Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Screwing with Al

My son Alan is thirty, my daughter Audrey 28. They have always been close except for a period of about 4 years in their early teens when they detested each other. Alan has always been the pack leader, ran faster, jumped higher, somewhat bolder if not smarter. Audrey quieter, more thoughtful perhaps, softer spoken for sure. Alan was always the baby robin that could raise his head the highest and get the big worms.

When younger I taught the kids well, blamed the dog for my gas problem, took them two years to figure that one out, pull my finger, hey whats that on your shirt just before I snub their noses with my finger. Figured it was my job to not raise any rubes, my duty to sharpen their wits.

So, we all worked here together at Roy's Auto until Alan got restless sold everything didn't fit in his van and spent a few months exploring the world. Like the bad penny he did return. As he had sold his house he needed to find a new hangout, after a good deal of searching he found a old modified trailer house couple miles north of town. Real piece of junk but he was happy. It certainly seemed to fit his new lifestyle which could best be described as being a tight ass.

So old tightey he decides not to hook to rural water but patch his old well and jet pump up, he never even fires his furnace up to see if it works but installs a wood burning stove. Decides to heat completely with wood but refuses to buy a wood splitter instead opting to split all his wood by hand. Doesn't get a dryer, hangs his clothes up across the living room.

But hey he is happy, happy to just sit in front of his fire and read by the one energy efficient light bulb over his chair. He also is happy to tell me and Audrey all about it, all about how we waste too much, how we should be cutting back here and there. Gets a little hard to take, Audrey and I have real lives, we take baths every day, use a clothes dryer and don't like to split wood or stumble around in the dark. Heck we are even known to splurge and put insurance on our dwelling.

The tipping point was his bragging how much electricity he used in a month, what can yo do with nine dollars in electricity? I don't think the proverbial kid from India could get by on nine bucks a month, and if that is not bad enough he is bragging he is going go cut it back further yet, figures when the weather cools off his refrigerator will run less for Pete's sake. Very hard to take when you are supporting a real life and looking at triple digit power bills.

Audrey lives north of town also, in a real house, with lot's of light bulbs, a clothes dyer and rural water. Love that girl.

So old tight ass he leaves for a long weekend this fall and asks Audrey since she is driving right by his place if she could keep a eye on Rudy his dog while he is gone. No problem, what are sisters for she responds. The sweet part was the first time out she turned his light bulb on and left it on all weekend only turning it off just before he came back. I find this hilarious, we wait and sure enough, next month Alan is grousing about his power bill, not as cheap as it should have been. Actually went up a buck or so, can't figure it out. Somehow Audrey keeps a straight face. Every time I think about it I start to chuckle to myself.

It only gets better because Audrey and I tell everyone. They get together with their cousins for Christmas and Audrey let's them all in the secret, Alan tells his cousins about his new found passion for living cheap and they all have to struggle to keep a straight face.

Several weeks ago Alan got restless again and headed south, shut off his water, bled his lines, and headed out free as a bird. Speaking of birds he asks Audrey if she would again do the honors and watch his place and feed his wild birds. No problem, Audrey comes in after her first visit and informs me Alan doesn't have one light bulb but nine of them, and they are all on. We should be upset he is down soaking up the sun while we struggle through subzero temps but we are warmed at the thought of his 9 light bulbs glowing brightly.

We all know Alan has all his heat tapes off, the only thing he thinks is on is his fridge. We can hardly wait.

Last week he made it back. Today I came upstairs to the office, I am at my computer while Alan is rambling on to Audrey in her office , I pick up a couple phrases and then start to really listen, oh this is sweet, he is grousing about his power bill.

I don't dare look in the office and meet Audrey's eyes knowing she will crack up if I do, Alan's back is to me and I can not help but laugh. Al's story just keeps getting better, the bill was way higher then it should have been, he was having a bad day anyway yesterday, he had went to the power company to complain, he was rather sorry he had lost his cool, Billy Jo one of our customers was at the desk when he came in, after getting nowhere with Billy Jo she had given him appointment to see Peg at ten today. Oh boy I thought this is getting stupid fast, Peg is our customer also. I can imagine the conversations they are having today at the utility office. “ He always seemed like such a level headed boy” “ it was insane I tell you, a twelve dollar bill, who bitches about a twelve dollar bill”.

Wracked with laughter I step back into the shop, only thing seems to work is think about dead kitty's. I get it under control and step back in as Alan is coming out of Audrey's office. I ask him just how much money are we talking about and does he plan on leaving us with any customers or is he planning on losing them all. He seems to be a little ashamed to actually say the amount involved, certainly on one level he understand just how piddly it is, yet, he again clearly states it is the principle of the thing. I ask if he locked his place, he responds no, he had to leave it open for Audrey, I smile and suggest maybe homeless people are coming in at night and sleeping there. We leave it at that.

As I drive down the street I understand it has gone to far, we can't let him go to his appointment with Peg and make a fool of himself. Can we? I start to think about the next time he leaves for the weekend, I could put a couple half empty cans of pork and beans by his sofa, a stubby cigar and a beer can or two, maybe even a old Playboy.

When I got back to the shop I went to Audrey's office, to tell her we gotta give it up. Turns out Alan had found out about what we were doing from a friend while he was on his trip and his whole story about going on a rant was a effort to rattle me into thinking he was losing customers and force a confession.

He certainly was convincing.


  1. Roy, I have an answer for Alan's electrical consumption. Banned from discussion on iATN so I hope I can share this here with you.

    go to http//solargoose.blogspot.com

    Email me private for more info @ LEWIS73@aol.com

  2. Whoops! I meant www.solargoose.com

    I am the wholesale distributor.....

    Blog is Solar-innovations at blogspot.com