The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

May 6, 2012

Tom Lavis | 'My' roof causes flurry of emotion


— As I sat at the kitchen table contemplating what I wanted for breakfast, my wife entered the room.

Normally, she places the newspaper on the kitchen table, but on this particular morning, she tossed a black shingle on my placemat.

“What are we going to do about this?” she said.

I didn’t know what to say.

“Is it a new advertising gimmick?” I asked.

She didn’t think it was funny.

I tried my best to deflect her inquiry.

“It looks like some roofing business came up with a great advertisement, but they didn’t put the company name on it,” I said.

In short, I was informed that it was time to get serious about getting my house in order.

It’s odd. When something goes wrong or needs fixing, it’s always my house.

I tried to explain that the shingle most likely blew off a neighbor’s house and ended up in our front yard.

But she informed me that because we had a mild winter, doesn’t mean the cold didn’t take its toll.

“That spring Nor’easter must have caused a storm of shingles to be ripped from the roof,” she said.

One shingle does not constitute a storm.

I said it to myself knowing that saying it out loud would cause a bigger squall.

I didn’t like where this conversation was leading.

I didn’t have to wait long to get my marching orders.

“You’d better get the ladder out and check for damage,” she said.

Ah, the ladder.

Ladders and I don’t get along anymore. I own a 40-foot wooden ladder that has been stored in the garage for decades.

I used the monstrosity when I did my own siding, soffit and facia work on “my” home.

That seems like a lifetime ago.

Judging from the stiffness in my knees, I’m not buying into the 60 is the new 40 notion.

I also have a 24-foot extension ladder that I use to clean gutters.

But I opted to use my newest favorite tool: The telephone.

I looked in the yellow pages under Cheap Roofing Companies and picked a firm called Cheap Roofing, Done Cheap.

A guy by the name of Ronnie showed up to inspect my roof and offer an estimate.

I suspected that something may not be kosher when he asked if I had a ladder he could borrow.

I took him to my garage and pointed to the 40-footer.

“Man, that’s too heavy; do you have something lighter?” he complained.

I was about to run him off my property when he spotted the smaller ladder.

“Grab the other end, man, and we’ll carry it to the house,” he said.

He climbed the ladder and disappeared from view as he surveyed the roof.

About two minutes later, he reappeared and came down the ladder.

“It looks bad, man,” he said.

“Any idea what this may cost me?” I inquired.

He said it all depends on what I want.

“Your roof would look good with a weather vane,” he said.

He said he could work it into the deal if I decided to sign a contract that afternoon.

He gave me a quote for the roof and said the weather vane would be an extra $1,400.

The estimator got a puzzled look on his face when I asked him how many square of shingles it would take to cover my roof.

After a brief pause, he said, “Whatever it takes, man.”

Needless to say, he didn’t get the job.

If I were younger, I would do it myself.

But I don’t need a weather vane to show me which way the wind is blowing.

With age comes wisdom and telltale signs that things change.

I’ve discovered that I no longer try to hold my stomach in, no matter who walks into the room, and my knees buckle easier than my belt.

But I’m confident things will work out.

The one thing I haven’t lost is hope.

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