Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I have a friend who is always telling me that if it weren't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all. But lately (and I'm afraid to actually write the words because I may end up cursing myself) I actually have been having a streak of good luck.

Good luck is so foreign to me, I have a row of black-and-blue marks on my arm where I've been pinching myself to make sure I'm awake.

It all began when I wrote a column about how I'd used duct tape to cover the cracks in the basement of our new house to prevent water from coming in. Shortly after the article appeared, I received an e-mail from Chris Brown of Rescon Basement Solutions in Londonderry.

Basically, my temporary cure for my leaky basement caused the poor man to hyperventilate.

"Sally, Sally, Sally!" he wrote. "Stopping water infiltration in concrete structures is a specialized industry that requires a very specific set of knowledge and experience. I can't read another article about sticking duct tape over a crack…really! I want to help, I need to help, please let me help!"

I've lived long enough to know that anyone who is labeled an "expert" or "professional" in any field doesn't come cheap. In order to reap the benefits of his expertise, I figured I'd probably have to sell a kidney.

I wrote back, thanked him for writing, and told him I was sorry, but I was so broke, I didn't have two nickels to rub together to make a dime, so all I could afford was the duct tape.

He answered with, "Not a problem. We'll do it for free." Then, probably reading my mind, he added, "This is not a joke."

I just stared at the e-mail, not knowing if I should laugh or cry. I bolted down the hallway to tell my husband the news.

"My dad always said there's no such thing as a free lunch," he said. "There has to be a catch."

"Like what?" I asked.

"Like maybe the sealant is free, but we'll have to pay for the labor. Or maybe they'll patch half of each crack and then hold out for the last half."

I thought it highly unlikely that anyone would hold foundation cracks hostage, so I wrote back to Chris and arranged for a time for him to come over.

Chris arrived with an advertising mug filled with Hershey's kisses. In my opinion, any man who came bearing chocolate had to be a saint.

He made a thorough check of the "Basement from Hell" and said he could fill the cracks…except for the biggie in the corner. That one was a bad crack, a potentially destructive crack, he said, and it was beyond his capabilities. It would need the expertise of a professional engineer

Just the word "engineer" made me not only contemplate selling my own kidney, but also one of my husband's.

"I'll have my office call you to set up an appointment to have the cracks repaired," he said. He gave me his business card. I couldn't help but smile at his phone number: 877-WHY-B-WET.

"He won't be back," my husband said, shaking his head after Chris drove away. "Our basement is such a mess, he's probably got the gas pedal floored right now, breaking speed records just to get away from here."

But bright and early on St. Patrick's Day, Chris's men showed up to patch the cracks in the basement.

I thought it would be a simple project, that they'd mix up a batch of Redi-Mix, slap it over the cracks and be done in an hour.

I couldn't have been more wrong. I wasn't down there observing because I didn't want to be in their way, but from upstairs I could hear drilling, hammering, pounding, some kind of compressor running, and assorted other sounds I couldn't identify.

Two-and-a-half hours later they showed me their handiwork – beautifully sealed cracks. They truly were works of art.

"How much would this job have cost me if I had to pay for it?" I dared to ask.

"About $850," one of the guys answered. "And believe me, we have the lowest rates around."

"And if I get an engineer to fix that King Kong of a crack in the corner?" I also dared to ask. "How much might that cost me?"

"Probably around $40,000," he said.

Forget about selling a kidney, I nearly needed a heart transplant.

So, as I said, my luck is changing. I thought that getting $850 worth of free crack repair was the epitome of luckiness, but little did I know that on that very same day, something even luckier was about to happen to me.

I'll tell you all about it next time.