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The Director and "Ski Joring"

Wednesday, a day that will live in infamy. At least for me and maybe thirty or so county employees.

As many of you know I have been involved in a construction project for a nearby county. I don’t like using names so I will tell you this county has an interest in leaving the state and joining a nearby state. This should provide you with enough information to guess the name. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. There are plenty of reasons. Elaine is watching me type so I can’t talk about that right now.

This project, simply put is to add fifty 10’x10’ offices and a couple of conference rooms built on the side of an existing giant warehouse/garage. When I say giant, I mean giant. It has room for about 100 pickup trucks and huge snowplows. The building has ten overhead (roll-up garage) doors big enough for the snowplow to drive through.

On the opposite side of the warehouse/garage from where I/we are building the annex is a similar complex of offices occupied by county employees. Before starting our project, we were told not to disturb the county employees, not to use the restrooms, blah, blah, blah. County employees seem to like new offices, but they are not fans of the people that build them. We were told if construction was going to be noisy, smelly, or disruptive it must be done at night or on weekends. Obviously, county employees don’t like noise, smells, or disruption, which is what construction is. Not to mention construction has special language which is sometimes loud and heard by the unintended.

That aside the project is almost complete. I have kept the crews under control with limited interaction with county employees. Oh, there was that time the department director accused the masons of stealing county tools. Why is it the county guys with khaki pants and certificates on their walls seem to be the first to panic and complain?

Anyway, I need to get to the day of infamy. Unfortunately, I might need to provide a little more background. The warehouse/garage and new annex are connected electrically, along with fire sprinklers, domestic water systems, alarms, and all things mechanical.

Wednesday; it was almost time to go home. I was checking doors, making sure everything was secure for the evening. I noticed a large puddle of water beneath the door separating the warehouse/garage and the new annex. It wasn’t looking good for going home. The door is locked from the annex side, preventing access to the warehouse/garage.

By the time I could run outside of the annex and run (yes, I can still run) to the warehouse, I could hear alarms going off, fire alarms. I was certain the building was not on fire, but something bad was happening.

Earlier that day the fire sprinkler contractor was connecting the fire sprinkler system from the warehouse/garage to the new annex. He installed the new connection just low enough that when county personnel opened the giant rolling overhead door, the door hit the sprinkler system breaking a pipe.

Now I can’t say for sure, but when most people hear a fire alarm they would exit the building. Not county personnel, at least not about thirty of them, led by their director. While thirty or so of them stood in the growing puddle I ran to shut the water off. The assistant director was standing at the shut-off.

Ass Director (pun intended): Don’t touch that valve. I want a county employee to shut the water off. Me: You think I can’t shut the water off? Ass Director: I want one of my guys to do it.

It was time to call the sprinkler contractor. Before I could make the call, I was questioned by the director.

Director: What do you think happened here? I don’t think my guys did anything to cause this. Me: I think the door hit the sprinkler. Director: We saw one of your guys working there today. We didn’t have this problem yesterday. Me: Well, you have it today, now if you don’t mind, I need to see this gets fixed.

I might have had all I could stand of Ol’ Khaki Pants, but I wasn’t really interested in who we were going to blame. I don’t live in that world.

I didn’t get to leave the job for another two and a half hours. Breaking a pipe in a fire sprinkler is a first for me. This day will live in infamy.

I have time for one more story but before I tell it, Ivy just asked me, “Who is playing in the Super Bowl?” We don’t watch a lot of football around here. I've always found it was always more fun to play than watch. It does lt leave me wondering who is on the halftime show.

Before my day of infamy, I had decided to take Friday off. Elaine had heard about this thing called “ski joring”. It seems Elaine’s new favorite town in Wyoming puts on a “ski joring” weekend this time of year. I felt like could use a day off and enthusiastically said yes, before I knew what “ski joring” is.

Elaine: Would you like to go to Saratoga this weekend? Me: That sounds fun, what will we do? Elaine: We can watch “ski joring”. Me: What exactly is “ski joring”? Elaine: A couple of guys on horses race pulling skiers with a rope. Me: And how did you find out about this? Elaine: Martha told me about it. (our friend in Tennessee)

This conversation forced me to do my own research. (I do my own political research also, but we can’t talk about that.) First, I found out that the weekend forecast in Saratoga was windy, snowy, and (construction language) cold. Second, I found out I had no chance of being a participant. (I mentioned, I like playing more than watching. Yes, I am too old for “ski joring”, but Saratoga has a small hospital. I’ll be fine.) Third, I would be standing in the street freezing watching horses and skiers while Elaine would be inside talking to her favorite boutique owner. Who wouldn’t want to go for all that? Sounds like a great weekend.

Friday morning after packing every piece of cold-weather gear we own and checking the WYDOT road conditions; we headed for Saratoga.

In fairness, I have always had an infatuation for Saratoga myself. When I was a small child my dad work on the crew that constructed and paved the road into Saratoga. Yep, he was the guy on the bulldozer that held up traffic and caused your parents to yell, “Get the (construction language) out of the way.”

Long before OSHA, my dad would take my older brothers and me to work with him. We rode on bulldozers, front-end loaders, dump trucks, road graders, and such. Some would say that was very irresponsible, some would say that he wanted to be with us. I think he was teaching us to work. Oh, I’m sorry this has NOTHING to do with “ski joring”.

Elaine had checked road conditions. The interstate was closed due to blowing snow. State highways were closed. One single highway was open but snow-packed. I decided to go, using that snow-packed route.

The road wasn’t snow-packed, it was clear. For I’m guessing about two hours there was no snow anywhere. But then, just a few flakes. A few more flakes, and then. An absolute blizzard. Six inches of snow on the road WHERE IT HAD BEEN PLOWED. Eighteen inches of snow on the side of the road. Visibility is zero.

Elaine stops talking when she gets nervous in the car. She has gone silent.

Me: I’m turning around. Elaine: If you want to.

I searched unsuccessfully for a spot to turn around. Finally, I just stopped on the highway and started a U-turn. I looked out the back window to see an SUV was going to hit us from behind. Another SUV was going to hit the first SUV. I hit the gas and everyone missed everyone.

We made it home, with plenty of time to enjoy a three day weekend. There is no place like home unless you can get to Saratoga. Elaine is making reservations for next weekend's Valentine’s dinner at the Wolf Hotel. Stay tuned!

Oh yeah, buy yarn at

Our crazy lives!



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