The gift of sight
by Donald K. Sanders
I think City Hall is out to get me. I know what you’re thinking, “Rrriiight!” No I’m not crazy, this is for reals. Picture if you will, a hydrant, a sailboat, and a trailer full of chairs — folding chairs. Just keep those pictures in your mind and I’ll get back to them later.
This isn’t the only time that the City has been after me. A couple of years ago, I wrote something in the local paper that had the words, “city” and “noise” in the same sentence. I didn’t mean anything was bad about the city, but someone way up high must have thought so because it wasn’t a week later that a big van and a bunch of workers showed up in front of my house. They started making a bunch of noise that woke me up at 11:30 a.m. For all of you guys from France, that means “pretty early in the morning.”
I remember thinking, “Why do they have to work by my house and why are they going down into the sewers?” Peeking out of my curtains, I could see that besides the white van, there was a crew of musclemen and a big, mean looking lady and she kept looking over at my house. The lady had a clipboard too. I remember thinking, “Do they even make clipboards anymore?”
Anyway, these guys were as busy as bees in a pod and I didn’t know it at the time but they were sticking a basketball in the sewer line of every house on the block — EXCEPT MINE. Next thing I know, they’re opening up the van and inside was a giant air pump. A giant air hose was placed strategically into the manhole so they could pump in a bunch of air. I remember thinking, “Why are they pumping in a bunch of air?”
What I found out was this: The force of air or, F/Air, against a barrier of basketballs, or “Poo Stop” results in only one thing. Poo will flow uphill into the only sewer line with no basketball, or as it is commonly known, “My house.” The sewage from every house on the block blew up my bathroom.
I went out and told the lady that I thought she may have blown up my bathroom. She looks at me kinda funny and said, “We’ll send a camera up the line and take a photo, that will tell us what’s up.” Having said that, she disappeared and I was standing there looking around with a poo-eating grin on my face.
Less than 30 seconds later, a letter dropped through my mail slot. The letter was short and sweet and it accompanied two photos of the outlet of my sewer line. The letter said, “Dear Mr. Sanders, as you can see, there is nothing in these photos that would explain the cause of the sewage backflow into your house. It shall remain a mystery.” It ended with a scribbled signature.
OK, that was the first time the city was out to get me. It wasn’t all that bad, because I just boarded up the old bathroom and built another one on the other side of the house. Now they’re out to get me again because I called and reported a boat, upside down, in the creek.
The next day. I was working in my little workshop, whittling on a piece of wood, when my wife yells at me that a police officer is at the door. Sure enough there stood Sgt. Ramirez of the local PD. I remember thinking, “Oh crap, there was a body inside the boat and they think I did it!” I was getting scared until he explained that he would like me to show him where I saw the boat.
Next thing I know, we’re hiking down this path through the woods and automatically I was back in Vietnam, and I was worried about my troops trying to frag me again. In the distance I could hear Sgt. Ramirez saying, “Mr. Sanders, Mr. Sanders” and I found myself in a patch of poison oak.
I started crying a little bit and was going to ask him to help me out of the poison oak, but he was sneezing, from allergies I guess. I might have been hearing things but every time he sneezed, in the place of a sneeze sound he would say, “uradummy!” Then he would sneeze again with the same sound, “uradummy.”
Next thing I know, I’m surrounded by cops and they’re all sneezing, “uradummy.” I shook my head a couple of times and then it dawned on me what was happening. I think maybe the sneezing thingy was all in my mind but what I really did see was something really rare because nobody, I mean nobody, ever gets to see a cop in a relaxed state of mind.
OK, I’m in the water with the cops and we’re trying to turn this darn boat over so we can get it out of the creek. Sgt. Ramirez is up on the bank barking orders, “Turn it over, turn it over!” knowing the damn thing weighs a thousand pounds. We’re all laughing and having a good time.
I felt so surprised because I never realized that cops could have a good time. I looked at them and thought, “Man, how cool is this, I get to have a good time with the cops — our cops.” It was like my birthday and someone had given me a nice gift — the gift of sight.
At that I went back to pushing that darn boat and I forgot all about the hydrant and the trailer full of chairs — folding chairs.