'This Old Crack House' #32: Let the credit card advances begin....

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Blog entry by Dusty posted 04-15-2007 02:07 PM 2459 reads 0 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 31: "Houston we have a problem..." Part 32 of 'This Old Crack House' series Part 33: Any one can be a plumber... I thought »

Obviously, all the plumbing had to be replaced. I had not planed to do this nor budgeted for it. This was a major setback for us. I had a strict budget to follow and not wiggle room for unexpected costs.

The plan was to use credit cards and advances from my line of credit to fund the cost of remodeling. The first order of business was to call the credit card company and get a credit card advance. When I do this I feel like such an idiot. The mere idea of it; to think that I have to beg, borrow and plead, to have the privilege of repaying the money at such high rates, borders on loan sharking.

I absolutely hate it. There is something fundamentally wrong with it; but what is one to do? I either had to do it or go without.

As I made the call, I joked to myself, “Don’t forget to smile while they are doing it to you and don’t expect to get even a kiss”.

The next step after the phone call to the “loan sharks”, was to call my old buddy David.

If you recall, he was the guy that I met while driving my bus, the master plumber and electrician who had had a stroke and couldn’t do much anymore but supervise. He is the one who helped me with Ms. D’s house.

I needed his expertise because I knew I had to replace at least every inch of plumbing in the basement.

As it turned out, I was wrong; it turned out to be the whole house.

Another one of those, “Oh man, what can happen next and how much will this cost?” moments.

I think there is a direct relationship between my experience and the Master Card “Priceless” advertising campaign. The trouble is, they aren’t priceless. For me it seems they always are “Expensive Moments”. The price is never less, but more.

I called David and he agrees to come over on Tuesday afternoon after he finished his work. He told me that he would still be on call and that he might be called back to work. I explained that it wouldn’t be a problem and that I would work around that. I was just grateful he agreed to come over.

I had my work cut out for me because I had to have all the cement broken up, the contaminated sand removed and old plumbing exposed in less than two days. I also had to place all the material in 5 gallon pails and carry it up the steps to the dumpster outside the door.

I discovered another moment; I named it the “Advil” moment.

I hurt in places that I never felt before.

One bucket at a time, I removed everything.

I was now convinced the city was right, it should have been bulldozed down.

And for this privilege I paid almost one hundred and fifty grand?

“How stupid was I?” I questioned.

Luckily, I didn’t answer myself. I had a good idea already.

David showed up and we got right to work. I did all the bull-work; he supervised. He made drawings and did a list of materials. We made a trip to the big box home center about a mile from the house. Just for the plumbing pipe and the parts needing replacement, this trip cost $1200.00.

And I hadn’t pent a dime yet for fixtures. Ouch!

It was a feeling I would come to know only too well.

On the way home, David received an emergency service-call. He had to go.

He told me what to do next and that he would be back tomorrow.

I unloaded the truck. His wife picked him up to take him to work as he couldn’t drive due to his stroke. As they pulled away, I waved goodbye and said, “See you tomorrow.”

I never saw him again.

Later that day, his wife called me and said that he had gone to the service-call. There was an unknown problem in the swimming pool area at the college where he worked. He opened the door and was hit with a cloud of ammonia gas and Freon. He fell to the floor and was taken to the hospital.

He is in a coma.

Oh my god, I thought. I started shaking and sat down and cried.

What next I thought?

I would find out soon enough.

copy write all rights reserved D.Jerzak 04-014-07

-- Dusty

24 comments so far

View Diane's profile


546 posts in 4120 days

#1 posted 04-15-2007 02:31 PM

So Sorry to hear you never saw your friend again.

I’m glad I know ahead of time that this story has some happy endings. If you knew what you know now would you do anything differently?


View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4311 days

#2 posted 04-15-2007 02:39 PM

That is a scarry thing, just opened a door. An Advil moment I understand.

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4084 days

#3 posted 04-15-2007 02:54 PM

I understand the One Life to Live is looking for new writers.
Now, with the advent of medical problems it might open up General Hospital, too.
Maybe that could fund your project. :>)

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4153 days

#4 posted 04-15-2007 03:25 PM


Quote “If you knew what you know now would you do anything differently”?

I’m not sure I can really answer that.

What I mean by that is sure there are things I would do differently. Being the benefactor of hind site and being an excellent Monday morn quarterback that goes with out saying.

Certainly there are things that I would change or do differently.

That goes with the lessons learned part of life.

I learned long ago that regrets are a waste of time and a good place to dwell in self pity.

Been there did that. Never again.

As hockey as it sounds I am not sure I could of changed much. This had been a journey if you will, just indulge me for a moment, with the following reflections I have.

It has been a trip that at times I have been merely a passenger. Some times I drove, sometimes I simply rode.

One thing I am learning and would have done differently had I known what I know now, is to enjoy the trip or journey more.

I have found that reaching the destination maybe is a goal, but it also can be a real let down.

It was anticlimactic.

It’s hard to explain but you finish something and step back and say “wow how nice”, and that is it.

Its over.

Then you move on to the next project.

I try now to savor as many moments as I can. I try too stop and take in more of the scenery on the trip.

I laugh a whole lot more these days, at both myself and my surroundings. I don’t take things so seriously.

After all we are all born terminal right?

We just don’t know when our number will be called.

I am not willing to stand around waiting for mine to be called.

I remember taking a trip once with a buddy and flying out to Las Vegas. He flew a lot and I hadn’t. I was a little nervous. He said “flying is safe”, besides when your number is up that’s it it’s up time to go”

I said “yea but what if the damn pilot’s number is up before mine”?

He never answered.

Its just one of life’s fragile mysteries.

It is what it is.


I still cry these days. Just a whole lot less.

That is called living. To experience a wide range of emotions and experiences.

Clouds and rain lead to beautiful flowers.

The short answer to your question is.


With out hesitation, but this time I would be much better prepared and equipped.

All aboard!

-- Dusty

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4153 days

#5 posted 04-15-2007 03:27 PM


Life is sure fragile isn’t it!


You sure brighten my day with your comments and sense of humor.

-- Dusty

View Obi's profile


2213 posts in 4234 days

#6 posted 04-15-2007 05:24 PM

never again, huh? That was certainly unexpected. And here I was starting to think it was a sitcom, only to find that in real life there are some things that happen suddenly that only the Almighty has control over.

Write On!

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4157 days

#7 posted 04-15-2007 06:37 PM

looking at my own personal life, would I change a thing? No – it has made me who I am today. Would I want to re-live my past? Never in a million years. Done it once, thanks!
But the journey IS about the learning, the growth, the overcoming of challenges, the twists and turns, the highs and the lows. .. we take what we get and we turn it into lemonade and drink it with a smile.

Your comment about being anti-climatic was really exemplified in my creation of the Challenge Table. The high was momentary, as the “way to go” comments were immediately followed with a “what’s next?” question. The elation was brief and then it was time to move on to the next.
It can also be compared to a wedding—months and months of planning and doing, and then the day arrives, everyone goes home and it is over. No more planning for the wedding… now what? Many couples really sink into a type of depression after this because the “rush” is gone.

And so, Dusty, I understand your comments and am proud of how you have handled it all!!
Well done
(and keep writing)

(oh.. and sorry to hear about Dave…

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4397 days

#8 posted 04-15-2007 08:34 PM

Dusty: “Thanks for the memories.” We enjoy, not your pain, not your suffering, but, your joy that comes through that pain and suffering. You are showing us an inner strength that make you what you are. You can say, “I won’t do that again.” but something will come up and the memories of what you went through will assist you in making the current decision.

We love you, even though we have never been in your presence, But you have allowed us to be inside your mind and your heart.

Thanks Man. We appreciate the privilege that you have given us.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4089 days

#9 posted 04-15-2007 08:57 PM

Dusty, I hate to sound pragmatic about this but you are dealing with some pretty heavy-duty issues so… did you ever do an analysis of what price range you can expect to get for this house once you sell it? Comparatives, etc? It’s one of the first things I would have done and maybe you mentioned it in an earlier blog and I missed it.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4157 days

#10 posted 04-15-2007 08:58 PM

Chip, he did mention that he’d purchased/fixed-up/sold other houses in the neighbourhood (unless I’m making that up.. but i think that I read that somewhere)..

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4089 days

#11 posted 04-15-2007 09:18 PM

Ahhh, I do remember that now Deb… thanks.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4174 days

#12 posted 04-16-2007 12:24 AM

This is arguably the most fascinating blog series I’ve ever read.

Dusty – you have a good heart; you have handled life’s vicissitudes with aplomb. But more importantly, you have learned positive lessons that have built your character and strengthened your humanity.

You are not a product of this ‘hot-house’ generation but a person who has risked the storms and stood out in the cold – and you are the person you are as a result of all this.

It’s trite to say this, but God does work in strange ways in our lives – my personal prayer is that, like you have, I learn to extract the good from the apparent bad that comes my way.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View Greg3G's profile


815 posts in 4082 days

#13 posted 04-16-2007 06:19 AM

Dusty, as one who has been though God’s smelting process (a few times now.) I know that the most valuable life lessons are learned through the process. We learn that that God will never give us more than we can handle, but more than we think we can. I have lost a lot of friends, too many funerals. I still cry when they play taps and that’s ok. I am a better man now than I was 20, 10 and even 5 years ago. With every challenge put in my path, I endure, I grow and I learn and I try really hard not to make the same mistake twice. I am honored to be allowed to read your story and see how you handle the obsticles on your journey.

-- Greg - Charles Town, WV

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4153 days

#14 posted 04-17-2007 12:30 AM


Thank you for the heart felt responses. They speak for them selves, I couldn’t possible add anything to them so I won’t.

I will say Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

-- Dusty

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4153 days

#15 posted 04-17-2007 01:18 AM


To answer you question, yes I did comparable’s for the neighborhood. I also had bought and sold other properties in the neighborhood. The median price range at that time was 145,000.00 dollars.

At that price you didn’t get much, trust me.

For this area and it being so close to the core of Minneapolis that has always been considered “affordable” and more or less a starter home. Affordable housing has been and continues to be a major challenge for Minneapolis and St. Paul.

I if you recall, I negotiated a price 10 grand lower that asking because of the condition of the house. I knew that wouldn’t come close to covering all that needed repair, and replacement.

The reason I was willing to pay what I did was two fold. One I was so ready to have the problems across the street go away and knew if I didn’t do something soon my investment that I had made in our neighborhood and current home would more than likely yield a price much lower than what it really is worth.

Secondly, we had the attached vacant lot which the option of spinning it off and selling it was possible. This option alone was worth over 30 grand conservatively.

At the time a new development had sold out only a few blocks away and another large one had just started to be built with the prices starting in the low 300 thousand dollar range.

If you were wondering if I was, or am in danger of having a home of that we have spent more buying, and remodeling than I could reasonable expect to recover my investment from, the answer to this question would likely be yes.

We knew that would likely be the case when we chose to take this project on. That said and in all fairness I have had several sound offers for the property that would allow me to recover my investment.

That really isn’t an option at this point. I joke that the next move for me will be in a pine box that one of my woodworking buddy’s has made.

I don’t think I could sell this house after all the work that has gone in this house.
To me it would be like selling a priceless artifact. I doubt I could ever find something like this again.

As I write the rest of “This Old Crack House” I think it will become clearer. Remember this is a two stage process. First the rehab of the existing house, followed by the new 1200 square foot addition we build a year later.

With out giving too much away I would ask you to stay tuned, I think you will find it interesting.

-- Dusty

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