All the stars were aligned for the first extended vacation of our lives. Get out of Portland during the hottest summer ever? Head to the cooling fog of the San Francisco Bay Area? Sign me up. Tom quitting his Mini of Portland Shuttle driving? He tried, but they wouldn’t let him quit and gave him a leave instead. Sure, part of it was helping out with the 2 1/2 year old twins. How hard could that be? There were two of us and two of them. We had a house sitting gig for the entire 6 weeks, and didn’t have to stay with our daughter and son in law where one of three things would have happened:
- A murder
- A suicide
- No one talking to anyone after a week
But, could all be undone by a little blue thingy and Direct TV?
Direct TV had been turned off. The owner of the house (who we didn’t know), was nice enough to turn it back on for us, but she was not subscribed to any of the sports channels. How could this be? The British Open was on, the SF Giants were playing and we couldn’t get them. View from the house.
I called Direct TV: “Hello, I am inquiring about getting ESPN and the Bay Area Sports channel.”
Direct TV: “May I have your phone #?” I gave it to them. “Who am I speaking to today?” “This is Amy Brown.” Name changed to protect the innocent. “What can I do for you today Amy?” “Well, as I have mentioned before, I am out of town and had my service suspended. My house sitters are apparently sports fanatics. Can I add ESPN and the Bay Area Sports Channel for a month?” “Why Amy, that is no problem, we would be happy to add that for you.” “Thank you! what is the new charge?” So we got the British Open and the Giants but not the Tour de France.
The first weekend after we arrived we had a delightful dinner with our daughter and son-in-law. Unfortunately, it was overshadowed when Tom had to go to the ER for evaluation. When they said “incarcerated hernia” I, ever optimistic, told Tom that there was no chance he would be leaving the hospital that night as he would be having emergency surgery. Tom asked, “What’s the recovery time?” “4 to 6 weeks.” His reaction: “No problem. I can still go on my golf trip.”
When the ER doctor came in with the results of the ultrasound, instead of prepping Tom for surgery he began to push hard, then harder on the bulge above Tom’s belly button. Hard enough that Tom’s face was an 8 on the 10 point pain scale. Suddenly it popped back into place. With that the doctor handed him a note referring him to a surgeon while saying “It will happen again until you get it fixed.”
Three days later we saw the surgeon. He examined Tom and told him it’s a tiny hernia, probably won’t come out again and he actually has the same type that he incurred surfing. Also world class athletes, especially female sprinters are prone to this type of hernia. Tom heard that he had a world class athlete’s injury then asked “But I was eating dinner”. The surgeon said the muscle tear happened earlier. He advised him, should it recur, to just push it back into place and if you can’t, he turned to me and said “Put on a high heel and stand on it.” I heard: “don’t be a wuss, quit whining, go back to bocce ball.” But I liked the high heel part.
The second trip to the ER? I’m sure you are all dying to know. He was watching the twins while I met a friend for lunch. When I got back, his leg was swollen to elephant status. Apparently, leaving him alone with the twins sent him right to the ER. Luckily another minor injury.
A few days before our vacation was over, Tom was in the kitchen when I heard: “Oh no, she’s really not going to like this.” “She’s not going to like what?” I yelled. “The blue thing is missing.” “What blue thing?” I came into the kitchen where he had a drawer open and in it was a giant container of plastic wrap that was missing the blue thingy. The blue thingy happens to be the cutter. This was the biggest box of plastic wrap I have ever seen. It should last a lifetime. But it’s nearly useless without the blue cutter.
We went to dinner that night with old friends Laura and Jim. I told them about the blue cutter. Laura was very concerned: “Oh, that is just awful, how are you ever going to explain the missing cutter?” Jim chimed in: “You’ll never get another house sitting job, ever. That’s the kind of thing that will make her crazy the first time she opens the drawer to get some plastic wrap.” By now the other diners could hear the conversation coming from our table and were listening in. They all nodded in agreement with Jim. We were the center of attention and the tension in the room was palpable. They all knew our house sitting career was over before it started, they were all pulling for us.
By now you are all thinking this was an easy problem to solve. Just go to Costco and get another box of wrap. However we were now taking care of the twins full time as it was the break between the summer and fall sessions of preschool. I wasn’t comfortable leaving Tom alone with the twins given that the last time I left him alone, he ended up in the ER. So Costco was out of the question.
Meanwhile in the restaurant we were desperately trying to come up with a solution when Jim exclaimed: “I think I have an extra box of Costco plastic wrap in my garage. Somehow I forgot I had one and bought another one. You can have the blue thingy!” You could hear the silent cheering from the other diners. Our house sitting career might have life yet.
However, we still had the Direct TV subscription to deal with.
I had to cancel the Direct TV sports package and suspend the service once more. I would let Amy know we’d signed up for it and leave her a check. Then, because she was gone, I’d save her the hassle of suspending her service again. But Direct TV wanted to know when to reinstate service. I had no idea but they insisted I give a date. I wasn’t sure when Amy was coming back so I picked November 1.
I sent Amy a text. That night at a BBQ I got a long text back from her telling me not to suspend service as you’re only allowed to do it a couple times a year before you’re penalized. She has already told them to keep the service going as she’s coming back Sept. 23. Uh oh!
I spent a sleepless night worrying about Direct TV. The next day I called Direct TV again. Direct TV: “To whom am I speaking?” “This is Amy Brown. Did I suspend my service yesterday? I meant only to cancel the sports package.” Direct TV: “Yes, the service is suspended and the sports package is also canceled.” “Oh, I am so sorry, can you turn my service back on, I don’t know what I was thinking.” Direct TV: “Ok, you want the TV turned back on but the sports still cancelled.” “Yes, thank you so much!” Now I was really proud of myself and all seemed well.
Until I got this text from Amy. “Hi Stevie, I talked to Direct TV and found out that you can suspend service more than twice a year without being penalized. So I have suspended my service until I get home on the 23rd. You don’t have to do anything.” I looked at the text, walked to the TV, turned it on. Yes it’s on. I had called after she did. I am done talking to Direct TV. They must think Amy Brown is a nut job.
Do you think she will forgive us or is our short-lived house sitting career over? Tell me what you think!