Big Billy – Survey Says …

Probably my greatest skill is bein’ able to get out of doin’ things I don’t want to do. Most times, I can come up with an excuse not to do somethin’, right on the spot, without even thinkin’ about it.

We’ll be at Horton’s and Timmy or Tommy or somebody will start to say they need help Big BIllyhaulin’ the transmission out of their truck or somethin’ and before there’s even a question mark floatin’ around in the air, I’ll come out with an excuse so beautiful and believable sometimes I surprise even myself.

Can’t – I’ll say – my gout is actin’ up. (Even though I never had gout.)

And it’s not just with my friends, either. You know how sometimes when you’re goin’ into a store, there’ll be a couple of kids there collectin’ change and handin’ out tags? If there’s two of them and the kid on the left asks me on the way in, I always say – I’ll getchya on the way out, buddy. Then on the way out, the kid on the right will ask me and I’ll say, yer buddy asked me on the way in. Which ain’t a lie, but it confuses the kids enough that I can get away.

Anyway, needless to say, the only one this kinda thing never works with is Minnie. And part of the reason she gets to me is she springs a question on me right when I’m least expectin’ it.

Like the other day, I shoulda known somethin’ was up because she asked me who won the hockey game the night before.

The Leafs came out pretty strong in the first, I told her, and just as I was about to tell her about the goaltending, she interrupts me and says – Oh, can you lay that new tile by the back door today?

See what she did there? She asks me about hockey and lets me start to answer, and while my brain is thinkin’ about the Leafs’ power play, she pounces on me and asks me to get to work. She’s so sneaky, ya almost have to admire it.

Obviously, when she tripped me up like that, I was done for. I had no excuse, and I had to agree to lay the damn tile.

Now, she says, this is peel and stick tile from the dollar store, and I could only get a few extra, so make sure you don’t mess any of them up.

I rolled my eyes and sighed a yes-dear sigh.

I’m gonna go get groceries for supper. Don’t forget we got Cyril and Joan and Brad and Betty comin’ over tonight, so make sure you’re all finished by the time I get back. And out the door she went.

I did a count and saw there was only seven tiles I had to replace, and she bought 12 of them at the store, so I figured I had lots. The ones that had to be replaced were right by the door – I guess because we all come in with our wet boots and that, the glue just let go after a while, and they started to peel up and that.

I figured the best thing to do first was rip up all the ones that had to be replaced and scrape all the glue and that from the floor under it to make sure it was clean and ready for the new ones to go down.

I figured the best thing to do that with would be my trusty old crow bar. Naturally, went I went out to the baby barn to find it, it was nowhere to be found, and after about 20 minutes of tryin’ to figure out where it was, I remembered the damn thing was down in the basement.

Anyway, I finally found it, ripped up all the old tiles (and about five good ones, just because I got right into ‘er once they started comin’ up). There was little bits of broken tile all over the kitchen floor and a big bare space like a crater in front of the door where all the tile was ripped up.

I got the first tile out of the box, carefully peeled the paper from the back, and held the edges with just my fingertips, tryin’ to line it up straight before I laid it on the floor.

Steady as she goes, I whispered to myself, takin’ my time right slow like.

That’s when the phone rang all of a sudden and made me jump out of my skin. I guess it’s cause I wasn’t expectin’ it, but when I stood up to answer it, some fella with a foreign accent asked me if I’d be willing to answer a few questions.

I was caught off guard again and said yes before I could tell him to go fly a kite and hang up. I just leaned against the stove, helpless, with the phone in my ear.

So then he starts in with this “consumer information survey” – askin’ me all kinds of questions about everything. “Sir, for your household bath soap, do you purchase Irish Spring, Ivory, Dove, Lever or another brand?”

What in the…?

“Sir, for your household toothpaste, do you purchase Colgate, Crest, Aqua-Fresh, or another brand?”

Each time I tried to tell him – Listen buddy, Minnie takes care of all that stuff. But because he didn’t speak English too good, he thought I was sayin’ “Minnie” was the brand of soap, or the brand of toothpaste.

After about fifteen questions, Minnie’s back and she comes in the back door and looks at the giant mess I made and the job I didn’t finish, with a bit snit in her face.

Finally, I just said, I gotta go, and hung up on him. I thought Minnie was gonna ask who I was talkin’ to, but instead she said – Why do you have a tile stuck to the top of the stove?

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