My World – as Seen Through a Dark Lens

Everything has been going wrong around the Graham homestead, and I’m not talking about the U.S. midterm elections, which were a really bad blow. I mean little things – a myriad little things. I think of it as being infested with imps. Oh for a good old Jamaican obeah man…

The phones were down (that’s usually what happens when it rains around here), which meant the computer was kaput, which meant… I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what that means in the Year of the Lord two thousand and ten.

So naturally, the imps decided that was the right time to mess with the lock on the den door. Suddenly, neither Sandra nor I could get our keys in the lock.

I called Verizon on my cell phone …. and called and called and called. If you have Verizon, you know what it’s like. Trying to talk to a machine that can’t understand the word “Yes” (especially with a Jamaican accent?), finally persuading the machine to switch you over to a live person, then listening to faint elevator music until the music stops, the line goes dead, and you hang up. And, if you’re a bulldog like me, you try again. And again…

Oh, I forgot about the messages telling you to solve your problem by visiting Obviously, some multimillionaire  CEO can’t figure out that if your computer is down… duh!

I guess the race is not to the swift, after all.

Anyway, I finally got Verizon to schedule a repair date – which they tried to set for November 11 but changed to Saturday after I convinced them that the world would come to an end before then.

And, after some persistent investigative-reporter sleuthing, I found a locksmith (this is Lakeland, Florida, remember?).

He showed up first thing Saturday morning with his 14-year-old son in tow, and proceeded to replace the guts in all the door locks. And he said it wasn’t imps that messed with the den door, that it was my fault: I had installed the lock upside down and “the springs had sagged” over the years, blocking the hole you stick the key in.

Hah! He must have been talking to Sandra. She always has some theory about why everything is my fault. But I know it was imps.

So why am I telling you my troubles?

The locksmith’s visit proved rather educational. And, no, I am not talking about the fact that a 14-year-old kid could replace a broken lock in minutes when I couldn’t unscrew the door knob (even with my power drill).

I’m talking about the fact that the locksmith is building a 4,000-square-foot home with a pool in these hard times.

You know the Jamaican saying that one man’s downfall is another man’s uprising? This guy is making a mint changing door locks on homes that have been foreclosed on. He reports that he and his four sons are busy 24/7 responding to the demand.

He allowed as how he sometimes felt kind of bad about kicking these folks out of their homes, even though it was usually their own damn fault, what with their brand new cars and all… He was especially queasy about some people who are obviously “retarded” … And there was the old guy with terminal cancer who had just two months left to live…

But, while his tales were interesting enough, illustrative as they were of the human condition, that wasn’t what got my attention.

I was beset by the nagging thought that if all these homes were being foreclosed on, the housing market around here was taking another beating, and I was watching the equity in my home evaporate as he talked.

And, on top of all that, Sandra has the flu.