Rolls of insulation present a diametrically opposite problem to transporting cement. Insulation takes a considerable volume of space with relatively little weight. At the lumber yard, I found that insulation did not weigh down the truck bed in the same way cement or shingles do. Rather it overflowed the bed. Sixteen rolls of R-13 could not be contained by the four walls of my truck. Even stuffing two rolls into the cab, one between my wife and myself and the other on her lap, was not going to solve the problem.
Any home improvement addict worth a bent nail keeps a roll of rope under the front seat of his pickup truck for just such an eventuality. I crisscrossed the rope over the top and around the sides. With some twists in the rope and a few boy scout knots, I tied it tightly. I was not satisfied until the mound of fiberglass resembled a trussed ham bulging with succulent juices, ready for Christmas dinner.
From the driver's seat of the truck, I could see in only two directions: straight ahead, and to my left. I had to rely on my wife and my door mirror for the other directions. A wall of pink all but blocked my shifting arm and pressed menacingly against the back window.
Fortunately, it was a Sunday morning; traffic was light. I drove slowly to avoid a relative wind upsetting the load. However, there were also a few turns on the route home, and centrifugal forces have a nasty way of upsetting the most carefully trussed bundle of fiberglass. I took the first turn out of the lot at a moderate speed. It was too fast for the fiberglass. The entire load shifted so that it was leaning to the right.
Grumbling to myself, I pulled to the side of the road. I got out of the vehicle to beat and flail until the entire load was back in position. I was successful, but there was some loss of integrity to my system of ropes.
Every turn on the road home became equally alarming and equally troublesome. It seems my trussed ham was not fully baked and was squirming out of its restraints.
I tried to ignore Robin's muffled words emanating from the wall of pink beside me. I thought it was better that I was not directly subjected to her "I told you so's". She had, after all, advocated making two trips. I figured if we were in any danger from her side of the vehicle, she would scream and give me time to react.
It was only a matter of time before one of the rolls got loose. It had the good grace to stay on top of the pile. I watched it closely in the mirror as it swayed threateningly with every jerk of the steering wheel, and bounced with every pothole or bump.
I was thankful to get the entire load home without apparent mishap and only one scream from Robin. "See," I said to my wife as we stacked the rolls in the garage. "I knew we could do it in one trip."
"So you did, but that doesn't mean that something couldn't have happened. I thought that car was going to hit us for sure."
"Didn't you hear me scream?"
"Yes, but I thought you were just asking me to slow down."
"Didn't you hear the car horn?"
"I thought they were trying to be friendly."
"You cut that guy off and nearly got rear-ended. I told you it would be safer to make two trips."
After having broken my heels, I was particularly susceptible to talk about safety. I finally admitted the other car's existence. "Well, he should have known better than to get in my blind spot."
"How could he not get in your blind spot? You were surrounded by blind spots."
"He could have gotten out of the way a little quicker when he saw me switching lanes," I insisted.
Robin was smart enough to let the matter drop. She found a new topic about which to harry me. "How many rolls were we supposed to have?" she asked, bobbing her head as she counted the pile of insulation.
"Don't worry," I reassured her, "I counted them when we were loading."
"Yes, but you told me that we had an even number of rolls."
"Even?" I counted the stack myself. She was right: a roll was missing. I folded my arms and shook my head. Then I counted the rolls again, just to be certain.
"Now what?" she asked, exercising considerable restraint by not saying "I told you so," one more time.
"I'll go back and look for it. The roll must have come loose and rolled off the back when I was swerving to avoid that guy in my blind spot." I climbed back into the truck.
Robin stood in the doorway and waved as I went back on the road. I felt like a shepherd looking for a lost sheep.
I retraced the trip to the lumber yard, scanning the side of the road and hoping that the loose roll had not caused an accident. It was just the kind of thing to spark a law suit.
"What could have happened to that roll of insulation?" I wondered. Had someone seen it on the side of the road and picked it up for their own use? Had it rolled down an embankment where I might never find it? Or had I not even loaded it in the first place? I thought the first explanation most likely. I could imagine some grimy character watching the roll fall off the top of my load, laughing as he rubbed his hands together. Perhaps he pulled to the side of the road and tossed the roll into his trunk. I could see him looking both ways suspiciously to make sure no one was watching. Then he sped off to his hideaway that has been completely constructed from surreptitiously acquired materials.
In the end, the search proved to be futile and I decided to return home. As I turned into the drive, Robin walked out the front door. She was smiling. I knew she had good news. "The lumber yard called and said they have it."
"Did we forget to load it?"
"No, someone saw it fall off the truck on our way home. They figured we had come from there and returned it. I guess they thought we would go back to find it."
On my third trip of the day to the lumber yard, Robin noted that by overloading the truck I had not saved myself any trips. To the contrary, I had made at least one extra trip.
I shrugged. I was just glad to recover my roll of fiberglass. My visions of the grimy insulation abductor disintegrated, and my faith in humanity was restored. A good person had even gone through the trouble of returning the roll to the lumber yard instead of leaving it by the side of the road for anyone to take.
I decided that this good Samaritan should be rewarded. I told Robin, "When a person returns a wallet full of money, it is customary to give him or her a percentage of whatever is in the wallet."
"How much should you give for a roll of insulation?" she wanted to know.
"I would say one batt."
"Sure, there are only eight batts in a roll."
She thought I was being cheap. "How about something they can use, like money?"
I declared that I was generous to give anything. "All right," I mumbled, "TWO batts, but that's final."
Unfortunately, I was unable to exercise my charitable instincts; the person who had returned our insulation had remained anonymous. The salesclerk gleefully told me his story, "The guy who brought this roll back said that you cut him off in traffic. He didn't want to know who you are. I think he was afraid of how you might try to thank him."
I took my roll, and my lumps. It was a humbling experience.