Sunday, December 23, 2018

"This Crew Gets a Pave Review"

By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
I may not be a Rhodes Scholar, because I always thought it was spelled r-o-a-d-s, but I have been told to hit the road so many times that I know a true roads scholar when I see one. And recently, I saw two.

It happened when a road (of course) crew was repaving the road (ditto) in front of my house to prepare for the long, hard road (stop!) of winter.

“I’m happy to see you,” I told Chris Vecchia, president of Suffolk Asphalt Corp., which was doing the job. “This road has more holes than I have in my head.”

“We can fill the holes in your head when we’re finished with the road, but it may take a lot more asphalt,” said Chris, who’s 34. He thanked me for the neighborly welcome but noted that not everybody is happy to see road crews.

“People complain that their roads are in rough shape, but when we show up to fill in potholes or repave the street, they complain that we are inconveniencing them,” said Chris, adding that the worst offenders are drivers who don’t obey detour signs.

“One time this old lady drove right into a trench we were filling in,” Chris recalled. “We had the whole trench barricaded off and were directing one-way traffic when this Honda Accord went around us and landed in the trench. The car was driven by a woman who had to be in her late 70s. She had a cast on her arm and a leg brace from the knee down.”

“Did she tell you what happened to her?” I asked.

“No, but I’m guessing it was a car accident,” Chris replied. “We asked her why she disobeyed the detour and she said she was on her way to the doctor’s office and this was the only way she knew how to get there.”

“Did you get her car out of the trench?” I inquired.

“Yes, but it took a lot of effort,” said Chris. “The front was about a foot down with the back sticking up. We got the lady out. Then we got a bunch of guys, including Big Sal, and they lifted the car out. She got back in and drove off without even saying thank you.”

“You must have been pretty steamed,” I said.

But not as much as Chris’ esteemed colleague, Donna Bubla, also known as Mama Donna, who operates a steamroller.

“There aren’t many women in this job,” said Donna, who’s 59 and has been doing it for 30 years. “But it’s fun.”

And crazy.

“We were repaving a road when this woman came out of her house and said she didn’t want us to do it, so she sat down in the street,” Donna recalled.

“What did you do?” I asked.

“We went around her,” said Donna.

“Good thing,” I noted. “Otherwise, you would have left her flat.”

“Another time,” Donna related, “a guy who was going through a bitter divorce had this ugly pewter statue that his wife was supposed to get. He asked me to run it over. I couldn’t do it, but somebody else did. We gave him the pieces. I’m sure his wife was thrilled.”

I was thrilled with the great job that Chris, Donna and the rest of the crew did.

“Now that you see what we do, you really are a roads scholar,” said Chris, adding that they’d be back to do other streets in the neighborhood. “We’ll bring extra asphalt for the holes in your head,” he promised. “Looks like it’ll be a big job.”

Copyright 2018 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, December 9, 2018

"The Zezimas' 2018 Christmas Letter"

By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
Since I am in the holiday spirit (and, having just consumed a mug of hot toddy, a glass of eggnog and a nip of cheer, the holiday spirits are in me), I have decided to follow in that great tradition of boring everyone silly by writing a Christmas letter.

That is why I am pleased as punch (which I also drank) to present the following chronicle of the Zezima family, which includes Jerry, the patriarch; Sue, the matriarch; Katie and Lauren, the daughtersiarch; Dave and Guillaume, the sons-in-lawiarch; and Chloe, Lilly and Xavier, the grandchildreniarch.

Dear friends:

It sure has been an exciting 2018 for the Zezimas!

The year got off to a colorful start when Jerry got a pedicure and had his toenails painted bright red. Sue, a pedicure veteran, was both impressed and jealous. Fortunately, it was winter, so Jerry didn’t wear flip-flops and subject everyone else to the shocking sight of his glossy hoofs.

The fun continued when Jerry went to a brewery to make beer (it went down smooth and didn’t come back up the same way) and then went to a winery to take a paint and sip class (he festooned a wineglass with a portrait of himself, which drove his classmates to drink).

Jerry went back to the winery with Sue for a Wine 101 class. Jerry graduated with flying colors (red and white) despite telling the instructor that he wanted to “make America grape again.”

Jerry got a new cellphone (his old one was the Stegosaurus 4) and needed Chloe, who had just turned 5, to show him how to program it. Aside from telemarketers, she’s the only person who wants to talk with him.

Speaking of grandkids, Chloe’s little sister, Lilly, turned 2 and their cousin, Xavier, turned 1.

Sue and Jerry went to Washington, D.C., to see Katie and Dave and take Xavier to the Smithsonian. At the entrance, Jerry opened Xavier’s diaper bag and told the security guard, “At my age, it comes in handy.” She let him in anyway.

Lauren and Guillaume brought Chloe and Lilly to Sue and Jerry’s house when Katie and Dave visited so they could play with Xavier. The children had a blast, splashing in the kiddie pool, coloring the patio furniture with chalk and proving to be more mature than Jerry.

Jerry took Chloe to Dunkin’ Donuts so she could help make doughnuts, including her favorite, strawberry frosted with rainbow sprinkles. It was a sweet time.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Chloe lost her first tooth and was visited by the Tooth Fairy, who left her more money than Jerry typically has in his wallet.

Jerry could have used the money because he bought a new car. At Chloe’s request, it’s blue. She also wanted the car to have pink polka dots, which means Jerry has to buy a paintball gun.

Jerry published his fourth book, “Nini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures: Grandkids, Wine Clubs, and Other Ways to Keep Having Fun.” Like his first three books, it’s a crime against literature. It also comes in handy for propping up wobbly table legs. If you suffer from insomnia, you might even want to read it.

The highlight of 2018 was Sue and Jerry’s 40th anniversary. They took the week off and celebrated in grand style: Jerry had his teeth cleaned and Sue had a root canal. It doesn’t get more romantic than that!

We hope you and your family had a great year, too.

Merry Christmas with love and laughter from the Zezimas.

Copyright 2018 by Jerry Zezima