ValueSpeak
A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker

THE SOUND OF EGO

Listen – do you hear that sound?

There it is: plop.  Ploop.  Drizzle.

You may think it sounds like water dripping into a bucket – a bucket that sounds as though it is becoming alarmingly full as we speak.  And it is indeed the sound of water dripping into a rapidly filling bucket.  But it is so much more than that.  It is the sound of laziness.  It is the sound of procrastination.  And it is the sound of ego.

Mine.

Run amok.

Plop.  Ploop.  Drizzle.

It all started about a year ago, when some fairly violent spring wind storms made a mess of the shingles on my roof.  Thankfully, my father-in-law can fix anything, and it only took a couple of plates of Anita’s chicken enchiladas to lure him down here to teach me how to repair the shingles.  He taught me how to clear away the old shingles, to cut and place the new shingles, to nail them in securely and then to fix them in place with tar.

“If you do it right,” he promised me, “your shingles will stay in place through anything.”

Well, ALMOST anything.  A couple of months ago a fierce late winter storm blew a few of my recently repaired shingles out of place.  It was cold and slippery on the roof, and I didn’t dare go up on there to fix them again.  Then an unusually wet spring made it difficult to clear away, pound and tar.  When I finally had some time on a sunny afternoon, I took my roofing tools up to make the needed repairs – again.

Only I didn’t take any tar, because I didn’t have any.  And the hardware store is a good half-mile away, and dinner was almost ready and I didn’t want to take the time it would require to drive all the way down there to pick up some more tar.

“It’ll be OK,” I reasoned.  “I’ll just put a few extra nails in these shingles to hold them in place until I can get some tar.”

“But what if we have another wind storm?” Anita asked when I came down from the roof much more quickly than she expected.

“Oh, I don’t think that will happen,” I said.  “How often do we get storms like that?”

“Often enough,” she said.

“Well, even if the wind does blow a little, I’ve nailed it down tight,” I assured her.  “We’ll be fine until I can get some more tar up there.”

And we WERE fine – until last night.  I won’t say last night’s storm was “the perfect storm,” but it was enough to blow my well-nailed shingles into the next county.  Anita and I looked outside and noticed that while our neighbors’ shingles were laying down flat in the storm, our shingles stood up in the wind like hair on the back of an angry dog’s neck.

“Why . . .” she started to ask, then thought better of it.

But it was too late.  I already knew her question – and the one-word answer: “Tar.”

To her credit, Anita didn’t boast about how she and her father were right and I was wrong.  She didn’t say a word about it as I gathered towels and buckets to catch the water that is even now running down our roof, sloshing through the unprotected area where the shingles used to be and cascading into our living room – a plopping, plooping, drizzling testament to laziness, procrastination and ego.

Mine.

Run amok.

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— © Joseph Walker

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E-mail Joseph at: valuespeak@msn.com 

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"How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.