Adventures On the Roof - Let It Snow part 2

So, half my roof came off in the wind storm on Tuesday night. And rain was expected the following Wednesday night. I had no choice. I had to fix this bad boy myself.

I went to work hoping to reborrow a giant ladder from a coworker. I had borrowed his ladder once before, back when shingles blew off the roof of my 2-story workshop, storage thing out back. Unfortunately, he was out sick. I knew it was going to take me a long time to get a vehicle I could put such a huge ladder on, drive all the way into town to Lowe's to buy one, grab everything I needed, including the giant aluminum ladder, strap it to the vehicle, and get it to the house. And time was something I didn't have much of.

So I emailed my boss and said "roof blew off. Gotta go home and fix it." And I went home.

I have a minitruck with a 6 foot bed. I have a big-assed 4x4 with a fiberglass shell on the back that probably isn't good for strapping giant ladders to. And I have Dad's old bananawagon, the yellow hearse I inherited when he died. I could strap the ladder down in the bed of the minitruck, with a good three fourths of it hanging over the front of my truck and the possibility of having it bend as I was driving it home, not to mention pivoting off the top of my cab and falling into the street. Or I could risk cracking the fiberglass shell over the back of my 4x4, despite not really having anything to strap it to up there in the first place. Or I could take Dad's old hearse, which I'm selling anyway, and strap it onto the roof of that. It's as long as an SUV and has the added bonus of my not caring what the hell happens to it.

Guess which one I chose?

Yeah, bananawagon and I headed off into Memphis to visit Lowe's and buy me a long aluminum extendible ladder so I could get up on my damn roof and start repairing it. It was about 9:30 I guess when I headed out. It takes about 45 minutes to get there.

It was a joy trying to maneuver that damn ladder around the aisles in Lowe's. And you KNOW they all came running to help me as soon as they saw me knocking their shit off the shelves three stories up while flinging that thing around. NOT. $400 later I was out the door with my big-assed ladder, several boxes of roofing nails, some roofing glue, and me forgetting to buy a damn toolbelt, which I would be needing.

Oh, and they didn't have the shingles I needed. Luckily for me, though, the guy I chased down and forced to help me had worked for a roofing contractor before and knew where I needed to go to get the right shingles. He drew me a map to the store that had them even.

The drive home was a blast. The straps holding the giant gleaming ladder hummed a lovely tune, like an oboe in the wind, as I drove along at a leisurely 55 mph. Any faster and the ladder started to rock a little. Any sudden stops and the ladder just might launch off my roof like a missile, so I tried to do everything very slowly and very carefully. Oh, and also, I had transferred the insurance from the bananawagon over to my 4x4, so before leaving I had called my insurance agent and asked for a policy on the wagon. They had said they'd call me back when it was officially insured, but they never did. So I may or may not have had insurance on the car at the time, yet another reason for my careful driving.

The further towards The Boondocks I went, the less traffic there was to deal with. Soon it was just me and my ladder, strapped like a huge ugly surfboard on top of my cool yellow hearse. Yeeha! The hot chicks can hardly resist me now!

I got home and unloaded my flatulent ladder before pulling all the rest of my supplies out of the back of the wagon. "Dammit, I forgot to get a toolbelt!" I walked around the house gathering up shingles and putting them into a neat pile on the front porch. I put the new shingles on the porch with them and checked to make sure they matched. Sure enough, they were identical. Thank God! I won't have to reuse any of the old high-flying shingles.

I had bought a ladder stabilizer to help me keep the ladder off my gutters. I hadn't worked with one of these before, but I knew I needed one. Once I had it assembled and attached to the ladder, I wrestled it up against the roof of my new house. It was a pain in the ass and I was quickly pouring sweat. Then I realized it was well past lunchtime and I was starving. So I went inside to eat before getting down to the major business of climbing my house.

As I sat there eating my sandwich, something clicked in my head. I got up and went outside. I stepped back and looked at my ladder. "It's upside down, dammit."

I had it flipped over, with the stabilizer on the wrong way, and the extension part on the bottom side instead of the top side like it's probably supposed to be.

I took the ladder down and flipped it over, so that the top half of the ladder, the extension half, slid on top of the base instead of underneath it. Then I moved the stabilizar bar around to the other side side, and stood the ladder back up. Then I grabbed my hammer and the caulk gun loaded with roofing cement and I headed up the ladder, hammer in one hand, caulk gun in the other. As soon as I got to the top of the ladder I realized that this roof is steeper than I had realized. It is certainly much steeper than the roof on my previous house. I climbed over the top step of the ladder and started trying to crawl up the roof to a place where I could set down the hammer and caulk gun without having them slide right off the roof.

Three steps up the cliff-like incline and I began to slide backwards. My feet couldn't grip at all. I slid faster and faster. It was a good thing the ladder was there or I'd be in the hospital right now. I managed to stick one foot back and catch the top step of the ladder and stop myself from skidding off the roof. Because of the gutters and the stabilizer bar, I had been forced to set the ladder up at a much flatter angle than they recommend. My Wife, who of course knows everything and is always happy to let everyone know, had been standing down below informing me of this. Luckily for me I'm a man, and so I ignored her. If I hadn't, and I had set the ladder at a more verticle angle, the ladder would have simply fallen away from me when my foot hit it and I would have flown off the roof, down onto the concrete sidewalk below.

I decided that I needed better shoes. These were, after all, the same shoes I wore inside Kentucky Fried Chicken a few months ago when I skated across their nasty bathroom floor peeing all the way.

I put on a pair of old-fashioned Mr. Rogers style shoes with a flat rubber sole and no fancy turf treads or pump action or any of that shit. These were the shoes I normally wore on the roof. I had just neglected to put them on. Silly me.

Back up the ladder I went, no tools this time, to test my roofing shoes. Once to the top, I crawled on all fours, careful to press the rubber soles of my shoes into the shingles with every step. I made it almost to the top half of the roof, where all the damage was, before sliding again. The rubber soles were positively shredding, like a pencil eraser, trying desparately to cling to the damn roof. I could tell they would mostly work, but all I needed was one slip where I fell onto my side or my knees and then it would be all over. I would sail off the roof like a sheet of ice.

I climbed back down.

"We need to call someone. If we can't get anyone then I'll risk it. Maybe we'll flip a rope over from the other side and I'll try to hang onto that. But if we can, I'd like to see how a professional roofer gets up on this roof. It's steep as hell."

We managed to get a guy who said he was already out in The Boondocks repairing someone else's shredded roof. He said he'd come around 3:30. So we sat there, staring at the tools and the ladder and the shingles, hoping and praying that this guy actually shows up.

There's a funny thing about Memphis. You can go through the Yellow Pages and call every single contractor in it, plumbers, roofers, lawn care guys, whatever. More than half of them just won't show up. No explanation, no return call. They say they're on their way and then they never come. It's the culture here. And it makes life difficult.

The sun began to drop in the sky and it was no longer bright and warm anymore. If he didn't show up, I was going to be on the roof, sliding and trying to hang onto a rope, in the dark. And then came the problem of not really knowing entirely what the hell I was doing.

Two trucks pulled up in front of my house. A white guy with a goatee stepped out of one of the trucks and came over to talk to me. We told him the situation and showed him our shingles and nails. He motioned to the guys in the other truck and 2 Mexicans stepped out, came over to the porch, grabbed up the shingles, and flew up the ladder. I stepped out into the yard to see what they did once they reached the roof. Either they were going to amaze me, or they were going to come flying off again. Either way, I wanted to see.

They didn't even crawl up the roof like I had. They stood as upright as they could and just walked, on their toes the entire way, up to the top half of my roof where the damage was. I noticed that they had a big foam cushion with them up there.

"What's the cushion for?" I asked the white guy standing next to me.

"That's in case they slip," he said. "Foam cushions are a lifesaver on a roof. They won't slide at all up there. If you start to slip, you grab onto that. It'll stop you."

"Seriously?" I asked incredulously. "It looks like you just pulled it out of an old seat from a chair on the side of the road or something."

"We did."

I looked next at the Mexicans' shoes.

"Dope smokers?" I said aloud. "They're wearing dope smokers? Are those good for roofing?"

"Yeah, those are great," he replied. "They have flat rubber soles and won't slip at all. A roofer has to have a good pair of those, or something like them. Most shoes won't work up there."

"Yeah, but DOPE SMOKERS?"

"What're Dope Smokers?" My Wife asked.

"Hush Puppies," the man told her. "They used to be really cheap, but now they're in style or something and they cost a fortune. But we have to have them. Everybody wore'em back in high school, but we called'em 'dope smokers.'"

"Yeah, I used to have a pair," I added. "I didn't even remember that they were Hush Puppies. No one ever called them anything but dope smokers."

"Why" My Wife asked.

Me and the roofer guy looked at each other without saying anything.

"Um, because ... uh ... I don't remember," I lied.

While the 2 Mexicans were on the roof, we showed our now grounded shingles to the roofer and asked him if he had any idea why they came off when they were so new.

"Yeah," he said, flipping the shingles over and over. "These are great shingles, and you have a great roof. But look where they drove the nails on these. They put them too high. These were never right. The strip on the back hasn't even melted to the shingle below. It should only take one hot summer and every shingle on your roof should melt to the one below it. But if you don't install it right then it never will. These all were nailed wrong and obviously never set to each other. They've even still got the clear plastic over the glue. That should have all melted a long time ago."

"So it's possible," My Wife said unhappily, "that our entire roof was installed incorrectly and might blow off like this?"

"Yeah maybe," he replied. "Nail guns are a great thing, but when you get a builder who wants to make easy money, he'll go over that roof with one and just shoot the shingles as fast as he can not paying any attention to whether he put the nails in the right spot or not. All of these were nailed wrong. Also, you're at the top of a hill and you don't have any trees out front to block the wind. So you're getting hit by that, too."

"Oh great," I commented.

The Mexicans took about 45 minutes and then they were done. The roof looked like brand new.

I wrote a check for $125 and they left. That was it. I was still alive, the roof was finished, we now know that I need to buy a new pair of dope smokers, er, Hush Puppies, and find an old foam cushion, and the next time this happens hopefully I can either fix it myself, or else we're calling that guy back. That's what I call getting my money's worth.

The rain came down Wednesday night. It was ice by morning. My neighbor's roof is still exposed, but mine looks good as new. Yippee ki yay, mutherfucka!

Hugh Puppies Bridgeports Dope Smokers
Dope Smokers
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