I am being gifted a sledge hammer by my sister. This is what sisters do for each other. Sis and her husband have a spare one, so she will pass one of them onto me, in the event I ever have to smash through the wooden floor of my older investment flat to rescue men trapped underneath it. This is very thoughtful, and forward-thinking of her. Thank you, Sis. And I promise that if there are ever men trapped underneath my floor, either in my own flat or in my investment flat, it won’t be intentional. I’m not actually in the habit of keeping men under my floor, and if I ever do have them there, it’s for a legitimate reason. Just as well, because it would be a pain in the neck having to feed them, and empty the litter trays on an ongoing basis.
In the interests of full disclosure, it would have to be briefly mentioned that during the phone conversation that resulted in a sledge hammer coming my way – in a good way, of course – one of the conversationalists had a Jack Daniels in her hand, and the other one had a gin. However, that in no way negates the spirit in which the gift was given.
The conversation began normally enough as an update on the Saturday evening plumbing emergency I had dealt with in my investment flat’s laundry. I was relieved that I hadn’t been told by the after-hours plumber that he was only able to do a temporary fix, until a major overhaul of pipes and taps could be done. Being an older property, previously owned by an elderly man who had long since ceased to bother with repairs and maintenance before he passed away, things do tend to go kaput. The odd overhaul here and there is not entirely unexpected. Dodging that particular bullet, though, was especially welcome, because, as I told my sister, I have to get underfloor insulation installed as well, as per the new government regulations for rental properties. I was also still smarting a little from a bigger than expected electrician’s bill the day before.
Then the conversation began veering. Which is also quite normal, really, when you’ve known someone for their entire lifetime. Sis expressed surprise that there was enough space between the ground and the floor for anyone to get down there to install underfloor insulation. I initially got caught out with that thought, too, but then found out that here in Christchurch, if there is a thirty centimetre space between ground and floor, then that is deemed enough room for someone to do the job. In my investment flat, there is thirty four centimetres of space. The job was on.
Sis began having uncomfortable flashbacks to getting under the floor at their previous (also older) home, after the September 2010 earthquake. The shaking had disconnected the shower’s downpipe from the drainpipe, and Sis’s number got pulled as the one to go underfloor and fix it. Something to do with her being 152cm (5’) compared to her husband’s 190 cm (6’ 3”), I expect. Torch in hand, tied to a safety rope, and wearing a motorbike crash helmet as a precaution against banging her noggin against the floor joists, she wriggled along the ground to the where the bathroom was sited. The crash helmet she was used to wearing, due to her and her husband having owned motorbikes for years, but I’m guessing that it might have been the first time her husband had ever had her on a leash. I won’t delve into that too much, though. Suffice to say, she completed the job without too much problem, and lived to tell the tale.
But, Christchurch wasn’t finished with the earthquakes. In February the following year, we got slammed with another much more savage one. This time, the underfloor space at Sis’s house got filled almost to the top with thick mud-like liquifaction in one quick minute!. It kinda gave Sis the heebie-jeebies to think about what might have happened to her if this had occurred while she’d been under the floor. There would have been no way out for her, and very doubtful if her husband could have pulled her out with the rope against all that liquefaction.
So, with the safety of the men, or women, in mind who might be under my floor when another earthquake goes off (the Alpine fault may erupt one day in the not too distant future – such is the reality of living in Christchurch), Sis is gifting me a sledge hammer, so I can smash the floor and get them out if they get trapped. I’m very tickled about the heroics of doing this, and refuse to entertain any thoughts about just how effective, or otherwise, I’ll actually be at smashing through the floor – or the foundations of the flat, as another option suggested by Sis. Maybe that’s not strictly true about refusing to think certain thoughts. I admit that I am wondering just a wee bit about how much possibility there is of a sledge hammer bouncing back and knocking me senseless. Or, how much power does one need to smash through a floor. On that last point, I’m going to go with the adrenalin-rush thing that will be powering it, rather than relying on my yet-to-be-discovered prowess with a sledge hammer.
Whether I ever use my soon-to-be-gifted sledge hammer in the manner intended, or not – and I’m siding with the preference of not – I rather like the thought of just having it, anyway. Having it in my garage will give me serious gravitas, I reckon. I mean, who would mess with a woman with a sledge hammer in her garage? I’m hoping I don’t ever have to put my hands on it in a way that I mean business, but maybe just picking it up now and then and feeling the power will give me a secret wee thrill.
Something tells me that I need to go and climb a mountain, or cross a desert on a camel, or trek the Te Aararoa Trail. You just know that your life is lacking something when a sledge hammer is doing it for you.
Still, I can’t help liking the thought of having it – and I’m old enough now for weird to be socially acceptable. In fact, if we’re not a bit weird by now, we need to be trying harder.