Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Why I learned to use my own power tools VII

I apologize for neglecting this tale for the past week or so, but both Hedda and I were called upon to do work on our homes -- we worked a bit together.

Asphyxiation again

Hedda was getting new pipes for all her inbound and outbound plumbing needs. The family had been given a weekend to recover from the extermination fumes, and the plumber was now to work while Hedda was at her offfice job, and while her son was away at classes. The dog was out in a friend's yard, playing with other pups of a like mind. Stretch, the aging Siamese cat, was left alone to watch over the workers.

It was cold outside, so the windows remained closed. When Hedda came home from work in the late afternoon, the house reeked of exhaust fumes. She went downstairs to the basement and discovered that the plumbing assistant, who had been left to do the dirty work, had left the house without turning off the air pump for his power tools. It had been spewing carbon monoxide for roughly six hours unrestrained, while the subcontractor ate his lunch, chatted with his buddies, and likely took a long afternoon nap.

Stretch, already weak from the previous week's toxins, was limp. Hedda rushed him to the veterinarian's office. It was several hours before they could be certain that Stretch would survive. That cost Hedda the last of her "spare cash". She was not going to be able to have the repairs done on her car, that month. The tendency of her engine to overheat on trips over 20 minutes she would just have to work around.

She called the contractor to file a complaint. The head contractor gave her a verbal shrug, as though it was not his responsibility when his employees were reckless and endangered the lives of the residents of the house. In addition, he told Hedda that her "frequent presence on scene" while the men were working was causing a distraction, and he requested that she stay away from her own house as long as they were doing their job.

Hedda, shocked, called the WIRC office, where she was told that the contractor had the right to make this demand, and that he had already complained to them about her "constantly pestering them". The WIRC representative suggested Hedda find somewhere else to spend her days, when she wasn't at her day job.

She began spending her time off with me and my mother, drinking herbal tea and trying to find ways to ease her frustration before going home to her family and the chaos that was her unfinished house. She sighed, counting the days until the contractors would be gone and her house would be finished (the contractors concluded their work in April of 2005. The house is still unfinished today).

Previous posts in this series: Part I,Part II,Part III,Part IV,Part V, Part VI

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another way to fill your house with lethal levels of carbon monoxide gas is to run a gas-powered cement saw in the basement somewhere between 10-20 minutes or longer with only a trap door in the outside stairwell for ventillation, and let the fumes rise through cracks and holes in the floor into the living space above, in which all the windows and doors are closed due to cold weather. An added bonus is that, long after the odorless carbon monoxide fumes are aired out of the house, you get to be greeted by those lovely headache-inducing gas fumes every time you enter your home, which gets pretty old after a week or two of them.