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17 Step Program

We live in the city. Our last house was on a hill and our current house is on a hill. We like the hills. It gets us up and away from the riff – raff of street level living. It’s not a huge hill. Just high enough. Occasionally, on a hot summer afternoon I’ll see a smartly clad pair of Mormon boys hesitate at the foot of the hill, and move along. What’s the matter, I want to say, can’t you save a fellow on a hill. Your loss. Today was the day I was thinking about becoming a Mormon. I mean, with all the commercials on the television as of late, showing me just how anyone could possibly be a Mormon I wonder what these boys look like in their regular street clothes and not their Mormon Super Saving Hero costumes. Before the Mormons started running ads to show how they’re regular people (and maybe even one could be President someday) I got all my Mormon information from the black slacked/white shirted boys in the summer and from the HBO show Big Love. I wanted the boys to come up my hill so that I could look them dead in the eye and tell them I’m already a Mormon. Keep up the good work. Some young guys dressed in a similar fashion to you (with capes) came here a couple of years ago and got me to join up. Go Team Mormon.

We never use our front steps to get into our house. So I don’t pay too much attention to them unless I see someone considering the climb or mid climb. We used to release vats of boiling oil to stop the solicitors – but that was before the safety of our children became a consideration. But, I had noticed fewer ascents from the street base camp this summer. Then a day or so after the Mormons didn’t attempt to scale our perimeter I got a letter in the mail from the city. This letter explained to me that my steps were broken and in disrepair. I was given 1 month to fix them or else. I got a couple quotes that were higher than I would care to pay, so I decided to do the work myself. But, first I toyed with the idea of just baracading the entry to the front steps and tell the city that it wasn’t a stairway but instead what I was referring to as a “rubble slide” for the kids. I imagined calling a city official over to look at my rubble slide and having Hoyt get on a small piece of plywood and slide down the steps/rubble combination to prove that it truly is a fun kid thing. One day it may even catch on and I could work with the city to engineer rubble slides. The engineering part is fairly simple, but I didn’t want to let them know that right now. I engineered my rubble slide by putting a lot of salt on my steps in the winter and by totally ignoring the fact that they were falling apart.

Unfortunately, there’s some law on the books about needing access to the front door of your house. And it appears that when you’re on a hill, the city requires steps to get up the hill. I think this is the cheapest way to go. I didn’t look into an escalator, but my guess was that could be too expensive. My other thought was some kind of rope tow system that could use the rubble slide that was already in place. Anyway, I have 17 steps ranging from 94″ wide on the bottom to about 52″ on the top. I haven’t mixed concrete in some years and I’ve never done a job like this only using bags of concrete mix. I decided the easiest way to not have a lot of expense for forms was just to do one step (maybe two) per day. Thus begins my 17 step program. Hi, my name is Jason Spafford and I let my steps become a rubble slide. Unlike most other step programs there are not different things to do. I imagine one could meld my 17 step program with a traditional 12 step program and come up with something like this:

  • Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over our steps – that our steps had become unmanageable
  • Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore our steps
  • Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our steps over to the care of the City as we understood the City
  • Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless inventory of our concrete tools
  • Step 5 – Admitted to the City, to ourselves and to a neighbor the exact nature of our steps
  • Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have the City remove all these defects of our steps
  • Step 7 – Humbly asked the City to remove our steps
  • Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all (ie Postal Carriers, Mormons)
  • Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
  • Step 10 – Continued to take personal inventory of the steps and when they were damaged promptly fixed them
  • Step 11 – Sought through concrete and red clay to improve and color our steps and contact with the City as we understood the City, paying only for knowledge of the City inspector’s will for us and the power to carry the construction out (building permit)
  • Step 12 – Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other owners of rubble slides, and to practice these principles with all our steps
  • Step 13 – Pour concrete
  • Step 14 – Pour concrete
  • Step 15 – Pour concrete
  • Step 16 – Pour concrete
  • Step 17 – Pour concrete

Sadly Yours,

Jason Spafford

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