In the early 1970s, I worked as a freelance carpenter. At the time, numerous small agencies existed for small jobs - some only requiring a day or even several hours of work. Jobs were immediate and plentiful. Virtually no experience was necessary. Of course, better skills, feedback from clients, and reliability all factored into getting more and better jobs from the agencies.
Those who were ambitious could parlay their experience and get affluent clients, repeat work and even very long assignments with great perks. One friend managed to get a position for months at a time as handyman at the Connecticut country home of a New York City resident. His employment included living at their country home for what essentially amounted to an all-expense-paid summer vacation with added pay. Affluent clients were typically quite generous and appreciative of those willing to do skilled and unskilled labor and indulge their whims and fancies.
There was no screening of clients beyond a job description and the ability to pay. One burly gentleman had me build a loft bed with a staircase. He was particularly impressed with his own physical prowess, and he repeatedly asked me for assurance that the staircase would be wide enough for him to climb and that my construction would support the vigorous sexual activity of a heavy, powerful man and would not collapse. I used extra bolts.
However, I was to learn that when exposed to a populace as large as New York City, clients like the burly man were really nothing extraordinary. To do this kind of work was to enter the homes and personal lives of New Yorkers. Many were unabashed, revealing their habits, lifestyle and needs.
Nothing, however, could prepare me for one assignment so bizarre that it strains credulity. Trust me - this real New York City tale is 100% true and is an adventure I like to call The Book With the Hole In It…
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