Neighbourhood Remodel Watch

‘Have you seen this?’ I gestured out the window for my son Jason to come and have a look. He rolled his eyes – obedient to every teenager cliché he could find – and joined me at the parted curtains.

         ‘What am I looking at?’ he asked with a sigh.

         ‘The house next door,’ I pointed. ‘They’re moving building supplies in!’

         ‘So?’ he frowned. ‘Why do we care?’

         ‘Because it means they’re going to start remodelling!’

         ‘I hate to repeat myself, but why do we—’

         ‘Because it’s probably going to be loud!’ I interrupted. ‘And obnoxious.’

         ‘How annoying that must be,’ he said, shooting me a pointed look that I didn’t get until later that night.

         ‘I know, right!’ I cried.

         ‘It looks like it’s just tiles and stuff,’ Jason squinted at the construction van. ‘So it’ll just be a bathroom remodel or something.’

         ‘A bathroom remodel? Near me?’ I shook my head. ‘Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve seen a good bathroom remodel?’

         ‘Didn’t we get ours remodelled like three years ago?’ Jason frowned again.

         ‘Oh yes, but that was terrible,’ I waved his question away. ‘Your father designed it himself, so it’s never been good.’

         ‘Fair enough,’ Jason nodded.

         ‘I wonder if they’ll let me come have a peek at their plans,’ I pressed a hand to my mouth.

         ‘Why would they let you do that?’ Jason frowned. ‘Do you even know them?’

         ‘Of course, I know them!’ I insisted. ‘I know all of my neighbours.’

         ‘Oh yeah?’ he raised a suspicious eyebrow. ‘Name them.’

         ‘What?’

         ‘Name the people that live in that house,’ he pointed. ‘First or last name of either of them.’

         I squinted in silence for a second, flipping through my mental Rolodex.

         ‘Maybe I can pretend to be one of their professional bathroom designers from Melbourne and sneak in that way.’

         Mum,’ Jason groaned. ‘Why do you have to make everything so difficult?’

         ‘I don’t make everything difficult!’ I protested.

         ‘Then leave these people alone!’ he shook his head, walking away.

         ‘I will, I will,’ I called after him.

         Maybe if I make them a pie…

A Bathtub Opportunity

‘Wait, this is going to take how long to fix?’

         ‘I’m not sure,’ the plumber grunted, before yawning hard enough I could see his tonsils. ‘Couple of months, maybe?’

         ‘A couple of—what do you mean a couple of months?’

         ‘So imagine one month,’ he said, sounding bored, ‘and then kinda double that amount of time in your head. Couple months.’

         His eyes narrowed as he thought something through, then he shook his head.

         ‘Maybe triple it.’

         ‘That’s unacceptable!’ I cried, my blood pressure rising.

         ‘Hey, pal,’ he said, adjusting his work belt and frowning. ‘You asked me to come out and supply you with a bathtub remodel cost for Sydney homes, and I gave it to ya. I don’t need no attitude from you.’

         ‘You’re right, you’re right,’ I conceded, putting my hands up in surrender. ‘I apologise. It’s been a hard week.’

         ‘It’s forgotten,’ the plumber shrugged, tucking something back into his work belt.

         ‘So why is it going to take so long?’

         ‘Wellll,’ he started, rocking back on his heels and adjusting his cap. ‘There’s parts I gotta order, contractors I’ve got to organise. Plus, I’m going on vacation next week. Bermuda, thank you for asking.’

         A thought suddenly occurred to him and he clicked his fingers excitedly.

         ‘Hey, there’s an idea,’ he murmured. ‘I might be able to get you a new bathtub by the end of this week. I can give ya a discount and everything.’

         ‘Oh? What’s the catch?’

         ‘No catch!’ he chuckled. His smile slowly faded and he held up a finger. ‘One catch.’

         ‘What is it?’ I sighed.

         ‘It’s a converted tub, for an old lady. Specifically, I did an easy step bathtub conversion on it.’

         ‘So it’s…’

         ‘Designed for people who can’t use a bath anymore, correct.’

         I sighed, considering it.

         ‘You can have it done by the weekend?’

         ‘Ayup.’

         ‘For half the price of the one I wanted?’

         ‘Well, maybe not—’

         ‘For half the price?’

         He sighed and held out his hand.

         ‘It’s a deal.’