If we were having a beer, I would order the first round, and you would start in on me right away.
“What’s the do-it-yourself vacation boy doing these days?”
“I’ve been installing drain tile and a small drywell to take care of the last remaining downspout that wasn’t piped underground.”
“Exactly, just like my dad predicted. He used to say that if I didn’t do better in school, I’d end up digging ditches.”
“Ha, my father told me that I had to go to school ‘cause I was too stupid to dig ditches.”
I would explain that your father might have been on to something. Ditches, at least drainage ditches have to have some precise characteristics. The pipe from each inlet has to be sloped down to the drywell. The drywell has to be set so that its drain is below the frost line, and you have to make sure that the lines and the drywell can’t fill up with dirt.
“It’s not too bad.”
“So, how does this work?”
I’d take a napkin and ask the bartender for a pen. Bartenders are loath to give up their pens. Pens are like currency to wait staff and customers are always walking off with them. She was nice, but she threatened to order a case from W.B. Mason since we come here so often, she’s memorized my credit card number.
“First, I dug a hole for a large bucket that I use as a drywell. I dug that deep enough so that after I added some stone, the bottom of the bucket was 42” below the surface. Then I dug a trench to the downspout and another to a surface drain that I wanted to put in front of the window to carry away winter rain and snow melt when the ground is frozen.”
“What’s the black thing in the window?”
“That’s MiMi, she loves to sit in those windows.”
“OK, I follow, but what happens when the bucket fills up?”
“It doesn’t fill up, there’s a hole in the bottom.”
“There’s a hole in the bucket?”
I would finally realize that these questions were deliberate on your part. All leading up to the next words out of your mouth as you looked to the bartender.
“Can I have another glass of wine, and another beer for my dear friend Liza.”
Next I’d tell you that the hardest part of this job was getting the material. When I got to the Home Depot, they had the section where the drain tile and components are stacked, blocked off.
“This aisle closed for your protection?”
“Yeah. I hate when they do that.”
“What’d you do?”
“I went to Lowes.”
“You should have gone there first.”
“You would think.”
I would tell you that I don’t like Lowes. I like the store OK but the location is awful. Home Depot’s entrance is at a stop light. When you pull out, you can go anyway you like. Lowes is tucked in behind a strip mall. If you go out the way you enter you can’t turn left to get to the main road. That means you have to drive out through the mall, stopping at about five stop signs and you hit the main road three traffic lights west of the road I need. I’d draw another diagram ‘cause I can’t be trusted with a pen and paper.
“Yo, Leonardo, I’ve been to those stores, I don’t need a map. Anyway, since you drew one, you can clearly see why you should always go to Lowes first.”
“Sorry, I don’t get it.”
“You go to Lowes first. Then, when they don’t have what you need, you exit the way you went in, turn right and go to Home Depot. Then you can come out at the light and turn left.”
Sometimes, you simply have to bow to the absurd. We would have a good laugh at your bit of twisted logic and at the fact that the bartender was humming “There’s a hole in the bucket.” (By the way, that’s the Muppets version, it’s worth watching).