Every surface in the kitchen was coated with a congealed mixture of dust and cooking grease — the counters and floors, cutting board and canisters, cans, spice bottles, knives, utensils, the toaster, and the blender.
  • Every surface in the kitchen was coated with a congealed mixture of dust and cooking grease — the counters and floors, cutting board and canisters, cans, spice bottles, knives, utensils, the toaster, and the blender.
  • Image by Jeff Hannah
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Here to Clean Up

Bruce’s departed tenant had left telltale signs of the "young bachelor" — a floor so encrusted with dirt in places that I had to chisel it off with a knife, a refrigerator reeking of mildew, and a blackened stove that appeared to be the veteran of several exploding grease fires. If it weren’t for Easy-off and Comet, cleaning that stove would have taken all day. The only fixture in the kitchen that I bypassed was a cobweb-festooned window.

By Jeff Hanna, March 22, 1990 | Read full article

I was in the moving company’s yard, at Mission Gorge Road and Twain Avenue, warming up the truck. Divorce moves: how I hated them. I’d seen grown adults fighting tooth and nail over a coffee table.

Moving in, Moving out

There were notes attached, always a bad sign. The second move was the Mount Soledad house. “Divorce. Unamiable. Accept cash only and be careful.” Dark clouds at morning. I was in the moving company’s yard, at Mission Gorge Road and Twain Avenue, warming up the truck. Divorce moves: how I hated them. I’d seen grown adults fighting tooth and nail over a coffee table. I'd been referee, peacemaker, diplomat, cop. I was already dreading that day.

By Greame Donne, Apr 12, 1984 | Read full article

Frude breaks his own 14-minute record in removing and replacing both pump and belt. The entire job for parts and labor on two machines comes to $146.65. The woman seems to feel it is well worth it.

Mechanical Man

“When you go into people’s homes, you’re letting yourself into all kinds of things. You see every aspect of life. I used to go down to North Park and East San Diego, and, boy, was that a mistake. That ended real fast. I’m talkin' about Logan Heights and workin’ on this one refrigerator in this apartment complex that was cockroach city. I took the panel off this refrigerator, and there must have been a thousand of the things.”

By John Brizzolara, Oct. 1, 1992 | Read full article

I had run into a young surfer named Dave. He would surf and I’d drink beer and bullshit him with Amazing Baseboard Stories. In no time we were eclipsing the required 10,000 feet and taking on even more monster jobs. One day we pounded out 32 apartments in Linda Vista.

He Crawled 700 Miles On His Hands and Knees

There’s a rare affliction called the 38-Year-Old Burned-Out-Carpenter Disease. You wake up one morning and your body is crippled, your wife has left you, you’re broke, and your dog got run over. All I had to show for it was about 700 miles of base. At this point, the carpenter has several options: cocaine (stupid), contractors’ school (did you say school?), change within the trade (possible), or get out of the trades completely (good idea).

June 24, 1993 | Read full article

Steve Garber fixing a slab. If a building is to be sold, the toilet, installed in 1988, must be replaced with a 1.6-gallon model and the faucet in the bathtub must be above the floodline of the bath to prevent “gray” water being siphoned back into the potable water supply.

Never in the History of the World Has Man Moved Such Volumes of Water Such Distances

Steve is frowning now. Have I noticed how often a plumber is the point of the parable, the butt of the joke? He likes people who talk to him, he likes to find out who they are, but often when he goes to ritzy areas such as Rancho Santa Fe the customer won’t give him the time of day. He’ll try to strike up a conversation and they’ll say “Yeah, the bathroom’s over there.”

By Tim Brookes, June 26, 1997 | Read full article

Boiled but unbaked bagels left to dry on the floor cannot be easily swept up. You have to bend over and collect them by hand. Their texture is like the unanimated flesh of infants.

All Things Struggle to Remain What They Are

The bathrooms are cleaned every night so you don’t get that nightmare scenario I feared: being ankle deep in dukes, plunger in hand, scraping congealed vomit hardened into a tough polymer off the sides of the thrones with dental instruments and a putty trowel. You clean the mirrors, the sinks, the towel racks, the top and insides of the cans, replace the hand towels and bunwad, wipe the fingerprints off the light switches and door handles.

By John Brizzzolara, Sept 2, 1999 | Read full article

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