Summer projects and daydreaming | Mark’s Remarks

When you have a chance to be at home more than usual, you begin to notice little things that need to be done. Then, often you stumble upon larger things that need to be done.  And sometimes when you do the little things, you realize the new little things make the big things look shabby. Well, you know what I mean. It’s a vicious cycle.

You decide to add some new paint to a room. You move everything out. You paint. You clean up your mess and marvel at how fresh and new it all looks. Then you move things back in.

You realize some of the furniture looks a little worn. The carpet needs to be cleaned.  The pictures you hung on the wall don’t look too great anymore.  So you are tempted to just redo the whole thing. However, money is tight. Time is not available.

Although I have fussed and fussed about reality TV, I must admit that we have watched quite a bit of it this summer already. One of our favorite shows is “Undercover Boss.”  You don’t have to watch too long before you figure out some parts are scripted. I mean, the incognito boss always runs into a few employees who are either very good at what they do or not so good. There’s always an employee or two who is going above and beyond the call of duty, yet suffers in some way outside the workplace. Just watch and see what I mean.

At the end of the show, the boss takes off his or her disguise and meets with each of the featured employees. The boss then proceeds to give these employees all kinds of perks: vacations, college tuition for children, money to fix up houses, etc.

I can’t help but daydream a little when I watch that show. It actually reminds me of when my brother and I used to watch KPLR television when we were young. We’d see that commercial they used to show where kids could win a free shopping spree at a big toy store. We would sit there and be lost for a period of time in our dreams.  We’d plan what train sets, race tracks and other big ticket items we’d snag. It was fun to daydream.

So, I find myself doing the same thing some 40 years later.  My undercover boss comes clean and takes off his disguise.  He has already heard my sob story about a poor school teacher with four kids who needs to do all kinds of repairs on his house. He hands over a cash package, complete with workmen coming to house to give it a makeover. On top of it all, he sends the family on a two-week vacation. Oh yes, and he puts some money in a fund for each kid to go to college. My boss is generous and sympathetic, you see.

Then there are those “house crasher” shows in which a guy comes up to you in the home improvement aisle and offers to follow you home and take over your renovation. I’ve watched all those shows. There is one for the entire house and then there are those for bathrooms and kitchens. I’m hoping all three shows are in town at the same time, just happening to hang out at Home Depot.

Here I go again. There I am, pushing the baby in the cart while another one of the kids tags along. We are looking for spray paint or something.  All of a sudden, I see the hosts from those design shows down the aisle. I watch as they approach customers. Some of the customers brush them off. Some of them stop and talk for awhile.

With no time to lose, I grab the tag-along child and throw them in the cart with the baby. I get into a sprinting position and charge full speed toward the hosts. It just so happens they are standing in the kitchen department. I pretend to be looking at expensive counter tops and then begin to talk out loud to the kids.

“What do you think of this counter top for our new kitchen?”

The DIY hosts hear me talking. The cameraman comes over. I begin to talk about how our house is falling down and tell them I am a poor school teacher with four kids. I tell them of the state of education in Illinois and how I’ve devoted my life to helping children. I talk about how most people who have worked as long as I are able to afford much more than I am. On and on goes the sob story. I’m getting better and better at it in these dreams.

The three hosts then tell me they will be following me home. They will pick up the guy from “Yard Crashers” for good measure.  The entire house will be re-done, including the yard. Because the new garage has unusual dimensions, HGTV will spring for two new automobiles. Oh, and while they are working, they will send the family on a two-week vacation.  A limo will take us to the airport because the new cars haven’t arrived yet.

Now, HGTV never does the vacation thing, I know. But heck, it’s my dream, isn’t it?

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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