My trailer floor is collapsing.
I bought my precious vintage single wide trailer just over 2 years ago, and it wasn’t long after I moved in that I realized the real estate ad should have said:
All maintenance has been 100% deferred!
Absolutely everything is wrong with it!
Spend the foreseeable future fixing expensive and sometimes life threatening problems!”
Life threatening? I must be exaggerating, right?
As soon as I had the electricity turned on, the fuse box blew up, caught fire and burned along the raceway through 8 feet of wall. After the electricians “fixed it” and turned the power back on, thankfully the fuse box didn’t blow up again; this time the bus bar melted which eventually blew all the fuses including the main. Through all my many electrical problems that have put me in the dark, the longest I’ve been without electricity is 9 days. In a row.
So there’s that.
Then there’s this.
Soon after the fire, and by “soon” I mean the next week, the ceiling in the living room, kitchen and dining room collapsed. The 1″ x 2″
chopsticks beams that provide the structure between the roof and the finished interior ceiling came crashing down, taking with them the finished interior ceiling, and it all fell together, in one enormous whump. The place was full of workers and I’m pretty sure one of them caused the collapse but, regardless, it’s God’s grace that nobody was underneath it at the time.
Once the dust settled, the metal roof was exposed, and it had bowed inward forming a huge hollow, like a single-wide sized metal soup bowl. The roof was collapsing under its own weight.
I sprung into action and called roofers, construction companies, handy men, and anybody else I could think of.
The lightning capital of the world is Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, but the part of Florida that I live in is nipping at its heels. Because our weather is so severe, there are a bunch of apps that construction workers use to help them plan their work around the weather.
After I described my situation to one very kind roofer, he told me that thunder storms were predicted to begin around 3:15 that afternoon and I might well be killed if I didn’t leave the trailer before the rain started.
I was so stressed I doubt I would have figured that out but, of course, rain would accumulate in the soup-bowl roof, and, of course, the weight of the accumulating rainwater would cause the walls to collapse, and, of course, when the walls came down there’d be nothing holding the roof up and then, of course, the roof would come down.
Florida is full of trailer parks and I had called a bunch of them asking for contact information for the park handy men, and the handy man from the park right next door to mine actually called me back.
Michael Fernatt, who became my personal hero, took a break from his scheduled job for the day and came over just as the rain began to fall, and he stayed just long enough to hang some cross beams and screw into them toothpick type props that forced the metal roof out of its perfect bowl shape.
That held me over until Mike worked me into his schedule to properly rebuild my ceilings including reinforcing the living room ceiling so it would be strong enough to hold my fabulous Schonbek chandelier which hangs in the center of a gold veined ceiling mirror.
Mike said to me, “you do know you live in a trailer, right?”
I do, Mike, I do.
Then he died of pancreatitis. RIP Mike, you were awesome.
You’re probably wondering why I bought such a dump. Well, the real estate agent that sold it to me was dishonest, and she was in cahoots with a “contractor” who made almost everything worse, and every bit of work he did for me had to be redone. And there was a trend; she’s been accused of embezzlement at the firm she worked at at the time of my transaction. If I were to pursue action against her, it would implicate the sellers who are an adorable, ancient couple who I’ve fallen completely in love with. They were clueless about the condition of their trailer, they never lived in it, it had been empty for years, and they never claimed to know its condition. The agent was the dishonest party, not the sellers. You’ll hear more about “my old people” later.
I totally get the problem with “good money after bad” but I also think it’s possible that, at some point, enough good money will eventually modify the bad to the point that the bad money isn’t bad anymore.
Instead of worrying about what might go wrong next, and instead of focusing backward and seeking restitution, I decided to go another way. I named my vintage single wide my Junkyard Jewelbox and I set my mind to saving it.
About a year-and-a-half ago, Jamey was under my trailer pulling wire between my modem and some of my computers. Since it’s a single wide, while he was in the “crawl under” he could take in the entirety of my trailer’s underbelly landscape, if you will.
As fate would have it, he spotted a plumbing leak.
In the outflow pipe under the double kitchen sinks, Jamey saw a slow drip, drip, drip. He crawled over to it and found that it had been going on long enough that a significant wetland had formed beneath it.
He also noticed the reason my sink drain occasionally ran slow; as the outflow pipe ran under my dressing room which shares a common wall with my kitchen, it angled in the exact wrong direction an outflow pipe should angle; it angled up instead of gently down toward the oblivion that is its connection to the greater sewer pipe system that serves the entire trailer park, and beyond.
Jamey is a genius, and it’s important that I get that right out there, unequivocally and right up front. There really isn’t anything he can’t do, and do well.
His mind is lightning fast, absolutely nothing gets by him, his construction and carpentry skills are excellent, he’s an artist in the truest and fullest sense, and his work and life experience is intensely significant. Plus, he’s an ex-porn star, and they simply don’t put unattractive men with small penises in porn. Well, they do, but it’s a sub-genre, and Jamey’s gorgeous in the main-stream porn kind of way.
He reconfigured the elbow to create the necessary slope in the downhill direction and he replaced the pipe. And just like that, the leak was fixed.
Fast forward to about a month ago.
As I storm delicately float through my trailer, stomping walking softly like the fierce graceful, scary feather float, freakishly strong wispy ballerina-type, gender fluid dom girly girl that I am, I’ve noticed a softness under foot. As I stalk pirouette about, I’ve noticed that the floor seems to give, but just a tiny bit, underneath me. It’s as if the floor is suddenly “sprung” – like a proper dance studio floor. It gives, but just a tiny bit. It bounces, but just a tiny bit. It moves with me, but just a tiny bit.
And somehow, in the teensiest partial wrinkle in the palest of shimmery grey grey matter in the deepest recesses of my brain, and completely unconsciously, I began cross linking disparate data points until I was strong enough in my theory to know what was coming.
And I actually called it.
In late September, I was visiting with my “old people” and something odd happened.
Somehow, I spoke words that didn’t really make any sense at the time . . .
Somehow, completely, unexpectedly and without any logical context triggering them . . .
Somehow, certain peculiar words, strung together in such a particularly strange way and then softly, almost at a whisper, these strange words tumbled haltingly from my wrinkled lips.
“I hope my trailer floor doesn’t collapse.”
Here’s the thing about some old people, and my old people, particularly.
Non sequitur is de riguer.
My comment went completely unnoticed.
Except for by a microscopically microscopic portion of a wrinkle in the pearly palest recesses of my grey matter where 3 cells celebrated with a perverse sense of satisfaction, knowing that the thrill of accurately predicting the future would soon be overwhelmed by an enormous amount of work and expense that would, in the end, suck. And suck large.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Early this summer, while cleaning like the germaphobe I am, I flooded my kitchen counters with a quarter inch of scalding hot bleach water and as I let it sit – you must let it sit for a while in order to kill bacteria, you know that, right? – I noticed my kitchen counter had separated from the wall. Where I used to enjoy scrubbing in the grouted “u” shape that joined the horizontal counter with the vertical wall, now, in that same place, there was a void.
My counter was sagging, hanging, sloping away from the wall that it used to be connected to.
Busy, as we all are, and as I tend to somehow always be, I simply added the recognition of the counter sag to the mental “things of mine that sag and/or hang” database I keep in the brightest shiny pearly part of my grey matter.
My morning ritual of exuberantly pounding empty the grounds basket in my 9 shot espresso maker often creates a Rorschach of droplets of espresso all over the chalk white faces of my kitchen cabinets. Early in September, while I was wiping them down with scalding hot bleach water, I noticed a vertical gap where my corner cabinets meet.
Do you know what happened next? Of course you do.
I added the kitchen cabinets to my mental database of “things of mine that sag and/or hang.”
Then time, as time does, began to warp.
Five days in London, less than a week at home, then a grueling 6-day course in Paris where I didn’t realize a housing host offer didn’t include anything to actually sleep on, so, like the tough girl I am, I (gratefully, happily) slept on a Cadillac conversion for 6 nights. Without sheets. Without a pillow. And for 2 of those nights, with a bath towel as a blanket. And – hello Europe! – even though it’s in the low 40s at night, the heat wouldn’t be on until the day after I flew home.
But I’m durable and resilient and man, am I game, so, in spite of the difficult sleeping situation for most of my nights there, I crushed it in Paris and I flew home in high spirits, feeling invincible, unstoppable, and super charged by my own constantly-compounding ambition and overflowing with unmitigated joy derived from simply being alive.
But while I was gone, a bazillion Jewelbox data points that had accumulated from 45-years-of-deferred-maintenance had cross linked and reached a critical mass of their own.
While I was in Paris, my kitchen floor collapsed.
I’m the Momento of story tellers; To go fully forward, we have to go a tiny bit backward.
Last February, the guys who mow the lawns here at the trailer park hit my trailer with their interstate-median-sized commercial lawn mower. The driver in question was a super nice man who just couldn’t stop apologizing. And that really matters. Especially when hardly anything else does.
Here’s what needs to happen for a super nice man to run an interstate-median-sized commercial mower into your trailer.
And as you may know, sneezing requires – without exception it includes, it most assuredly insists upon, it fucking demands – an eye blink.
To review: he sneezed, and, simultaneous with the sneeze, he blinked.
When he opened his eyes after the blink, he was headed straight for my neighbor’s Frangipani and rather than commit an interstate-median-sized, landscape edition, Director’s Cut of Trailer Park Chainsaw Massacre, he swerved into my screened porch instead.
When he hit me, I was inside my Jewelbox, in a state of blissful flow working at my desk. The force of impact was strong enough to knock a small vial of my dead mother’s hair off the stand of my Thunderbolt.
Instantly, my mind, ever the problem solver, produced this list of possibilities:
- Allegiant jet on approach to nearby PIE crashing into my trailer
- Backyard oak tree crashing into my trailer
- Runaway semi from truck yard on other side of my backyard property line crashing into my trailer
- The Second Coming of Christ and he’s crashing into my trailer
Then I became aware of the sound of the powerful mower motor, which before had been the familiar mow-day constant deafening roar, but now it was chugging and coughing and wheezing to a stop.
And then I knew what had happened: an interstate-median-sized mower had just crashed into my trailer.
My first instinct was to chase down my dead mother’s hair and restore it to its rightful place of honor, so that’s what I did. Then I went into the yard prepared for absolutely anything. And that’s what I got.
My porch was trashed. Vinyl panels were everywhere. Two walls were down.
Trailer Park Chaos had been visited upon me.
It took 4 days for the boss man from the grounds keeping company to even call me back, and it took another few weeks for them to under-the-table fix my porch – of course we’re not going to report this to the insurance company, we’re going to handle this just between us.
What’s the lawn mower incident have to do with the floor collapse?
My floor collapse is centered on the “T” where the trailer wall meets the porch wall that took the greatest mower impact.
I wondered if the floor collapse had something to do with the fact that an interstate-median-sized mower crashed into my trailer.
I had the owner of the lawn maintenance company come out a couple days ago, he ventured into the “crawl under” space, snapped some pictures, came back out and proclaimed that Sneezy crashing his interstate-median-sized mower into my porch didn’t have anything to do with my floor collapsing.
I thought it did.
The reason my floor is collapsing is because the outflow pipe under my kitchen sink – the one Jamey fixed – broke, and, for some unknown length of time, all the water down my sink drains has been directly flowing into what was once a wetland but is now the Gulf of Mexico.
My “crawl under” Gulf of Mexico is a large enough body of water to have formed a tropical biosphere beneath my trailer.
As tropical storms, hurricanes, tornados, and a summer-full of near-daily sub-tropical, Class 1-equivalent storms raged in the real world, I’m certain there have been miniature versions of all of that in my crawl-under Gulf of Mexico biosphere.
Surely, the vapor barrier will protect the subfloor of my Junkyard Jewelbox, right?
It’s not that my vapor barrier is breached. I never had one.
Fortunately, the vast majority of what goes down my sink drains, and I know you saw this coming, is scalding hot bleach water so – great news! – no rodents have moved into my crawl-under Gulf of Mexico diorama.
My subfloor is made of particle board, and, as you know, on the best of days and under the most favorable circumstances, particle board just wants to fall apart but when you install a Gulf of Mexico right underneath particle board, the particle board not only falls apart, it molds and funks itself up into a rank organic slurry of rotting goo. And it expands to about 4″ thick. And then termites come to feast on the untreated joists that my floor system rests on.
And then my kitchen floor collapses.
I’ve spent most of this week getting estimates. Three of the 4 contractors who’ve been out agree that my beams are solid and the floor won’t completely give way but the 4th said “it could go anytime.”