Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Fence

Rachel stood back to examine the picket fence her brother-in-law was building for her. She could see that it was crooked yet, when she tried to tell him so, he just said that getting it straight would be the last thing he did before he painted it. She had shaken her head and said that’s not the way it works, only to be promptly told that she was not the one who did this for a living and should not expect to know anything about it. Rachel had remained silent and went inside. From that point on she was verbally slapped every time she saw her brother-in-law or her sister. If she asked them how their day was, they would reply fine, but they were dealing with some clients who thought they knew everything about building and kept telling them how to do things when they clearly had no idea what they were talking about; or how much they resented the “know it all types”.  
  Rachel bore it all in silence. She couldn’t think of what to say or do. The fence was finally done being built, all that was left to do was paint it and the entire structure was very lopsided. If she brought up how crooked it was, she risked getting another verbal lashing, but if she said nothing, would it ever be fixed? If she hired someone else, her sister and brother-in-law would both be offended and she would never hear the end of it. Every family gathering will be brought around to her failure to help out her family during this tough time in the economy. None of these scenarios were acceptable, so she decided the best thing she could do was pick the most livable of all the evils; and she knew she could not live with that lousy fence.
  Picking up the phone she called a professional fence builder and had him out there that afternoon and he gave her an estimate to fix it. The price wasn’t too bad, so she told him to get to work on it as soon as he could. Once that was scheduled in she felt a tingle of apprehension. How should she tell her brother-in-law? She decided that sooner rather than later was better. Ever since he started building, he had been very unprofessional about his working hours. He just showed up every once in a while, put a few posts in, or nailed a couple of boards then left. Making it abundantly clear to Rachel that her fence was far down on his priority list. She never knew when he’d show up, he could literally drive up any minute now, and then she’d have to take his bawling on how inconsiderate she was not to call him to say she hired someone else, and he had driven with all the stuff up here just for her.
  Snatching up the phone she quickly dialed his cell phone. She, of course got his message machine (did that man ever pick up the phone?) Leaving a message she hung up and dialed her sister, Rachel thought she might be over doing it a little, but she would just feel better once she talked to one of them, she got the feeling that her sister and brother-in-law didn’t listen to her messages on purpose.
  Thankfully Helen picked up.
  “Hi Helen, this is Rachel.”
  “Oh, I was expecting someone else.” Helen replied, not bothering to hide her impatience.
 “Then I’ll make it brief, I’m having some people from the office come over for lunch next week – “
  “Oh, I couldn’t possibly come over; my husband and I are booked every day for the next two weeks.”
  “Well, that’s not really why I called.” Rachel said carefully, she felt as if she were walking of hot coals. “I know how busy you are, and I just wanted to let you know that I’ve hired someone else to finish up my fence, because I really would like it to be finished in time for this lunch – “
  “If you had let us know sooner, we could have rescheduled.” Helen said in false sweetness.
  “It was kind of a last minute thing,” Rachel said carefully.
  “Well, I think we could come over and finish it if it’s really that important.” Helen replied, backpedaling.
  “Oh, no you don’t have to do that – “
  “What are sisters for?”
  “You see I’ve already hired someone else, and they have me scheduled in,” Rachel explained.
  There was a pause.
  “Tell your hubby to call me back so I can send you guys a check, ‘kay?” Rachel asked, trying to sound cheerful.
  “Talk to you later,” Helen said coolly.
  “Okay, see you, bye.”
  Helen hung up.
  Rachel hung up with a grimace, she had the feeling she had just released the dragon.
  However, to her surprise, when she talked to her brother-in-law he sounded downright relieved to be let out of the making of the fence. He said the work had been beneath him anyways, and he wished Rachel the best of luck with the next crew, though they couldn’t possibly measure up to himself ,they were going to have to do. She said she hoped they would too and wished him a good day.
  After she hung up, Rachel wondered how two people with C grade averages could have such big egos.             

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