Get a Grip 

A study in stupidity

A study in stupidity

Last week, able associate Rick and I were heading to an inspection, when we heard this radio bulletin: Airplane crash in Bellevue, emergency equipment on the way—and it was right in the area where we were headed.

Of course, our first thoughts were with the unfortunate folks who had augured in. Our second thoughts were along the lines of, Might as well turn back, because we’ll never get past all the fire trucks and looky-loos.

Just then, a second bulletin: Disregard earlier news flash. False alarm. Apparently, somebody saw a plane go down behind some trees and dialed up 911, when in fact the plane had just made a routine landing.

Now, I ask you, what kind of adrenaline-crazed, night-sweating doom junkie sees an airplane gliding down behind some trees—wings level, wheels down, and props turning—and is seized by visions of fiery chaos? I don’t know about y’all, but I’d figure, Must be an airport back there.

Recently, I got some insight into what it’s like to be around these visionaries while they go about their daily routine. A few weeks ago, Rick and I went to do an inspection, and as soon as we pulled in the driveway, the woman of the house shot out the front door like one of those sneezy smush-faced yappy dogs. She started barking at us before we were all the way out of the truck. “Can you look at the inside first,” she says. “I don’t want you to track up the house.” We rolled our eyes and cheerfully complied.

As soon as we were inside, she stayed about six inches in front of us and kept asking, “Is there anything I can do?” Considering the fact that this lady had no tools, no clipboard, and probably no real home inspection experience, the obvious answer was “Not hardly.” But I know the first rule of dealing with a person with a personality disorder is, Don’t Get ’Em Riled. So I said, “No ma’am. But thanks for offering.” Then I looked at my watch and said, “You know, I think The Price Is Right is on. Have you seen Bob Barker since he got his head shaved and got that big ol’ spider tattoo on his noggin?” She trotted off down the hall.

A few minutes later, Realtor pal Sandra found me in the kitchen and asked, “Where’s Rick?”

“It’s his turn in the crawl space,” I told her.

“He’s been gone a long time,” she said. People always worry about a guy in a crawl space. I think it’s kinda sweet. But then I thought, Where’s that woman? I figured she was bugging Rick, who’s too polite just to walk away. So I went to find ’em. When I got to the garage, I heard, “Mmmf Wuh... Letmuh ow hur...”

Rick was trapped in the crawl space. The crawl space door was locked, and the riding mower was pushed up against it. I freed Rick, and he postulated, “The door musta blown closed. And the latch musta caught in the process.”

“Nope, buddy, you were purposely imprisoned. Go dust off. I’ve got to counsel somebody.” I went looking for that woman.

I found her on the sofa, talking to Realtor pal Sandra. “Pardon me, ma’am,” I said, “but did you by any chance imprison my man Rick in the crawl space, and then maybe push the lawn mower up against the door out of sheer cruelty?”

“I—I thought he was finished,” her face was twitching now. “I thought he had carelessly left the door ajar.”

“Ma’am, I’m sorry,” I said, “but you’ve got this coming. In 11 years of home inspecting, we have yet to track up a house or leave a crawl space door ajar. And now, for the very first time, I’ve had to rescue my hardworking associate from a crawl space, on account of you. We appreciate you allowing us into your home, but if it’s not asking too much, could you please stay right there on that sofa until our truck has left your driveway?”

Realtor pal Sandra said it was the first time she ever saw me mad. And I wasn’t mad, exactly; I was just thinking to myself that some people need to get up every morning, drink drown a big gulp of Thorazine, and follow it with a generous Haldol chaser, available by prescription from the local pharmacy. For those who see crashes where there are landings, I strongly recommend it.

Walter Jowers can be reached at


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