'Yard Work'

Friday, June 03, 2011

This past weekend, KJ and I headed down to his family beach house for a weekend of slave labour (You may know it by its other name – ‘Yard Work’). KJ had managed to borrow a hydraulic wood splitter, so the whole family headed down to try to split about 5 tonnes of wood that has been lying around in the shed forever - because when you're on holiday, you can't be bothered getting out an axe to chop wood.

The wood splitter was borrowed from a guy we work with who happens to live on a large farm property, and it was built as a trailer so that it could be towed wherever it needed to go. And this particular weekend, it needed to go behind the ute so we could tow it to the beach house.

The trailer was this rickety old thing, more rust than paint and with tyres so old that the trailer felt like it was rolling along on two concrete pipes. The tail-lights were mounted on an old wooden plank that was held on to the trailer with a couple of heavy duty cable ties. So as you can imagine, it was a real sturdy vehicle.

When we set off with the wood splitter in tow, i cringed at every bump, every rattle. But after about an hour or so, I began to think that the trailer was actually up to the trip, and began to relax.

Clearly, I relaxed too soon.

Somewhere on a long, empty stretch of highway, I heard a loud metallic clanging. The removable tyre guard had bounced its way off the trailer and disappeared somewhere into the darkness.
This marked the first of several stops we made along the way to traipse through the darkness by the side of the freeway to retrieve errant wheel guards. The last of these stops was about 15 minutes from our final destination. A distant clattering and a quick look in the rear view mirror told us that the guard had once again vacated the trailer. We pulled to the side of the road and onto the grass, and immediately felt the car sink into the mud. The futile spinning of tyres confirmed it - we were bogged.

Stranded by the side of the road, in the pitch black on a quiet highway in the middle of nowhere, without a single bar of phone reception, we could do nothing but wait for someone to stop and offer to pull us out. With no street lights around, we wandered up the road by phone light to find the wheel guard, trying to stay out of the mud.

Thankfully, it wasn’t long before a bloke in a 4WD pulled over and offered to rescue us.
He didn't introduce himself, he just got right into the process of pulling us out of the smelly, muddy ground. He will forever be known to me as 'The Mysterious Stranger’. He knelt on the wet, muddy ground to tie the rope he used to pull us out, as thought this were an every day occurrence for him. In no time at all we were free, and our mysterious stranger disappeared into the night once more.

It made me feel quite good about the state of the world. That there are still people who will stop and help a stranger who is broken down (or bogged) by the side of the road - i honestly felt up until last weekend that this sort of basic decency was gone from the world.
We need more mysterious strangers in the world, but i'm glad to know that there are still at least one or two out there.

When we finally arrived at the beach house and got down to the process of splitting the wood, there was a kind of evil serial killer-ness about it all. As we split some of the freshly cut wood, it began to leak sap - sap that was so intensely, vividly red that it looked exactly like blood. As the splitter pushed in to the soft flesh of the logs, the sap would begin to ooze, and then suddenly squirt out and all over everyone, like some kind of body-chopping scene from Dexter.

And as if being bogged, forced to do slave labour and murdering trees wasn't enough to kill any tiny shred of joy the weekend may have held - someone dropped a huge log on my foot, causing me to swear so loudly that it could be heard above the sound of both the chainsaw and the petrol motor of the wood splitter. I've been hobbling around all week with a giant black bruise on my foot.

I think we can safely surmise from this experience that Slave Labour (or Yard Work, if you prefer) is really an evil, injurious and murderous pursuit that should be avoided at all costs.


Tyge said...

"If trees could scream, I don't think we'd be so cavalier about cutting them down." -A Deep Thought by Jack Handy

Enjoyed the post!

Freelance Search said...

Wow. Talk about all the literal hard work. Good thing for you that you have "the mysterious stranger" to help you out of that situation. I hate yard work too you know.

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