Green shoots

Man, oh man.  I feel like I was rode hard and put up wet.  Over the past couple of years I’ve been slowly but surely remodeling the old Casa de Ottomatic as time and money allowed.  I’m finally nearing the finish line.  There’s some touch up work here and there but just about ready to have the kitchen floor tiled and hardwoods refinished and it will, at last, be the way I want it.  Well, except for the front bathroom.

My house was built in 1954.  I don’t know if it’s just Texas (and Oklahoma, my Aunt Kathy had the same thing in her house…) but the style at the time was pink tiles with maroon tile borders.  Mine includes an eight foot pink vanity top – complete with molded-in clam shell shaped sink – and pink bathtub.  Ooh, and pink hexagonal floor tile.  The only thing missing is Peggy Bundy.  I really don’t like it, but same as Al I figured I’m stuck with it until I can afford something better in the future.

Or maybe not.  A soft spot showed up in the floor and if you know anything about older pier-and-beam style homes it’s that a soft spot in a bathroom floor ain’t good.  There’s no water leaking now, but there was at some point.  Leaking water equals soft wood.  I could have shored it up and lived with it for a couple of years, but instead:

If I never see another pink tile it will be too soon.  There must have been two tons of tile and plaster in that damn bathroom.  I used to do this kind of work all day when I was a pup, no worries, then back at it again the next morning.  Oy, I’m sore in spots today I never would have thought.  I’m walking like the impossible lovechild of Fred Sanford and Walter Brennan.  My hands need a massage.  So much schlepping.

People say “Blessing in disguise” a lot these days but I gotta admit that soft spot in the floor was a huge blessing in disguise.  Better to do it now before the floors got refinished than sometime a lot sooner than I might have figured down the line.  Is it weird to be excited about a new bathroom?  Because I’m pretty stoked.

Other than tile and plaster the one big mess was that old pink bathtub.  Ask any expert and he’ll tell you the easiest way to remove the old tub is to cover it with a tarp, grab a sledgehammer, and give it a mighty El Kabong until it’s in manageable chunks.  El Kabong I did.

El Kabong never quits.  El Kabong rights wrongs, punishes oppressors, gives to
the poor, robs from the rich, borrows from the middle class.  Just like Obama.

As an anecdote, me remodeling the bathroom could be taken as a sign the economy is improving.  I’m spending money on a fancy new tub and a toilet whose flush will suck your arm off.  That anecdote would be your classic broken windows fallacy since the money otherwise would have gone towards a new refrigerator or another assault rifle.  Although with me, the money’s getting spent either way so it’s a zero sum game.

Which is neither here nor there because I’m here today to talk about green jobs being created.  Scoff if you will, but recycling centers are considered green jobs.  There’s a metal recycling center up the way so I loaded up the remains of the shattered bathtub into my old Bronco and went to do my part for Mother Earth and pocket a little scratch.

Ladies and gentlemen, the green economy is booming.  At least the selling old metal for scrap portion of the green economy.  This salvage yard is an ant pile.  John Law has to hang around on weekends to keep the traffic moderately under control.  They just added three new cashier windows to keep up with the flow of customers.  They have you pull your rig onto a big scale (the Bronco weighs 4440 lbs), then unload, and weigh again.  It is a freaking circus.  Unbelievable.

For the 340 lbs of cast iron that made up that horrible pink bathtub I got a cool twenty seven dollars and twenty cents.  There are, apparently, folks who make a living at picking up scrap.  One of the cats up there knew all the cashiers by name.  I know when I put trash out front someone will pull up and pick through it within two or three hours.  I’ve heard some cities are arresting folks for taking scrap from curbside – the local government feels like that scrap and cash belongs to them.  I’ve never seen anyone loading scrap into a hybrid vehicle nor were there any hybrids in sight at the scrap yard.

When times are tough you do what you must to get by.  The mystical “green job” is often bandied about by politicians as evidence their economic, energy, and environmental policies are working.  They talk about green jobs and we’re supposed to think of robot mechanics at fancy solar panel plants or tower climbers deftly scaling windmills.  And naturally there are some highly skilled, well compensated American doing “green jobs”.  But for every one of them there are ten people toiling away as a cashier at a salvage yard or rooting through garbage for metal scrap.

There nothing wrong with that and what they’re doing does in an indirect way help the environment.  And it is indeed evidence of how well our economic, energy, and environmental policies are working.  People are so desperate to eke out a living here in America they’ve resorted to sifting through trash.  Funny how recycling and metal theft increases during recessions/depressions.  People start doing jobs Americans won’t do.  I did see plenty of Americans at the salvage yard.  Every one of them a green shoot in the new Obama economy.

They’ll fare better than most after the collapse.  And I’ll have a stylish, warm place to shit.  Take that, naysayers!

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