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The Land of the Free (and Chunky Monkey, Too)

March 23, 2001
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As I sat after dinner tonight, polishing off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s “Chunky Monkey,” I couldn’t help but ponder how good we got it in this country. I mean almost anybody can earn a livin’ if they want to. If a man wants to work, he can find a job.

Now it may not be “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” but he can be comfortable. Now I know we always want more, but if we really think about it, we’re doin’ pretty darn good.

As I sit and write this, my truck is being inspected. The dealer is open till 2 a.m. I won’t have to be without my service truck for a day. This is a good thing. I wonder if they have this in Russia or China.

I think about my truck. I paid 40 G’s for the sucker and I loaded about another 15 G’s in tools and inventory on it. Can you do this in any land? Maybe you can, I don’t know. I’ve never been nowhere else. But why would I need to go? Everything I need is right here.



What A Job!

I think about my house. A little single in a suburb close to Philly. I got a big back yard and a shed. Though parts of it look like a plumbing and heating Sanford and Son’s, it’s my little piece of the world. Not so bad for a city rowhouse kid that yewsta put cardboard in his sneakers to make another cuppulla weeks.

The house I was in today was built in 1760 or so. The folks that live there are a bit unpolished. As a mattera’ fact, they make the Addams family look like the Cleavers (ya know, Ward, June, Wally, and the Beaver). They were gettin’ shocks in the shower, so they said they needed an electrician and a plumber.

Down in the basement, where the multi-layered cobwebs could support a small human’s weight, I found a bare hot wire (knob and tube) a hair’s width away from the condensating, wet, cold water pipe to the electric water heater. I also found the wiring to the water heater to just be twisted together and exposed with no wire nuts, no ground, and the covers off the elements.

The 6-ft, 2-in., 265-lb son-in-law, named Luke (who has done 10 years in prison for nearly killing the patrons of a bar that he was cutting up with a chain saw to avenge his partner’s murder), proudly announced that he had installed the water heater himself.

I said, “Good lookin’ job,” winked at my helper, and then followed as Luke led us to the well pump that he said wasn’t workin’ right either.

I said, “Maybe it’s that dead cat that’s layin’ there next to the exposed pressure switch power terminals.”

He said, “Holy shiz, we been lookin’ for that bugger for three weeks! Hey, don’t say nuttin’ to my ol’ lady and her mom. They’ll start cryin’ and screamin’”

I thought, “Gee, how sorry I am to miss that.”



It’s An Adventure

As me and my helper were walking to the truck, Luke sez, “Hey, look at diss.” He proceeds to uncover an opening in the front lawn with steps leading down into the darkness. He heads right down while hollering for me to bring a flashlight.

Me and my helper follow like lambs to the slaughter. Down below we enter an old stone room with an arched ceiling. It was the old spring house. There is an opening to the well, which is filled with water and still has the draw bucket crank and shaft.

I said, “Wow, look at this.”

Then Luke sez, “That ain’t nuttin’. Look over here where the old opening was that leads to the tunnels.”

“What tunnels?” I asked.

“The tunnels where they hid the slaves. Ya know, the underground railroad,” Luke tells us.

Well guys, lemme tell ya, I am one grateful American. (And after workin’ in that house today I was one stinkin’ plumber/electrician.) I thought about all the people that have come and gone and endured so much. And gave so much. And fought against the evils in the world. I wondered how many of today’s modern Americans would be able to endure and give and fight like that.

I wondered if the dead men had something that many modern Americans no longer have. Maybe life itself was considered more sacred back then. Maybe people had more faith in God. And maybe all our modern materialism and distractions have dulled our senses to the value of all individuals. Rich or poor. Strong or weak. Young or old. Black or white. Yellow or red. Healthy or sick. Born or unborn.

Well, looks like it was another one of my long-winded stories. If ya made it this far, ya might be as crazy as me. At least as emotional. I think I’ll go relax with the wife now and have a bowl of Life cereal. Heh, I wonder if there’s any meaning in that.

What a great business this is. It’s an adventure in time. What a great life this can be. It’s an adventure in faith.

Frank Hierholzer — otherwise known as “Frank from Philly” — is the owner of J.F. Hierholzer Mechanical and Electric, Hatboro, PA. His words of wit are often found on Dan Holohan’s website, www.heatinghelp.com. He periodically provides his offbeat humor to The News. He can be reached at jfrank@nni.com (e-mail).

Publication date: 03/26/2001

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