From The Publisher

September 18, 2017 Edition

Geeze, Louise, did you watch any of the city guys bulldoze sand around? There was lots to practice on that after the big storm, and it did look like they were just practicing.

I walked out to the bottleneck on the fourlane just outside of Cabo, where the arroyo whooshed the sand down the hill, clogging up the highway. Back and forth, to and fro, they went all day Saturday and all day Sunday with no appreciable progress: it was still a one lane passageway each way on Sunday night.

I climbed over sand piles and continued on to the road that leads into the RIU, that giant all inclusive resort. The road into the property, about five city blocks long, was completely clogged with sand, but three big bulldozers were already frantically clearing two very wide paths. They were pushing sand up against the sides and scraping the bottom right down to the pavement. I jumped and dodged my way into the resort, looked around, took pictures, interviewed people, and walked on the debris field that was the beach for about three hours. Then I walked back out on the same road to the highway. Wow! It was completely open! There were now two very wide lanes, big enough for buses and ready to evacuate RIU guests.

Then I walked back to town on the fourlane. Where the arroyo crossed the highway I struggled through the piles of sand, and it seemed like they had made no progress clearing it at all. I checked on them over the next two days and they were still pushing the same sand to and fro. (What does that even mean? To and fro? And how can we be sure it was the same sand? Doesn’t all sand look alike?)

Which brings me to my bulldozer story I have prepared for you, my precious readers, for this issue. I begin:

I bought a house in Palm Springs that was built in 1938. It was the first house in the neighborhood and needed a lot of rehab. It also needed a big pond with a waterfall in the backyard. My dream.

I rented a bulldozer called a bobcat. A cute little thing. I went down to the rental yard never dreaming that they were foolish enough to give it to me to drive all by myself. But yes, that was their plan, and after I slapped my credit card down on the counter, they promised to deliver it out to my house the very next day. I didn’t even have to lie about my bulldozer driving experience.

Next day, sure enough, the fools just backed it off the trailer in front of my house and fled. Hey, I can drive an airplane, how hard could a bulldozer be? The difference, of course, is I took airplane driving lessons and got a license, which I neglected to do with this cute little bulldozer.

I fired the sucker up.

There were only a few knobs and things, and I just kind of pulled and pushed until I got the thing into the backyard, narrowly missing the side of my house.

I was taking some stabs at digging a hole for my pond when my friend showed up, I think just to laugh at me. He pushed me out of my new ride, and showed me how he would do it. Wow, what a difference. Yes, I was kinda getting a bit of a hole dug, and I was kinda getting a pile of dirt stacked up, but when Gerry was behind the wheel every scoop of the bucket was full, not half full, and every scoop went into a very tidy pile. I learned from the difference in knowing how to drive a bulldozer and simply moving half scoops of sand from pile to pile. I learned you have to have a plan: a place you’re going to put the scooped dirt, and from which angles at which depth you’re going to attack your project. The RIU guys did just that, our city guys did not.

OK, so, back to my backyard project. I eagerly pushed Gerry out of the bobcat, and took over the controls. He jogged along beside me and told me which levers to pull when. But he didn’t know I didn’t have a plan for the buried cables.

Soon enough, I snagged an electric cable that went to the guest house. Bam! No more electricity in the guest house. Well, OK, what’s done is done, moving right along, back to scooping and being cool and in control in my ‘dozer.

Bam! I snagged the irrigation! Geeze, Louise, who knew that backyard was so busy with shit under the dirt? Now I had white plastic pipes jutting out in every direction! Gerry suggested we halt operations and call in the professionals, but I am not a quitter. I pushed on, now with my mentor lounging out on the back porch drinking beer and no doubt fearing the worst. 

Bam! I snagged a gas line! Gerry recognized the blue color right away, sprang off the porch, and dropped a dime to the gas company. Boy, they came out like a fire truck and they were not amused. They shut off the gas to my house and to the guest house and put an ugly red tag on my meter. That little gas caper ended up costing me $1800 to get a licensed guy to come out and run an entirely new line no less than 18 inches deep, and a “Thank you very much but we don’t need you to dig the ditch for us”.

OK, so what do I have to lose now? I can’t do any more damage, I’ve snagged everything that could possibly be down there. I finished digging my pond, silently, as Gerry watched, silently, no doubt frustrated by my half scoops, as I was also frustrated by my apparent lack of motor skills.

So I know first hand that this earth moving stuff is not as easy as it looks.

But why are our city guys such amateurs? And why can’t we get professional knob pullers like the guys clearing the RIU road? Because the guys clearing our highway are civil servants, that’s why. Bureaucratic civil servants seem to be the same incompetents in every country.

And that’s why you had to slow down to a crawl to sneak through one open lane each way for nearly a week, as our ‘dozer guys pushed to and fro, to and fro.

(What does that even mean?).