I have a favorite quote from the New Testament. Every time I start writing a book I tend to quote it at the heading of some chapter and I’ve quoted it at least twice in the blog. The first time back in 2007 in the post: I’m going to hell. It is Mathew Chapter 16 verse 16 when Jesus tells us to â€œbe wise as serpents and innocent as dovesâ€
In JB Marvin 1 I explained that this contractor was good for my humility. That’s because on the several occassions when I saw Jeff’s forked tongue I decided he was a Damon Runyonesqe character worthy of enjoyment. He was that, however he was far more worthy of the skepticism Jesus advised.
I had already had a long history with my front steps. From the day we moved in, 25 years ago last May they have been crumbling away. I was worried about them in the early years especially in Winter when folks would climb the stairs to take close up pictures of the snow sculptures I would build in my front yard. It was bad enough that Jim Heffernan, the Trib’s editorialist once told me a small child had been killed a block from my house when she climbed a large UMD snow sculpture that had been built for a winter carnival. It fell on her. I had no desire to get sued by a gawker because he slipped on an icy broken brick.
So, when an itinerant with broken teeth knocked on my front door in 1998 and told me my chimney could use some tuckpointing I asked instead if he could fix my steps. After some of my own previous shortlived repairs they were looking seedy and in disorder again. He said he could.
There is a very long story about this spring summer fall. I seem to have summarized it in this post from earlier this year when JB Marvin took up where the old fly-by-nighter left off. In fact I see that my first mention of JB here in the blog. Readers take note. JB Marvin sounded pretty good in Angie’s List back then which my May 9th post notes. Even today there is a Better Business Bureau website that gives Jeff’s company an A-. Of course you can find his picture on some “mugshot” websites as well.
Had I known about Jeff Marvin’s criminal past I might not have been put off. I believe in second chances and the story of my first encounter with a brick mason was a case in point. I asked Mr. Davidson a lot of questions and over time he explained how he had previously skipped out of town when he got in over his head leaving unhappy homeowners in the lurch. For the next two years I took him under my wing, helped him complete some of his backlog by joining him in tuckpointing other homes and even advanced him some money to refund one unhappy customer.
He invited me to the party for his new born baby the year after I tuck pointed my own home under his direction. Yes, the stairway was just a first step. He blew out of town a few months after his girlfriend and the mother of his baby told me she was no longer sleeping with him to which I nodded sympathetically and then got the hell away from her. I did not mourn when they left town.