Our Pool Dude To the Rescue, a guy named Stan from the venerable (and pricey) Swimming Pool Service & Repair, arrived a few days ago and ministered to the backyard swamp. Dumped in a sh!tload of stuff that turned the water milk-white, said “run it 24 hours nonstop” and assured me that the water would clear up.
And lo! The guy was right.
The following morning the drink was crystal clear. The pump is pounding away at 35 psi — wayyyy high for that unit, which normally runs at about 18-25 psi when everything is clean.
Which everything decidedly is not.
Stan resurfaced the next day to decombobulate the filter and the pump and clean everything out. And what a mess he found in there, after months of Ex-Pool Dude refusing to do the job.
Meanwhile, Ex-Pool Dude having stolen my Hayward Pool Cleaner, I needed to decide whether to order a new one from Amazon, or, for a hundred bucks more, to Shop Local and buy the same damn thing from the Sunnyslope Leslie’s, an outfit that mostly caters to the trade.
That store was agglomerated by the Leslie’s corporation fairly recently — for many years it had been a locally owned store, much beloved by people who work in the pool business. The former owners are still working there, but it remains to be seen how long they’ll stay.
My impression about those guys in Sunnyslope is that they probably are not crooks. I feel less wary of them than the crew at the Leslie’s in the Safeway shopping center a mile or two down the road, so if I was going to buy the thing retail and locally, that’s where I’d go.
My sense is that they’ll take it back if a problem arises…a trick that, as you know, is QUITE a trick when you buy from Amazon. That “insurance,” as it were, may be worth the extra hundred bucks.
Absolutely. So it was off to the Leslie’s-That-Is-Not-Altogether-a-Leslie’s to drop four hundred bucks on a new piece of equipment.
The whole idea of hiring someone to maintain that pool — now, to get him broken in, not later — has to do with the scheme to try to stay in my house till I croak over. Slamming around in the humid heat this morning was just this side of more than I can manage, here at the entryway to my dotage. If I”m going to stay in this house indefinitely, I’ll have to corner some hired help to do tasks I’ve been able to do in more energetic and less absent-minded years:
- house-cleaning help
- yard workers
- pool maintenance guy
- AC maintenance guy
- reliable, not-a-crook roofer
Actually, just now I have access to all those except the pool maintenance guy and probably the yard workers. Gerardo clearly has lost interest in doing private yards — he told me all those years ago, when he started, that his goal for the business was to do commercial landscaping. And given that guy’s smarts and energy, I figure he’s now about achieved that goal, and so would like to get rid of me and M’hijto.
Once all the present flaps settle down, the next order of business will be to figure out how — if it’s possible at all — to avoid being scammed and taken advantage by the armies of service and product providers you need to deal with. I’d been told that elderly people are easily flamboozled and targets for scams of all varieties. But this is the first time I’ve come fully face-to-face with that fact. Everybody and their little brother has tried to take advantage of me during the present fiasco. I’ve found a few guys who were honest and straightforward — most of them workmen who live here in the neighborhood (i.e., they know I know where they live…).
Pool Dude is the most egregious case in point. He stole a $400 pool cleaner — probably to sell or give it to one of his other customers — and when I demanded that he give it back, he foisted a worn-out piece of junk on me. Did he seriously believe I couldn’t tell the difference????
Clearly, this is not something that’s going to get better. In fact, I’m wondering if it’s possible to hire some kind of agent or go-between to run interference with various suppliers and service providers.
Y’know…given the size and the up-and-coming senility of the Baby Boom generation, I imagine a person could make a decent living with exactly that kind of service. I wonder what such a service would be called? And how you could insure it or how government entities could regulate it…hmmmm….
Meanwhile, my friend J, of the J&L couple who moved to the Beatitudes old-folkerie, needed a ride to the doctor’s office. She, at the age of about 90, came down with covid-19!
Amazingly, she threw it off. She must be strong as a horse! And, so far, her husband has not caught it. Presumably, the vaccine is hold the disease at bay.
These warehouses for old folks have real problems keeping the disease under control The Beatitudes has done so, to a degree, by confining ALL the inmates to their apartments. No one is allowed to leave the campus, and for awhile no one was allowed to leave their tiny apartments! Food was hand-delivered to people’s rooms by the employees: room service, at it were. So on the one hand it wasn’t surprising that J caught the disease; on the other, it’s astonishing that L has avvoided it so far.
Also surprising, to my mind, is that they go to a doctor in Sunnyslope — probably because their former abode was right down the street from John C. Lincoln, one of the three major hospitals in the city of Phoenix. What makes this surprising is that the practice caters to Latinos — Sunnyslope is largely Mexican. And J&L do subscribe to 19th-century ideas about race, gender, and ethnicity. That notwithstanding, she made a brilliant choice in electing to go to this doctor.
Amazingly, the man proposed to CALL HER DAUGHTER IN CALIFORNIA (!!!!!!!) and discuss Joan’s health with her!
Joan wanted me to sit in on their discussion to take notes – and her daughter was complicit with this scheme – but as you can imagine, the Doc was not so happy about it. He, being brighter than the average snail, saw that speaking to Daughter himself would get whatever he needed to share across without any static, and allow her to ask whatever questions she had directly to him.
Gawdlmighty, I’d rather be dead than trapped in that prison for old folks. For the price of their pretty North Central patio home – two large bedrooms, a spacious kitchen – bigger than mine! – a handy laundry area, a big two-car garage, a big dining room and living room with a free-standing fireplace, and a nice little backyard with a patio and a nice barbecue and pretty landscaping for their cat to jump around in – they get three rooms, one of which is the size of my hall closet. No garage: but their choice of any slot under a tinfoil roof that they manage to grab (and good luck with that). No yard. No barbecue. No real washer/dryer – just a couple of teeny stacked mechanical boxes jammed in a closet. A kitchen that’s not as big as the one in the studio apartment I rented my first year out of college. A phone system that doesn’t work.
No kidding: it took us THREE TRIES to get the damn phone to dial out so we could confirm the time of this afternoon’s appointment!
And – no kidding – she told me it took ALL OF THE PROCEEDS from the sale of their house to buy them into that awful prison for old folks.
If you’re going to blow all your net worth to keep yourself going through your dotage, wouldn’t it be better to borrow against equity in your spectacularly paid-off home (you don’t even wanna KNOW what houses in North Central are worth now!!!!) to hire people to come in every day to take care of you, fix your food, clean your house, and drive you around? Let’s say you’re 88 years old (about Lee & Joan’s age – actually, Lee is over 90). How much longer are you likely to live?
Five years? Ten years? Fifteen at the very outside?
So a practical nurse costs, say, 30 grand a year. Your food and clothing: maybe 5 grand, assuming you cook most if it yourself? Make it 10 grand, so you can go out to eat. But throw in an extra 5 grand anyway, just to cover…stuff.
Hmmm… 30 grand + 5 + 10: $45,000 a year in regular expenses.
You live another 10 years: you need $450,000 to keep you going.
Your net worth at the outset was, shall we say, in the vicinity of a million bucks. No: make that cash holdings. Your house, at the outset, would have been worth around $300,000. Thus you have access to around $1,300,000, or available cash (over 10 years of supposed remaining life) of $130,000/year.
Looks like you’re not gonna starve anytime soon. But what about hiring in geriatric-serving hired help?
If one nurse costs 45 grand a year, you have over twice as much as you need to hire such a person.
Can that possibly be right? English-major math…but still…. The point is, because your investments are steadily regenerating, as long as a serious recession holds off, you’re ultimately subtracting less from your total annual cost of living from the bottom line of your retirement investments.
See wot I mean? It looks suspiciously to me as tho’ if they had stayed in their house, they could have afforded to hire daily nursing care and still come out ahead of what it costs them to live in the Old Folks Prison.
Of course, the story was not that simple. (Is any story?) They had a demented neighbor who had become a very serious problem. She was always at odds with the HOA, and she kept trying to run Lee down in her car.
But then after all the story also was not that complicated. They could have sold that house and moved into another, comparable patio home (North Central is practically blanketed with the things!), thereby escaping the nutso neighbor but retaining the lifestyle that Lee so fully enjoyed. And they would have had plenty of money (he was a nuclear engineer, forgodsake!) to bring in all the hired help they need.
Stan, the new pool dude whose name I got from the neighbors, just showed up, swept, adjusted, reset equipment and breezed out. Much to be hoped is it that this guy will be competent and not a crook. Looks promising so far.
The pool has gone from Similac white to crystal clear, and I’m sincerely hoping that the thing can be maintained at its previous level of excellence. I forgot to ask him if it’s OK to swim in the thing yet. But since I’m now not allowed to get in the sun, lest more skin cancers erupt, that’s moot. By this evening, without a doubt, it will be just fine. So I can do my Dracula thing then.