Columns

2009.08.19 Traveling heavy

on . Posted in By The Way

By DAVID GREEN

When son Ben was home recently for a brief visit, he measured his boat and trailer that have long been located in the back yard here, tucked away between the house and garage.

He decided it was finally time to part with those items. He might have wanted them again if he got back to Michigan to live in the future, but they weren’t doing him any good while he’s living in an apartment in Miami.

He got the details of the items and posted them on-line. It wasn’t long before he told me there was an interested buyer from somewhere around Grand Rapids.

It didn’t sound too likely to me that someone would drive two and a half hours to buy a leaky rowboat, but Ben pointed out the trailer made it a real steal: $100 each or $150 for both.

Sure enough, Kurt Grigsby called Tuesday night and he was coming the next day to make the purchase.

I was home at the appointed time Wednesday morning when a Jeep pulled up in front of the house. There was a decal on the passenger door, but I couldn’t read it from the porch.

I went out and said hello to the man behind Grigsby Home Repair or whatever the sign on his door said. I took him to the back yard and we pulled the boat and trailer out away from the garage.

“I see he’s done a little tarring on the bottom,” Kurt said.

Actually I think that was done before Ben bought it, although he did do some work to keep the water out. Kurt knew about the leaks—Ben gave an honest appraisal—and they didn’t seem to bother him at all. He needed a small rowboat and he liked this one.

He checked out the tires on the trailer and they weren’t bad considering they’ve sat untouched for a few years. He knew he’d have to add a little air, but he brought along an air compressor.

This is what was so impressive about Mr. Grigsby. He seemed to be prepared for anything.

He counted out the $150 and handed me the bills. I gave him a hastily written receipt for his purchase.

We pulled the trailer to the road and he placed the end over the ball of his hitch. Not a good fit.

“He lied to me,” he said about Ben.

I suggested that Ben was probably just mistaken. Kurt knew that. He wasn’t bothered by it. He flipped a quick-release lever and  quickly replaced with it the correct size.

He plugged in the wiring for the trailer lights and we checked them out. Ben had already warned him that they might not both function correctly. They were both dead. Kurt fooled around with them awhile but to no avail.

No problem. If he was stopped by a police officer, he would use the line that they worked when he bought the thing. Besides, it was a low profile boat and his Jeep lights were easily visible.

He brought out his compressor and I wanted one, too. I’m not the kind of guy who drools over the latest tools, but this was really nice. Not too heavy, but powerful and its battery held a long charge.

He had trouble getting air to go in—something with the needle in the trailer valve, probably—but once again, Kurt had what he needed in the back of the Jeep. Some people travel lightly; he travels heavily, prepared for anything.

I noticed the odd passenger window. Fraying duct tape was holding in a sheet of Plexiglass, but it was black tape to match the vehicle. I asked Kurt if he called Grigsby Repair for that job

He explained that someone who needs to really slam the door shut in her vehicle really slammed the door shut in his and the window shattered. He wasn’t about to pay 300 bucks for a new window in his old Jeep.

He headed off on his journey and I went inside to see if he really counted out $150. Of course he did. He would have had a spare 10 in the back anyway.

There’s such a gaping hole next to the garage now. Over the years we’ve occasionally asked Ben what he’s going to do with the thing, but now we sort of miss it.

Colleen thought it would be perfect for  when the big flood comes. I enjoyed using it to climb onto the little roof and then onto the garage roof without a ladder.

What I think bothered us the most was knowing another piece of one of our kids was gone. There’s no help from Grigsby on that one.

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