In Our Own Backyard...The gift that kept on givingWhy in the world didn’t we just buy a toaster?
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Why in the world didn’t we just buy a toaster?
It all started when our daughter Kara and her family moved into a new house a couple of months ago. I’d been wanting to get them a housewarming present, and since we were going to the Twin Cities to visit them last weekend, I figured that would be the perfect opportunity.
I had some spare time on Thursday, so I headed for town to shop around and find something for them. I considered something useful for the kitchen, something decorative for the living room, or something frilly for the bedroom, but I was stumped trying to remember just what they do and don’t already have.
It was completely by chance that I wandered into the sporting goods department of a local store and spotted a big sale on basketball equipment. I remembered how the grandkids love shooting hoops in our driveway for hours on end when they visit our house, and how the entire family likes nothing better than a face-paced game of “Horse.” A basketball backboard might be just the thing, and since it was on sale, that was even better!
Not certain if it would seem tacky to give someone a basketball backboard as a housewarming gift, I called my husband on the cell phone and ran the idea past him.
“I think that sounds great!” he exclaimed. “In fact, I’ll bring our ladder and some tools and I’ll even put it up for them!”
I made my purchase and lugged it home.
“Did it come with a mounting bracket?” asked Ken after I showed it to him that night.
“Uhhh, I would certainly think it would….” I said.
But alas, when he opened the box we discovered that the mounting bracket had to be purchased separately. I offered to call the store to see if they carried such a thing. After several minutes of waiting for the clerk to check on it, she came back and proudly announced that they did, indeed, have a mounting bracket – for an additional $65!
At that point, it was too late and we were in too deep to go back, so Ken made a trek to the store to purchase the mounting bracket.
The next morning we packed up the car with the backboard, the mounting bracket and Ken’s drill and tool kit. He strapped the ladder to the top of his new SUV, and we headed out for the Twin Cities.
It was the first road trip I’d taken in his new vehicle, and he had been bragging about what a quiet ride it had. But as soon as we got out on the open road, there was a tremendous drone that wouldn’t go away. Reluctant to say anything about it, I kept my mouth shut, but it was only a matter of a minute or two before he cried, “What’s making that noise?”
It didn’t take us long to figure out that culprit was the ladder tied atop the roof rack of the car. It seems our forward progress caused the wind to whistle across the metal ladder, a little like blowing across the top of a bottle.
I suggested we turn on the radio but when we did, the noise of the music and the ladder together were mind-blowing.
“I think if I can just reposition the ladder slightly so it isn’t heading directly into the wind, it might not be so bad,” said Ken.
And rather than pulling over to stop, he decided to open the sun roof of the car and just wiggle the ladder a little.
Bear in mind, this was a brand new car that we hadn’t even driven a full week, and neither of us was entirely certain where the button was that retracts the sun roof. As Ken groped around, he hit a button that immediately triggered a recording that told us we’d activated our emergency help signal, adding that if we’d done so in error to please push the button again to deactivate it. Ken hit the button once again. But just as he finally discovered the way to open the sun roof and was jiggling the ladder atop the car, a live voice came from some hidden speaker.
“Hello, this is Alec,” the male voice crooned reassuringly. “I’m from the emergency help network, and your signal tells me that you may be having a problem. Is everything OK?”
Looking at each other guiltily, we assured him it was a mistake and all was well.
In any case, we did manage to rearrange the ladder to minimize the drone, we made it safely to the Twin Cities and our daughter’s house, and everyone was extremely excited about the gift of the basketball backboard. Ken wrested the ladder from the roof of the car, dug out his drill and tools, and prepared to mount the backboard on the garage.
It was then we discovered we’d left the directions at home.