My front steps disobligingly continued to crumble after Mr. Davidson’s departure and I reluctantly patched them back together each time leaving the whole an ugly checkerboard of of different colored mortar. It did not help that the railing was knocked usunder three times over the years by errant vehicals most recently two winters ago. (see picture)
This year it seemed time to invest in my home the neighborhood and the betterment of the City of Duluth. Jeff Marvin was just the man to collect the money for its repair.
Jeff was so eager over the phone. He just had to do the work. It would be a great advertisement as it was on such a visible street and he really wanted to concentrate on repair work in the Eastern part of town so as to avoid driving all over the place. Besides the folks out east had more money and more vanity about the upkeep of their homes. Jeff never really said this quite so baldly but I had little doubt that this fit into his personal business equation.
Besides, I enjoyed Jeff’s whirlwind courtship and seize the day attitude. One of the reviewers on Angie’s list was fairly overcome by Jeff’s exuberance. Only one of the four reviews had anything negative to say about Marvin. He had left a mess on the property after the work was completed. Jeff answered that by saying he always left his work spic and span.
Later after we had contracted him to do the tuckpointing on our house Jeff had a landscaper on the job who would take some of the left over sod from Jeff’s home and fix up ours after it was done. Jeff had to get more sod because his Great Danes had torn up the yard.
But the steps were the appetizer. The house was to become the second course and Jeff had a brother Tracy who had bum knees. Jeff was looking for work that his brother could do since standing up at a wall was tough for him. Jeff’s enthusiasm was contagious. I don’t know how many times he shook my hand but it was almost as if he had read the sociological discovery that customers whose hands are brushed by sales clerks during the exchange of money rated them more highly than their counterparts who did not make skin to skin contact during a sale.
Jeff was exstatic over the location of my steps on one of the busiest streets in Duluth on the edge of the territory where he preferred to work. It didn’t help that his significant other had spoken highly of me. Yes, this is where my susceptibility to vanity comes in. If Jeff didn’t have much of a clue that I was well known for my active opposition to the mega school building program in Duluth called the Red Plan I was happy to tell him how irritated I was with the successful con artistry of Johnson Controls. I told Jeff that everyone in town either loved or hated me and he reported back through the weeks that everyone seemed to have an opinion about me.
He also reported back that, as he had hoped, he was getting lots and lots of inquiries. “I want to put my sign in your yard,” he had told me repeatedly. My yard and His steps would make him a small fortune in referrals and he spent his mornings going out and getting more jobs for later in the season. And boy did he get them. A dozen or more.
At this point I should interject an important point. Today, four months wiser I have no idea how closely anythign Jeff Marvin told me resembled the truth. He may have gotten a great many jobs at my famous snow sculpture house or he may not have. I had no reason to doubt Jeff and his apparent joy at hitting gold. I talked to a number of people some of them strangers who recognized me from my previous public notoriety who often accosted me to ask about my contractor or walked past the steps and later the house and paused to talk to me or Jeff’s workers. One of Jeff’s most hardworking masons landed a couple jobs himself much to Jeff’s amusement because, as he said of the young man, “He doesn’t even know anything about the business.”