Sixty-Four Cents

by Tom Swift

It is one of the best things I have done.

It worked out better than I hoped.

It looks nicer than I thought.

It was, in other words, money well spent. (And I am a stingy dude.)

I speak, of course, of the carpet I put down last month in my otherwise unfinished basement.

Since I first saw my current home, I imagined I would add some sort of floor in the basement so as to make use of an approximately 10-by-25-foot area unoccupied by anything other than a storage shelf. I figured rubber tiling; I imagined the sort of floor you might see at a gym; I saw a video online of how such floors could look; the space could be a great place to get a quick workout in; it was going to be glorious.

Yet the budget … not so much.

This is either a positive attribute or sheer laziness, I’m not sure, but I am pretty good at adjusting to circumstances — with just dealing with what is rather than changing what is when changing what is would mean spending money I don’t have and/or buying something I don’t really want (especially if it means replacing something I do want). Case in point: While cleaning my computer keyboard I dripped liquid into the key crevices and so the 1-2-3-4-etc. at the top no longer works. And they don’t make my preferred keyboard anymore. So I get used to using the numerals on the side pad instead. Let’s keep writing. I have been, then, using a broken keyboard for about six months now. I know: it barely shows!

As the air cooled this fall, I began to have more urgency about the floor, though. Not only for my ability to exercise without taking the car out on snow days, but, more importantly and more pressingly, because the older the little buddy gets the more the winters affect him (makes two of us). Memories of the Polar Vortex, circa February 2019, flashed through my mind. Yep: We needed a warm place to play.

I went back to the rubber floor idea. They do have some cheaper options than those of my dreams. I talked to my handyman and he suggested carpet instead. The dog might not do well on the rubber, he said, as he might get claws stuck in the crevices. Besides, many carpet stores sell remnants. Now he was speaking my language; I could just get something cheap to tide us over. I also went to the RE Store, which always has slices of carpet for sale.

So in my mind I went from beautiful boutique gym floor to duct-taped shards of ratty carpet that would make the space salvageable as a venue for rubber ball toss-and-fetch. OK.

As with many solutions, though, the answer was found in the middle of those extremes. When I couldn’t find a remnant of good value and the right size, I went to Menard’s. Going to Menard’s is not my favorite maneuver; I seldom seem to get good customer service and frequently feel lost in aisles that are bigger than my block. This time my preconception was all wrong. A flooring staffer named Steve Martin — no, he was not a wild and crazy guy, not at all — was terrific. He agreed rubber was not the way to go and for the same reason. (How far we have come with awareness about our companion animals!) Steve showed me some cheap new carpet with the pad already attached. Turns out, he only had Tuscany Gray. Which is perfect because my basement is, even if it doesn’t hearken Tuscany, is at least well-suited for shades of gray. (You can’t make up a metaphor like that!)

I called a few days later to prepay. Turns out, they were, as of that very morning, having a sale. The 75-cent Tuscany Gray was now another 11 cents off per square foot. More than the money it seemed the universe was telling me I was moving in the right direction.

It is beautiful when, after trying out various ideas and options, things then fall into place. Life, it seems, is about figuring things out and it is about allowing the right answers to present themselves. You must attempt and you must allow. Both.

in any event …

… I stayed within the budget.

… The color works.

… The width of roll turned out to perfectly align with the bottom of the stairs.

… This option is perfectly suited for pushups. I got a workout in when it snowed buckets the other day.

… And my little buddy now gets excited every time I make for the stairs, as ballgames on cold nights are already a part of the routine.

It is, as they say, all good.