Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The forces of evil, known as repair men.

It was 9:30 a.m. and I felt as if the day had been going on for weeks. Certainly the events leading up to this day have been going on for weeks, so maybe that is why I am inclined to feel exhausted. Yesterday, the painter/installer of our new storm windows arrived. It has taken him nearly two months to “arrive”. We spoke with him in the end of August and agreed upon the work he was being contracted to do and all he had to do in the short term was wait for the windows to be built.

We had chosen to go with a friend's window company. They build wonderful wooden storms, like the kinds our grandparents all rushed to replace with steel or aluminum storms. Our grandparents were aging and taking storms out each spring and replacing them with screens is a tough job. I remember Steve telling me how his dad used to do this twice a year on their old farmhouse. Every year one of the storms would break on the way up or down and every year his dad would have a swearing festival at the foot of a ladder.

In our city climate, we have little problems with black flies or mosquitoes. This is not even remotely true 2 miles away from here. The bugs here fly around, but not in numbers to disturb. The snails behave worse. We will have more trouble with hornets, but the cat who was allergic is gone and the girl who is terrified has moved out. From an insulation/environmental point of view, these suckers will last for 100 years and over time, will prove so cost efficient I could go to Milan for the fashion shows. So we had 4 made. We also had a new window made for the front wall of the house, in our bedroom. Camera and computer are stressed by all the construction, so images will have to come another day.

We have also had a new back door and a storm door made but more about those later. I am very, very excited (and hopefully not going to be disappointed) with those.

Buddy doesn't show up when the windows are ready and then he calls and says there is trouble at home (New Brunswick) and he has to go home. For 3 weeks. He calls again and says, 'I ran my thumb under a saw, it will be a few more days.” Another 3 weeks go by. Then he shows up with the windows and delivers them and begins to drive away. I manage to catch him before he is fully out the driveway to see what is going on. He's pissed off because the job involves putting hinges on the storms so they can swing out a bit for window cleaning. No one told him this ! ..... ! He's been working for this company for a few years, lots of storm windows have hinges on them for window cleaning purposes. If he has to do this, he needs to bring in another person and that will cost more money. AND he didn't know he had to paint the space between the windows and storms. Isn't he a painter? I keep my cool and say, “I don't have the quote to look at but I'm sure Steve and you can figure something out if it is going to take more work and money. However (and this is where things go south) I do know that you were asked to do this painting piece because it is the whole point of asking you to do the job. We can install windows ourselves, but we don't have the time for the painting parts. I wouldn't have hired you if you weren't doing the painting.” You recall he is a painter first and foremost and installs also.

He gets a little hot under the collar and says he has to charge us more because it is all too much work and I (stupidly) say “Well, how are you going to solve this? It is nearly November and getting too late to paint.” He stomps off. I stomp off in the other direction and phone Steve and scream. Apparently, asking a repair man how they are going to solve a problem is like asking a 30-40 year old woman if she dyes her hair. Not done.

Steve is now involved in soothing feathers all over the place, the owner of the window company drops off some weather stripping and gets involved in a gossipy kind of way and I annoy him by saying “It doesn't make much sense to me to build windows and not have a sure way to install them. Windows sitting in a garage are rather useless.” Luckily, he's a friend, so he kind of forgives me my ignorance.

Painter repair guy shows up yesterday and the work is begun. I gather he has annoyed another client similarly to me and also annoyed his boss, so he's kind of in the dog house. His manners and enthusiasm have improved. And truthfully, his work skills are excellent. Until we get to the new window. He needs me to help steady it and I (my stupidity remains unchecked) ask “Do you think it is level?” which is a nice way of saying, “this thing is not level but you are the professional so I am asking in a sideways kind of way so as not to offend you for missing the obvious.” Painter buddy says, “Put a shim at the left side.” so I do and now it is certainly not level so I offer to put a shim on the right side and he says “No don't. It's perfect.” I know I am defeated.

Steve comes home from work and asks how things look inside, they look great from outside. I say “Go take a look, big fella.” and he knows something is up because I only call him big fellow when we are in a cartoon sort of moment of life. He looks at the window and says.... “It's not level.” I suggest, in dulcet tones, that maybe he should stay home and deal with these buggers who think that women making suggestions or asking questions are idiots and better left in the closet with lipstick to play with. It wasn't fair of me to take it out on Steve, who works very hard to keep everyone from killing each other from time to time.

Steve calls buddy, and Steve calls window making company owner and Steve calls the guy who made the actual window and they confab and all agree to meet at 8:30 this morning. Window maker doesn't show up till 10, but luckily Steve has agreed to hang around until we have consensus, excluding anything I have to say about it. They close the door so I can't come into the bedroom to listen. ! The window needs to come out and be routered (a technical term for take some wood off somewhere using a noisy machine) and here we are, at 11:45 and painter dude is humming along.

Except of course for the fact that this job is so far behind schedule that the guys from Scotia Fuel have arrived (as scheduled) to take out the old oil tank and install the new one. They need to have the basement door open. This involves locking the cats in the studio with me and their litter box. 11:00 seems to be kitty cat poop time. It is charming in here. Also there isn't any heat on, because the tank is disengaged. And the windows are open because things are being installed. And thee are oil fumes. I have on two sweaters, boots and mitts. It is hard to type with mitts on. I wonder if the young carpenter we hired to build us some covers for the radiators will show up any time today. That job is nearly 6 months old, but in an effort to support youth and local businesses and old fashioned trades, we are trying to help her along, making little suggestions, like “Communicating time lines with a client is a good practice.” She called us last Friday and said “I've given myself permission to go to Montreal for a week and when I get back, I will get started.” “Fine, have a great time! Thanks for communicating.” and I staggered up to a hot tub giving myself permission to have a double scotch and an ENTIRE chocolate bar at 3 in the afternoon. It seems inevitable that she should roll in soon.

The old tank has been taken away and the banging from the basement has stopped and Fuel guys are gone.

Here is the new tank. Isn't she pretty? This should last 25 years, unless a tree falls on it.

“Trees... stay put!”

ps. it turned out this mornings adventures were nothing compared to the excitement of getting more paint, but that will take an hour to write about.... once i calm down.

1 comment:

  1. Hope those windows are lighter than the old ones. It is a like a Cirque de Soleil act carrying them up a ladder to the 2nd storey to put them on and off. Let me know when they are due to be changed and I'll drop by with my lawn chair and friends for the entertainment. As for the rest.....the self-employed constuction industry takes the NS leisurely lifstyle very seriously.