A friend of ours has told legendary stories about his father, who was the king of all the scroungers. He always had some scheme going to get something for free. One of my favorite stories commonly used to illustrate this point was an incident while their family was driving in their van and suddenly Dad saw a shoe on the side of the road. He swerved to the side of the road like Steve McQueen in a 65 Mustang, slammed the vehicle to a stop and commanded the children:

"Get out of the car and get that shoe!"

All whining in unison:
"Daaad, it's ONE SHOE."

"But it's a good shoe!"

It was thing by which they were most embarrassed. Their dad's propensity to seek out free things... not to mention the fact that more often than not, those free things came from the trash. Or at least they were headed that way and he cut them off at the pass.

Call it dumpster diving, call it alley hunting, call it resourcefulness, it all comes down to the same thing: pulling crap out of the trash and putting it in your house. The father on Sampson and Son was his patron s
aint. But sometimes, that... let's call it... orientation can really work for you.

Before leaving his last job, the KingofHearts managed to work out a deal with a colleague. She had a hot tub she didn't want. We had no hot tub we didn't
want. Hey, let's trade! Pretty nice, since he'd given notice already and his last day was less than a week after they'd struck up this agreement. I consider it the only severance package he was ever going to get. The company certainly didn't intend it and just might have stopped the transaction out of spite if they'd heard. So anyway, he came home one night and said, while I was half asleep, "Hey, do you want a free jacuzzi tub? Mrs. NiceLady at work is giving one away but if no one wants it she's just going to throw it out."

I, being the pragmatic, think-every-action-through person that I am, raised my head slightly from the pillow and said, "Hmm let me think about it, ummm... YES! Can we get it now? How about now? Now? Am I being too anxious? ....Now?"

So we rented a truck (because for the first time in our marriage, we no longer own one of those things), three strapping young men to help move it (OK - we didn't rent them, but they owed us), and last month they drove out to pick it up from Mrs. NiceLady. When they got it home, they proceeded through a very Keystone Cops-like series of maneuvers - which amused me greatly - to get it from our tiny driveway, past the narrow corridor which constitutes the 'yard' on the side of our house and up the stairs of the backyard deck, taking out almost all my hollyhocks in the process. But who's complaining? I can replant hollyhocks.

Oh, and before it becomes a controversy, because it already did with my neighbor who, when we told her about this, exhibited shock and horror, screaming loud enough for the dead to hear, "A HOT TUB??!!? You can't get in a hot tub... you'll cook that baby!!" I am aware that sitting in high temperature water for extended periods of time is not the most intelligent of things for a pregnant woman to do. Let me just use the explanation that I gave to her: Um... the temperature gauge does have an "off" switch and frankly, I don't know many non-pregnant people who want to bask in 100+ degree water in the middle of August when it's already 100 degrees outside. Rest assured, I'm only in it for the cool water and the bubbles.

The only reason we didn't fill it up that day and move the refrigerator outside on the deck so we would never have to exit the tub to eat was that the thing required a special voltage outlet to plug in. And we had no outlets - even the normal kind - at all on the deck. So we called an electrician, thinking that was probably the fastest/easiest route and figured we'd pay whatever it cost. Even if it was up to five or six hundred dollars, it'd probably be worth it, because hey, free jacuzzi tub! And you can't buy one of those for $600.

What I didn't count on in my Great Outdoor Outlet Search 2007 was that apparently part of being an electrician in this area means you simply don't want work. I called a bakers dozen; no kidding, I seriously made scores of phone calls and actually spoke to thirteen different people who all enthusiastically agreed to come out and give us a quote. Only three bothered to call me back to schedule a time like they promised. One guy came out, looked at the place and said, "I'l
l call you tomorrow with an estimate." Which, of course, did not happen. We called him back three times and each time he put us off saying he hadn't worked the numbers yet and he'd call us back tomorrow. Surprising to me, but not to KoH, he never did. One other guy came to the house, looked the place over and then quoted us $1500 for running a 50 foot line of cord from the circuit box to the deck on the outside of the house which required about an hour of installation time. The third guy gave me an estimate over the phone without even looking at our place: $2500.

"I'm not sure that's the kind of investment we were thinking of making
in this thing," I said.

Conclusion I've reached: Electricians in the Washington Metro area - even ones that advertise they do residential work and there's "no job too small" - must all be using their business as a front for a drug dealing operation, because they simply do not want your money.

So by this time, KoH is working at his new job and making friends there, one of whom is an electrician. This guy was nice enough to give some advice about how to do it, what we needed to get and even offered to come out and help with the hookup. So last week while the Kingo
fHearts' son was out visiting, (I just realized I haven't ever come up with a name on the blog for him - let's just call him the KnaveofHearts) they put in the line. Now... voila... working jacuzzi tub. Between the rental truck, the pizza and a night in the hot tub we owe our three helpers and their wives, the materials to run power out to the backyard deck, and the chemicals for the tub itself, we probably spent about $450.

Not bad.

This may be where I give birth.