Monday, April 20, 2009

Notes From the Chimney Sweep

The song doesn't say, does it? But in case you have ever wondered what happened to that crazed Mississippi squirrel that brought on the revival in that sleepy little town of Pascagoula, wonder no more. I think I may have cleared up that little mystery.

Spring is often a busy season for a chimney sweep, but not for the reasons one might expect. Gone are the winter requests to cure a smoking fireplace or to inspect or rebuild a chimney after a fire, and we get a few calls from those organized souls who want to get a jump on next fall’s heating season by cleaning their chimneys ahead of time, but a lot of our spring calls come from people who have discovered animals and/or their nests in the chimney: usually an assortment of birds or squirrels, less frequently a raccoon, or perhaps a possum. At least on one occasion, we were called by a homeowner whose house was suddenly infested with flies; and then there was the time this chimney sweep was called upon to ascertain that the stench in one house was caused, not by a dead animal in the chimney as surmised by the owner, but by a package of fish rotting on the coffee table in the living room. Really. The chimney sweep seems to be the go-to guy when people just don’t know where to go, and, as I say, spring ends up being fairly busy.

So when the phone rang a few days ago I wasn’t entirely surprised to hear, “I saw you on the computer. I know you get birds and things out of chimneys, but I have something much worse than a bird!” followed by a tale of woe, poured out, if you can imagine, in a frantic voice with a serious Southern d-r-a-w-l.

This poor young woman’s house reeked so badly with the odor of something dead and decaying that they could barely stand to stay in it, and after looking everywhere they could possibly think of to look, they concluded that a squirrel had died in the chimney, a not at all unheard-of event in the world of chimneys and fireplaces. She had called to see if we, or anyone we knew, could take care of such a problem for her, going on to tell me that she had called the “wildlife people” who had someone that took care of such things, but, alas, they were unable to locate him.

Even in her misery, she was so very polite, as Southern belles are wont to be, and I found myself wanting to help her. Almost. Such a job is always distasteful, to say the least. I started to ask where she was located, but before I could get the question out, she asked me if the job could be done for free… That made me laugh and I told her that there would certainly be a charge. If anyone could be found to do it.

And then, “Are you in Alabama?” Alabama? Uh…no. She explained that our area code was only one number off from an area code that she knew of in Alabama, so she thought maybe we were there, close enough to come to her rescue in…. Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Relief! I no longer felt bad for not figuring out how to help her. Being in central Texas ~ the part she missed when she found us on the computer ~ I couldn’t if I wanted to. So, I wished her well, expressing hope that she would find someone to take care of that for her. And in that lovely, lively, eager Southern voice she assured me, “Oh, I will! Even if I have to pay them!”


Well, in any event…one Squirrel of Mississippi Revival fame: Found! And now you know...the rest of the story.


grammaw marina said...

I know just how you felt! That call could have been made from around here in N. GA! After much experience with requests for free or ridiculously reduced labor, here is how we respond: Of Course we can come help you - we'll trade it out! When can you come over and clean behind my fridge and toilets?

Civilla said...

That's funny.

I once had a stinking experience. I had loaned a friend some cassette tapes. She returned them in a small paper sack. I stuck them on top of my tv set, still in the paper sack. A couple of months later, I noticed this horrible smell coming from the area around the tv set. I finally narrowed it down to the little paper sack with the cassettes in it. I opened it up, and there was a mouldy piece of birthday cake sitting on top of the cassettes! I said to my friend, "Why didn't you tell me there was cake in the?" She said, "Oh, I just wanted to surprise you with a little thank you gift for loaning the tapes to me!"

Now, I open everything.

Marytoo said...

HEHEHEEE... Well, at least it wasn't FISH!