At this stage in my life you'd think I'd have learned to watch what I say. After all, you never know when it might come back and bite you!
Earlier in the year my brother-in-law erected a temporary car shelter at his house only to have it become a giant kite with the first strong windstorm. Indulging in Schadenfreude, I snickered at his misfortune.
"Surely, any fool could have made it secure," I said.
A few months later, we bought a second car and decided the old car would make a good starter for our children when they turned 16. With this still a couple of years away, we needed to protect the car from the elements. A temporary shelter was perfect for this purpose.
This was my first taste of humble pie.
The shelter came in a box containing several hollow metal tubes and a large plasticized covering. Instructions promised a few hours of my life would be enough to get the thing completed. Obviously the manufacturer had not used someone like me as their benchmark!
After two days only the skeleton was in place. The cover took another few hours of struggling before I could move on to the final stage which required tying it all down. Included in the kit were giant metal corkscrew-like pieces for this purpose. These were roughly fashioned with nasty sharp bits sticking out like coral from eyeholes into which I was meant to insert a metal bar for twisting the corkscrew into the ground. It was intended for earth not rock.
Guess what the shelter stood upon?
Within seconds I received my first nick. Commonsense told me to stop, but I continued. Several minutes passed before I finally gave up, sneaking inside to wash blood off my hands before Lydia saw the injuries and pestered me to get a tetanus shot. (When it comes to needles, I'm a coward.)
The wounds taken care of, I went back outside and deciding instead to weigh the shelter down with the help of patio stones.
A few days later the winds began to blow!
For awhile it looked like there wouldn't be a problem. It wasn't until I saw the entire shelter rise a few inches off the ground that I hurried outside. The patio stones had all shifted during one of the gusts and were now quite useless. Another big puff and the whole thing would do an impersonation of Dorothy's farmhouse. I ran into the shelter, grabbed a supporting bar, and tried to figure out what to do.
As I stood there, feeling the structure heave, I offered a silent apology to my brother-in-law. His shelter may have gone end over end, but at least he hadn't been reduced to standing like a fool waiting to be whisked off to Oz!
In the end I solved the problem by tying the shelter's corners down to the car's roof-rack in an intricate spiderweb design. It wasn't pretty, but did the trick. A temporary solution for a temporary shelter. As I went back inside I made a vow to be less smug in the future.
Kevin Toal is Freelance writer who hopes this summer is not an overly active hurricane season.