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Mom gets antsy when she's overcharged for work

June 14, 1998

Terry Talbert

Before I tell you my vision of the evolution of modern man, I need to address a couple of topics from a recent column.

I wrote about how my mother was going to defy authorities in Mentor, Ohio by putting her yard sale signs on telephone poles out of the reach of city workers, who ripped them off last time around because she had illegally placed them on city property. (She did not do this intentionally.)

I also wrote about how a co-worker attempted to destroy a wily gopher by rigging up an electric line to a particularly juicy melon.

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A reader called to chastise me for not condemning both acts. He has a point. Civil disobedience should not be condoned, even if it's your 72-year-old mom who's doing the disobeying. I confess I was more concerned about her falling off the ladder than I was about her unlawfulness. I hope you will forgive me.

As for the electric melon (no, that is not a new dance), it was a dangerous thing to do. No one should try it, because they could electrocute themselves.

There, I feel better now.

Now for an update on my mother and her impending move here. I called her the other day to check on how things were going on her end. She had sold her house, but was waiting for the results of the FHA inspection and final settlement.

My mother is absolutely mortified at the costs involved in selling a home.

Since dad died, she's been pretty much constantly mortified - by medical bills etc. It has been an awakening. Everything costs more than mom figured it would, or thinks it should. For example, she thinks it's ridiculous for someone to charge her $75 for giving her 5 minutes of their time. It doesn't matter if it's a lawyer or a doctor or who. That, in her mind, is ridiculous.

I can't say I disagree.

When I called mom I could tell by her voice she was disgusted.

"You aren't going to believe this," she said. "The inspectors found THREE carpenter ants in the house and now I have to hire someone to spray, and it's going to cost $180!! That's ridiculous."

"Yeah, mom, it wasn't like it was a whole horde of 'em," I said. "By the way, how did they know they were carpenter ants, as opposed to regular old ants."

"I don't know," she said. "Maybe they were carrying little saws. How do I know?"

Then she started mumbling. "Why couldn't the ants just have stayed hidden while the inspectors were here," she said.

"It almost sounds like they waited and came out on purpose when the inspectors got there, and waived their little antennas to get their attention, doesn't it?" I said. "Too bad you didn't see them before they did. You could have just stepped on 'em."

My comments met with silence. That's when I remembered my mom does not kill living things, except for the occasional deer fly.

"Sorry, I wasn't thinking," I said. "Tell me, where did they find the little critters?"

"There were two in the garage and one on the back porch," she said. "What did they expect? There are ants all over the place out there. Ants live out there. Sometimes they come in."

"I know, I know," I said in an effort to calm her. It didn't slow her down a bit.

"And now I've got to pay $180 just to get rid of three ants!" she continued.

"Well, maybe you'll make enough at your next yard sale to pay for the bug people," I said.

I didn't ask her if she was still going to take the ladder out and hang the signs on telephone poles. I was afraid of what she'd say.

Seeing as how the ant thing got out of hand, I guess I'll have to wait 'til next time to explain my theory about the evolution of modern man.

I know it's disappointing, but I'm out of room.

Besides, I just saw an ant busily skitter by clasping a little drill bit in one of his appendages. He looked like he was up to no good. I probably need to step on him.

Please don't tell mom.

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