My Trip Home Featured An Unexpected Surprise


There are whole weeks when everything goes right — and then there are weeks like this week.

I started out by leaving my new, barely open Missouri antiques shop to come back to the Florida store to run a huge Victorian estate sale. I told you about that. It was going to be fun, and lucrative enough that I could afford airfare.

My first hint that things would not be coming up roses came at the airport with an irate traveler repeatedly screaming, “Pat me down!” to the TSA agents. He was going to be on my flight until they escorted him away, still screaming. A mere harbinger of things to come. Things with the general theme, “This can be fixed, but only after a lot of effort.”

When I got here, I was tired of traveling and wanted to settle in with a Netflix stand-up comedy show and a glass of wine. But when I opened the door to my room, the walls of my cozy retreat were covered with black mold — a residual effect of Hurricane Irma, and the overworked roofers forgetting to finish the work on a whole corner of the house.

The company was very apologetic and put me up in a hotel for a few days while they “fixed the problem.” To me, “fixing the problem” means a team of people in hazmat suits strip the room of all fabric, replace and paint the drywall and do some kind of remediation thing on top of that. To the roofing company, “fixing the problem” means replacing the drywall and having their receptionist (yes!) come out to wipe a damp rag over the furniture.

I had checked out of the hotel when they told me all was well, worked at the estate pricing things all day, and come home to a damp-smelling room where all my electronics had been piled on the bed, the baseboards hadn’t been painted, the windowsills were still a black mess, and I had to throw out two pieces of furniture because they looked like a science experiment gone bad. All while not breathing.

I called the roofing company with the utmost politeness and said I was still not able to use the room, and they said the owner was out for three days, but I could go back to the hotel — at my own expense.

Humph. I hesitated to go back to the hotel because their non-smoking rooms reeked of smoke, I could hear every footstep of the people above me, the tub handle came off in my hand, the toilet wouldn’t flush and I had been awakened suddenly in the middle of the night when my bed jolted down two inches toward the floor for no apparent reason. That will wake you up.

So I moved into the only room that didn’t smell of mildew — Mark’s workshop. I made a little pile of tarps and blankets and slept like a rock. On a rock.

But the main thing is, I’ve avoided lung disease (or whatever) and, if an ax doesn’t fall on my head, I’ll be fine until the owner gets back. When an ax will definitely fall.