It was a constructive day in the neighbourhood when Mortimer Snert decided to replace the floor in his soon-to-be kitchen. Mort had thought long and hard about doing this, and was waiting for the proper motivation to do such a task. Well, the proper motivation had arrived just days earlier, in the form of a thinly veiled threat from his kind and patient mother. Fix your house now she had told him or I’ll disown you. Mort considered the choices, and after careful thought, decided that fixing the house might not be so bad after all. What could it take to put in a new kitchen? The old one was already gone, thanks to Mort’s trusty chain saw, all he would need to do would be to put down a new floor, stick in some cabinets, add a few appliances, and that would be that. Shouldn’t take more than a day or two, he thought. So armed with his eternal optimism, Mort went out into the lovely fall weather. Just as quickly, he turned and went back inside. Now Mort was not one to get cold, and rarely ever complained about winter, but today was one of those days when he thought it might not be a bad idea to take along a jacket. Dredging through the closet, he came up with a huge coat that was rated for 40 below zero weather. This should do nicely, he said to the cat, who was snoozing on top of the heater vent. Donning his jacket, Mort went back outside into the brisk weather. Chiseling the ice off the door handle, he pried open his shiny new car (which by the way was shinier and newer than the last shiny new car he had gotten a few months earlier, and which by the way, was also not blue) and dove inside and engaged the starter. Immediately, 91 frosty Italian horses thundered to life behind his seat. Simultaneously, in front of him, the windscreen wiper motor thundered to life, and the wiper blades, being permanently adhered to the glass by a thick layer of ice, ripped loose from their mountings and scraped nastily across the windscreen. Trying not to be too unpleasant, he looked for the ice scraper, and suddenly came to the realization that he had left it in the other car when he had traded it in last week. Oh well, he said to no one in particular, that one wasn’t much good anyhow. Getting back out into the nice breeze, he made his way to the truck, and after a thorough search, finally located what had at one time been an ice scraper. Heading back to the car, he chipped the ice off the windows. By now, the horses were stampeding behind his seat, so he got back in the car and started off on his quest for linoleum. Having spent much time in thought about the new kitchen, he had decided that the floor should have that black and white alternating tile pattern which all the old cafeterias from the 50’s had, and since that pattern seemed to be popular, Mort thought he should get some for his floor. Driving to the floor place, he asked the salesperson for the pattern he wanted. We had some of that earlier this week, but we sold it all she said, Its really popular, you know. Undaunted, Mort set out for the next store on the list. After all, the day was still young. At the next store, he was met with the same song and dance about having sold it all. The salesman, who had obviously not met his quota for the day, dragged Mort back to the display and showed him several different patterns which were “similar”, and which caused Mort to have to clamp his jaw shut to keep from regurgitating over. Thanks he said, dashing for his car. On and on this procedure went, until finally he came to a store which actually had the pattern he wanted. Great, he thought. How much is it? The salesman consulted his books, and poked his calculator and announced Its on sale today for only $57 a square yard. Quickly calculating the size of his kitchen and the price of the linoleum, Mort came up with $969. Excuse me? he said. The salesman asked how much he needed, and when Mort told him 17 yards, the man poked at the calculator and came up with the exact same amount that Mort had. Sorry, said Mort, that’s too much. The man offered to throw in a can of glue. Sorry, repeated Mort, who was rapidly retreating to his car. Maybe being disowned was not so bad after all. Having one store between himself and certain death, Mort drove back across town with his fingers tightly crossed. Arriving at the store, he could see the pattern he wanted displayed in the window. Saying a silent prayer, he approached the salesman and told him how much of the junk he needed. Poking the calculator, the man came up with a price that was considerably less than the other store. And you’ll need some glue, and this junk to patch the seams in the floor, and these sheets of stuff to lay under the new linoleum, and some nails, and a trowel and a knife to cut around the edges and that should do it. How hard is it to install this stuff asked Mort, who had never attempted a project of this nature. It’s a breeze, said the man, all you have to do is rip up the old linoleum, nail down these boards, patch the seams, put some glue on and throw the linoleum on top. Encouraged, Mort paid the man and went home to get the truck. Carefully checking the wiper switch, he started the truck, went to the store, retrieved the stuff and returned home. Having already cleared the kitchen, he was ready to start ripping up the old floor. Starting at one corner, he pried a piece loose and gave it a good tug. Nothing happened. Digging out the putty knife, he tried a different spot, with similar results. The crowbar had the same effect, as did the shovel. He’d just as well be trying to remove paint from a wall. Deciding that removing the old flooring was not all that critical, Mort moved on to the next step. He cut the new boards to size with no problem and was ready to nail them down when he discovered that he had no nails. No problem, he thought, the lumber store is still open. Arriving at the lumber store, he selected the type of nails the floor man told him to get, and shoveled some into a bag. That should be plenty, he thought. Paying for them, he headed back home. Consulting the instructions the floor feller had given him, Mort discovered that the new boards had to be nailed every 6 inches. Half an hour later, he was heading back to the nail store, where he bought a huge bag of nails this time. Back at the house, he decided to use the chalk line and mark the floor where the nails should go so he wouldn’t have to measure it out. Getting out the chalkline, he discovered it was quite empty, and so he found the bottle of chalk and proceeded to fill the thing. For some reason, no chalk would come out of the bottle. He shook it and rattled it to no avail. Finally he turned it up and looked in the spout to see what was wrong. Seeing nothing, he squeezed the bottle. An immense cloud of blue chalk erupted from the bottle and covered him from head to toe. Spewing chalk dust out his nose, Mort stumbled backwards and dropped the bottle. As it hit the floor, the lid came off, causing it to emit an even larger cloud of blue. Trying to retain his sense of humour, and looking somewhat like an overgrown smurf, Mort began salvaging the chalk dust. Salvaging enough chalk to fill the thing, he headed back to the kitchen. Measuring carefully and using the chalkline, he laid out a grid on the floor where all the nails should go. After it was all laid out, he stood up and looked at it and said to himself, Dang, what have I gotten myself into? Just as well get started, he thought. Sitting on the floor, he started in one corner and worked his way along the wall. The cat helped by dumping the bag of nails and scattering them over the floor. Ignoring the cat, Mort nailed on. He nailed for hours, and when he checked to see how he was doing, he discovered he had only covered an area 4 feet square. Time for a break, he thought, as he tried to stand up and found out he couldn’t move. By now the cat was bored and had resorted to knocking nails down the heater vent and listening to them as they rattled their way down the ductwork to the heater and got caught in the blower. Finally getting up, Mort managed to hobble into the dining room and get his soda, which was mostly water by this time. Working the kinks out of himself, he decided it was time to go back to hammering. Ignoring the cat, who was busy chewing a corner off the new linoleum, he made his way back to the kitchen. Sitting on the floor, Mort started hammering again. He hammered for hours. His back went numb and still he hammered. He got splinters in his butt, and still he hammered. His ears rang from the noise, and still he hammered. He hammered for hours, he hammered for days, he hammered for weeks. He hammered forty days and forty nights without stopping, and finally was done. Crawling up the stairs, he collapsed into his bed. He had only been asleep a few minutes when he was awakened by a sharp poke in his side. Turning over to see what caused it, he saw his interior decorator, who also doubled as his mother, standing over him. Get up you lazy bum, she said. Think you can sleep all day? You sure didn’t get much done on the floor yesterday. Go away, said Mort, and let me die in peace. Over the next several days, however, Mort did get the linoleum installed, and stuck in some cabinets, and a few appliances, and suddenly, the kitchen was done. And Mort lived happily ever after.