Wednesday, March 31, 2010
If you're wondering why this video is here, it's because I promised to tell you the story of how my husband and I, Robert, met and fell in love in my last blog. You need to read that blog to understand the blogs to come or they won't connect. This song, sung by Mahna Mahna and the Snowths, is part of that story. Why? Because it's our song. Some couples have silly love songs...we have Manha Mahna.
When I met Robert, I was a single mother of three children and had recently purchased my first home. I was so proud of my little place but it was difficult making ends meet. At that time, a friend of mine owned a home security company and was losing one of his best technicians. I knew the pay was good and asked him if I could give it a shot. He agreed. He said it'd be sweet to have a chick tech. You have to know the guy. Picture a cross between Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Sean Penn from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but with glasses and a good business sense. The tech who was leaving was Robert. He was moving back to Alabama to settle down with a woman he'd been chasing for awhile. She said she was ready to commit. She wasn't. He was back three months later.
During the two weeks he trained me, we got to know each other. He taught me a lot about how to drill holes with a six and twelve foot bit and how to crawl into the tiniest of attics and pull wire. He talked about his girlfriend and his hometown and I told him all about my kids and my life. When you're together at least 10 hours a day, a friendship starts to develop. I knew then that he was one of the sweetest guys I had ever met. On his last day in town, we had lunch at a local restaurant, I wished him well and he said he'd miss working with me. I hated to see him leave.
The next three months, I worked mostly alone. The job was physically demanding, challenging and extremely frustrating some days. Most techs could finish a basic job in three hours, it usually took me twice the time. But still, I was proud of myself that I could install and program a security system from start to finish. I got a charge out of knocking on customer's doors and seeing the confused look on their faces. Most would ask where my help was. I'd pull out my flex bits and drill and my best Clint Eastwood squint and say, "It's just me, ma'm." I don't blame them. I'd be a little nervous too if I saw a 5'6" woman coming into my house with a drill.
One day I walked into the office and there he sat. My old friend, Robert. He looked tired and sad and gave me a weak smile.
"Didn't work out," he said, "mind if I work with you?"
I was sad for him but glad to see him back. He was the best tech I had ever seen and I had missed his friendship. Over the next few weeks, we grew closer as friends. We talked about any and everything. He would come over to my house and fix things and hang out, eat dinner with me and the kids, help with homework, watch movies. One of the things we discovered we had in common was our fondness for The Muppet Show, especially the Mahna Mahna song. He'd call me and sing "Mahna Mahna..." and I'd reply, "Do do, do do do..."
Like I said, the job was physically demanding and mentally challenging. Many days, I wanted to quit. Valentine's Day 2005 was one of those days. I had an installation in a big house, lots of doors and extras. I explained to the nice couple where I'd put the equipment and jumped right into the job. Once I got all the holes drilled, it was just a matter of attaching wire to the glow rods and pushing them up into the attic. Then the fun part started. I'd climb into the attic with a flashlight and a pull-rod and start the hunt. The rods that the wires attach to glow when the light hits them, making it somewhat easier to find the wires. The wires for sirens and motion detectors, components that were to be placed in the middle of the house, were easy to find. But doors and windows, that was another story. They were at the edges of the house, drilled through the top plate, where the edge of the roof meets the outside walls of the house. Sometimes I could barely see the tip of the glow rod, if I were lucky. Then I would have to crawl as far as I could toward the wire, lay out flat on a rafter, and stretch out my pull-rod and hook the wire. Usually, insulation was in my face and my head was squeezed between two rafters. This time was no exception.
On top of the usual difficulty, this attic was full of boxes. Another obstacle. Boxes full of Christmas decorations, family mementos and who knows what else. I had been up there for awhile and had most of my wire pulled. But there was one wire, one door, that I saved for last. I knew it was going to be difficult. I had to move boxes, lay on some, crawl for awhile before I finally saw the tiniest tip of the glow rod above the laundry room door. Eureka. I finally hooked it, started pulling with a big grin on my face and then, it stopped...it was hung. I laid there for a minute, sweating. Did I mention that it was May in Louisiana and hot as hell in that attic? It was. I couldn't let go and I couldn't go back. It had taken me too long to get there! No! I was desperate. I pulled out my cell phone and called the customer.
"Hello?" said the sweet customer lady.
"Mrs. Smith? This is Melinda...I'm in the attic and I have a problem. Could you help me out?"
"Well, I guess so, if I can. What can I do?"
"If you could go to the laundry room door for me and see if the bag of wire is tangled up, I would really appreciate it."
"Of course, dear. Just give me a minute."
Plod, plod, walk, walk, doors opening and then finally,
"Oh dear. It's quite tangled up down here."
"Mrs. Smith...do you think you could untangle it? I've got the wire and really need to pull it through."
Pause, pause, pause, grunt, grunt.
"Melinda? I'm afraid that I can't untangle it on this end. I think you're going to have to let go and come down here and do it again."
Sob, sob, sob.
"No...I can't let go, Mrs. Smith. You don't understand."
"I understand dear, but there's no way around it. You have to let it go. I'm going to pull it back out now."
"NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!" I screamed, as the pull-rod slipped from my sweaty hands.
I laid there for a minute or two and silently cried. Finally, I crawled back out to the center of the attic, went back down, and packed up my truck. I quit, I thought. I can't do this. Who am I kidding? An image of my kids and my mortgage deed flashed in my mind. And then I thought about this sweet couple who were depending on me to make their home secure. I unpacked my truck and re-ran the wire. I could not for the life of me hook that wire again. I tried for half an hour and finally, exhausted and somewhat hysterical, I crawled back to the center of the attic again and called Robert. He answered immediately and told me he was on his way out of town for a job but would stop by and help.
I sat there in that hot attic. I refused to come down again. I sat, and cried, and sweated and talked to myself, twisting a piece of broken wire around my finger. Fifteen minutes later, I heard someone coming up the attic stairs and saw a head pop up and heard,
I couldn't reply. Robert stood there for a minute, looking around while his eyes adjusted to the dark.
"Do, do...oh, hell I'm over here," I answered between sobs.
He made his way over to me, reached out and brushed a tear from my cheek, and said, "Are you crying?"
"Maaayyyybeee," I wailed.
"There's no crying in the attic. Didn't anyone tell you that? What's wrong? We can fix it."
A mere fifteen minutes later, all the wires were pulled and we were hooking up the equipment inside the nice, cool, air conditioned house. Later that day, the sweet lady who owned the house, sent us home with a plate of heart-shaped Valentine's Day cookies and told us what a great job we did. Robert smiled and winked at me as we loaded up my truck. He went off to do his job and that evening, he showed up at my house with a bottle of wine and two bright red boxes of chocolates for my little girls.
It was on that day, that my heart began to beat a little faster whenever Robert was around.
This is taking a little longer to tell than I thought so next time, I'll finish the story of how we fell in love. Stay tuned, it involves Mother's Day, a Roomba and a missed opportunity.