Randy Turner, the concrete subcontractor on my new home, wanted to enter my house in a homebuilders awards contest for the state of Washington. He told me it would really help his business to have an award and he thought my house was the most elegant work he’d ever done. We got pictures together, wrote a flowery description of the house, and sent them in to the contest. Excitingly, we were notified that we had been selected as finalists, and our dinner would be paid for if we came to the awards ceremony.
The ceremony was in the Hilton just west of Seattle so my wife, Gwynne, and I left early to be there. Gwynne even bought some new black, high-heeled dress shoes for the occasion. We walked around Seattle a little before the event until Gwynne developed some blisters on her feet from the new shoes. She was relieved when we sat down as the ceremony began. In the room were several thousand sweaty, calloused-handed men. Gwynne was one of the only women, and certainly the only one in high-heels.
We sat through awards for “Best Concrete Retaining Wall,” “Best Concrete Culvert,” “Best Concrete Freeway Interchange,” and “Best Concrete Pedestrian Overpass.” I was catching a drift of the intended awardees. Finally, just after “Best Concrete Skateboard Park,” was our category: “Best Family Residence Made of Concrete.” A picture of our house along with its title was projected on a 30 foot wall.
“The Martin Hass House?” I asked.
Another guy at our table whispered to me, “I heard they thought that ‘The Martin Hash House” sounded too much like a drug reference.”
“But it’s my name.”
The professional announcer blandly read off the features of “The Martin Hass House” before going on to the next entry,” but then he got excited. “We know we said this banquet was about you, not about us – but the next award IS about us… The Concrete Products Association of Washington is proud to present… ‘The Concrete Products Association of Washington House!’”
It turns out that for promotional purposes, all the members of the Concrete Association of Washington had contributed their time and materials to build a two bedroom bungalow entirely out of concrete. It had concrete siding, concrete shingles, concrete countertops, concrete flooring, concrete stairs, concrete bathroom fixtures, and even a pool table made entirely out of concrete.
Remarkably enough, the Concrete Products Association of Washington gave the Concrete Products Association of Washington Award for “Best Family Residence Made of Concrete” to “The Concrete Products Association of Washington House.” It must have been good, it beat the “The Martin Hass House.”
“I’m sorry you didn’t win,” Randy sincerely consoled me.
“What? I didn’t get a 25 pound plaque made of concrete shaped like the state of Washington with my name misspelled on it?” I replied.
p.s. Randy Turner did get the award he was after because he had also worked on “The Concrete Products Association of Washington House.”