Once upon a time, men like the real-life versions of Jeremiah Johnson took pride in being 100 percent self-sufficient. Need a place to live? Fell some trees, and build a log cabin. Hungry? Kill a grizz. Got a toothache? Grab some pliers, yank out the offending molar, swish some whiskey around in your mouth, swallow it and get on with your day. That’s the way America was built, right?
However, as eras have changed, for better or worse, most of us have come to rely on others when life’s situations present themselves. As for myself, and I’m pretty sure most of you, I’ve assembled a team, a collection of people on whom I’ve come to rely when certain needs pop up that I am either not talented enough or not inclined to address myself. It's a pretty lengthy list.
I have what I call my “go-to” folks that have the expertise to get my stuff done. Now, on any such team, it always helps if you have a handy pal, someone who’ll do a brother a “solid” for no more than a few beers and a little grub. Of course, for me, over the years, that person has been one of my absolute best friends on the planet, Dennis Bauman, known by many in our fair city as Buzzy.
The man has knocked holes in my walls and put in windows, fixed lawnmowers, erected mailboxes (yes, I’m that mechanically inept!) and installed motors in hot tubs, and I am eternally grateful that at least one of my pals with whom I’ve hoisted a glass or three over the years possesses such a vast reservoir of practical knowledge when it comes to, for me, some of the true enigmas in life — ones that involve how machines work, why they stop working and what needs to be done to get everything back on track.
By way of anecdote, I will tell you that I once thought I could actually put a charcoal smoker together. After embarking on reading the directions, something the truly handy rarely need to do since they have a near-preternatural ability to see the final product in their heads, I ran into a road block when there was a reference to one of the tools I would need, what I thought said a 38” wrench.
Grabbing my keys, I covered the short distance between my abode and Buzzy’s in about five minutes and, with perplexed and pleading eyes, thrust the directions into his hands while asking if he possessed such tool. He looked down at the directions, shook his head slowly, looked up and said, “Ah, Grinder, it’s a 3/8 inch wrench, not a 38” wrench! He then sighed and said, “Get in the car. I’ll grab my tool box.”
Now, there are, of course, several others who are on my team who require a bit more compensation than a few cans of Natty Light and some wings, and these folks are vital to me to keep my stuff from hitting the fan as well.
When it comes to all things teeth, it’s Gary Brunk, a natural extension of my first Doctor Brunk, his father Robert, who first started poking around in my pie hole during my elementary-school days. That’s about 55 years of Brunks nosing around in there!
When it comes to doctoring, for the general stuff, that would be my pal, Frank Baldauf, who shares my passion for the New York Yankees and knows more than a little bit about doctoring!
For plumbing, air conditioning and heating issues that I can’t bring myself to lay before Buzzy’s feet, the first call I make is to Dave Pinkerton, who picks up in one ring no matter the hour of day. He’s a guy I trust implicitly with a house key, allowing me not to break stride when it comes to getting out on the road to complete my daily labors while he takes care of the problem back at the homestead.
This month, since it’s that odious time of year called tax season, I’ll be heading to see my Notre Dame-educated CPA, Dan Clifford, at ES Evans, to see what deductions he can uncover and set up my quarterly pounds of flesh I’ll relinquish to Uncle Sam.
And, on the list goes, from my broker to my barber Dan Grothaus, for whom I sadly (see picture) don’t have a very frequent need, to others, one of whom I’ve recently had to replace. Fortunately, I didn’t lose him to the Grim Reaper, rather to retirement. Good for him, not so much for me, since the older I get, the more resistant I become to change.
My “lost” team member is Dr. John Hill, my former eye guy, and not long ago, I saw him in church. I chided him about not consulting me before he sailed on off into retirement. He laughed and told me that I was in very good hands, since I was assigned to one of his former colleagues, Dr. Ann Rea Miller of the Eye Site on West Market.
Welcome, Doctor Miller. I hope you understand the serious undertaking, and I think you do, of joining my team and caring for my eyes. For us writer-types, they really are kind of important!