It’s nerve-wracking to think of it; you’re opening your home to a state-licensed inspector whose job it is to basically see you and look on where you live, how you live, and pass judgment on all of it.
I spent the day off work finalizing things. I needed a secure place for toxics such as bleach, antihistamines and so on; and I needed working smoke detectors in every bedroom and a CO detector somewhere (since the house is gas-heated, has a gas water heater and a gas stove), and a 2A10BC fire extinguisher, plus surprising little add-ons such as nonskid tracks in the shower or bath.
So I finalized. I’d done the rest, taking extra circuit load from wall outlets, putting my drinking alcohol into inaccessible shelves and so on — but still, the worry was palpably there. As I removed the Clorox from my bathroom floor and put it into the bottom drawer of a locking file cabinet — bought just for the purpose — I noticed a harvestman spider resting in its web in the forgotten laundry/bathroom corner.
I blew on it just to check and it moved; it was alive.
Well, I left it. (It’s not that I love spiders, though I have had a few pet tarantulas; but it wasn’t causing harm, it was doing its arachnid thing, and I didn’t and do not see it as a threat to anything.)
The appointment began early; my contact called to say she was running ahead of schedule. I told her I was ready; I was, as well as I could be. Spiders (well, one) and all.
Her assessment was, and I quote, that I “passed with flying colors”.
I think I was a little surprised. Not because I live in filthy hovel, but because this home is absolutely not going to be on the cover of any kind of magazine in the foreseeable future, particularly titles such as Clutter-Free Monthly or Spotlessly Sterile Times or especially Shit on Every Horizontal Surface Removed Quarterly.
But I think I understand. I think I know why the assessment process is as it is. The checklist is easy to manage and largely common sense (something, I think, which is egregiosuly lacking in too many cases); I think it’s more like a backup necessity.
I think you pass — or not — on the very first impression.
When you walk into my home you see chaos in some ways. I have racks of dusty DVDs and books everywhere; I have a pile of shit on the coffee table, stacks of papers and things to be dealt with and books to be read; in my bedroom are about 1000 or so more books and in Yoshi’s burgeoning space there’s still work to be done.
The inspection, though, isn’t about white-glove work on all the surfaces — good, because I would not have passed on that — nor is it on the presence of a few drops of spatter on the toilet rim (also good, though I can say with certainty my bathroom is extremely well kept). I think those requirements are there to help the state workers back up their issues, if they have any; but I think if they walk into a house they can tell, almost instantly, if it’s a good — or at least tolerable — place for a child to live in.
Does the fridge reek when the temp probe is put in it to confirn it’s kept at 35 or so degrees? Are there wires running all over that can be tripped on? Are there beer signs on every wall and art done up of limbs and bodies and gore? Is there a life-sized effigy of Michael Jackson in one corner with pictures of boys and girls placed reverently about it?
In short, does this house look damn dangerous in any intentifibale way at all?
My space is a bit cluttered but not hugely in disarray. It’s not spotless but it doesn’t stink. It’s not full of porn or dangerous weapons. It’s just a place where I live, and it’s a place where most reasonable humans could live as well (assuming they had a predilection for tea, Talking Heads and Kurosawa movies).
I think the paperwork helps identify threats, but I think it might also serve as a way of putting formal protest to the idea of, I don’t believe this person should ever have a child alone with him, not even for one moment.
You know, I suspected that was the case from the beginning; but I was still gratified to know I’d made the cut.
Because, you see, thrilled and relieved as I am, I think this is really going to happen. I am beginning to think I really am going to be a dad, and I’m exhilerated and terrified at what that means.
Next step: Priming up Yoshi’s room.
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