Tom Clyde: Reentering the economy, one square foot of carpet at a time
The roll of color-matched duct tape I’ve been using to patch the carpet finally ran out. I couldn’t find anything that was close as a replacement, which only meant one thing. It was time to replace the carpet. Actually, it was time to replace the carpet 10 years ago when the seams started to fail and the backing was becoming the fronting in a lot of places. The pad was crunchy like cornflakes underfoot.
Over the years, I’ve considered replacing it. Every trip to Home Depot included a walk through the carpet department. There were a million choices. That was part of the problem. One day I liked a dark color, another day something neutral with a texture in it. Sometimes a multi-colored pattern appealed. Then every time I thought I had decided on a replacement, other stuff happened instead.
There were new puppies along the way. No point in putting in new carpet until the dog is at least a year old. very dog I’ve ever had has chewed the carpet off the corner of one of the stairs that sticks out into the room. It’s irresistible. I’ve had that fixed a couple of times, though for the last several years, that roll of desert digital camo duct tape has done the job. In the years when the dog situation was under control, there were some amazing tractor finds. A 1962 Oliver 550, a 1948 McCormick-Deering W-4 — or new carpet? The choice is obvious, and so the barn is full and the stairs are becoming dangerous because of the deteriorated carpet.
So, like apparently everybody else, I used the shut-in period for some home improvement. I finally made a decision and replaced the carpet. It’s a lovely color. The official, Italian designer name is “Padrone di casa sabbia della spiaggia,” which translates to “landlord beige.”
The carpet purchase was the first significant commerce I’ve engaged in for months. My credit card was declined on the first try. I got home and called the bank’s fraud detection line. It turns out that in the last three months, I’ve spent so little that the charge for the carpet set off all the alarms. I have a very small house, and so it wasn’t really all that much. But after three months of my economic dormancy, the bank was sure there was a problem. These are strange times.
The installers showed up a little after 8 and worked until about 6. I’m not sure they stopped for lunch. They knew what they were doing and the two of them went at it efficiently. Carpet installers are like ants. They can carry 10 times their weight on their backs. I offered to help lug the cuts up the stairs, but he insisted he had it. He did, but not easily. There are no old carpet installers.
They had the entire house torn up, and everything unplugged. I puttered around the ranch with a couple of little projects. It got to be lunchtime, and the stuff I had in the fridge was blocked by a piano. For the second time since March 14, I ate a restaurant meal. The credit card worked, so apparently the bank has decided life has resumed, at least to the extent of $20. I drove to Kamas and had a great Reuben sandwich at the Mirror Lake Diner. They are open for real, inside, normal restaurant service, and it was pretty busy. I got mine to go. Not quite ready for that much normal yet.
The carpet guys either didn’t want lunch or didn’t understand me when I offered to get something for them. The language barrier was a challenge. I brought them chocolate chip cookies and Cokes. Mostly they were just going at it like a CrossFit workout.
When they rolled out the pad, it had a colorful geometric pattern on it. It looked really interesting, and I wondered if I had made the wrong choice with the landlord beige. Too late to be re-thinking that one. Carpet on the floor doesn’t look anything at all like carpet in the store. It doesn’t look a lot like the large sample I brought home to try out. It’s the same stuff I ordered, but whole rooms of it look a lot different than a couple of square feet. It’s hard to have strong feelings about beige, but all things considered, it could have been a little darker. On the other hand, it’s a perfect match for the dirt road in front of the house, so in theory it won’t show what gets tracked in.
Like any improvement, it makes the rest of the house look bad. It’s a domino effect that can quickly get out of control. There are a lot of things that could get changed, starting with getting the piano out of the kitchen.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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