“It’s always the right time to do the right thing.” – President Tom McDaniel, Oklahoma City University
Life would have been easier had the contractors I hired attended the same school of thought as Tom McDaniel. Instead, I’ve done well to keep my cool and keep my head up, to avoid drowning in the whine and waves of contractor excuses.
Oh… the stories I could tell. But better yet… are the stories my contractors have told me; stories of the fictional sort, the type Mom would probably have called “lies.”
My favorite is the tale of an imaginary wreck on Interstate 40, complete with the gory details of how a male passenger, not wearing his seat belt, had propelled through the windshield when the woman driver he was riding with ran into a trash truck stalled in the right lane. Believing it was true, I sympathized with him, wondering if seeing such reality had affected his ability to sleep. “Oh, yes,” he told me. “But what are you going to do?”
I scoured for news of this wreck for several days, looking at the state highway patrol online records as well as local newspapers, before realizing I’d been had. Nary a word was found. Nada, I tell you. So like the mother I am, the next time I spoke with my nightmare plagued contractor, I told him so. I wasn’t ugly. I didn’t accuse. I didn’t have to. I let the truth speak for itself, by telling him I’d been unable to find a word about the tragic traffic accident that had left him so shaken, that caused him such fear in driving to my sister’s house. And wisely, faced with the truth, my contractor didn’t say a word.
When it comes to contractors, the blame game is alive and well in my everyday life. There are all sorts of creative excuses for not doing the right thing. Here’s one: The right tools and equipment are not available. This was recently used by our remediation company for not supplying us with a humidifier to dry out our basement. When our insurance company adjuster discovered their shortfall two days later, one was magically found and brought. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late — mold had already begun to grow, and my husband spent Father’s Day tearing out sheet rock and HVAC duct insulation — the outcome hoped to be prevented by the humidifier.
Here’s another one. “The painters did it.” This was used by one of my sister’s floor refinishing guys, when he was told to clean up spilled polyurethane on my sister’s front porch. Of course, the poor guy didn’t realize that my sister and I were the painters he was accusing — at least not until I enlightened his boss, who most likely shared the horrible truth to the troops at the front line.
My husband informs me that this is what general contractors do — that they listen and sift through stories for nuggets of the truth, that they wisely get to the bottom of finger-pointing blame games, setting all things right in the end. In other words, general contractors are the mother hens of a job, magically pulling rabbits out of hats.
And that, my friends, is where my sister’s house is these days: it’s the white rabbit. My sister’s house is the amazing “I-can’t-believe-my-eyes” transformation, that if it wanted to, could become a star on HGTV. All that remains on the inside is a little more painting, which we hope to finish by Wednesday.
This week, with a floor refinishing crew inside, I’ve been on extension ladders painting outside. Well… not just me; it’s been a holy trinity with a small “t”” — of God, Purdy and me.
That’s where I was on Tuesday afternoon, moments before getting the call that Amy, my son’s girlfriend, was in the ER. And for me, the right thing was no longer painting with God and Purdy. Instead, it was making sure that Bryan and Amy had the benefit of my presence if it was needed or desired. And though I’m not sure my presence fell in either category, they nevertheless allowed me to come sit by Amy’s hospital bedside anyway.
Sitting there, it became clear that Amy would recuperate better with folks who could watch over her. So she came to stay with us for a few days. And instead of mothering contractors, I mothered a sick adult child, which was so much more satisfying. Amy’s father thanked me, though there was no need. Not only was it my joy — it was the right thing to do.
I am just laughing – I see we weren’t quite done with the lackadaisical contractors! Of course, since I are one (and my $2,000 annual contractor’s liability insurance proves it) I might be forgiven for jumping to the contractors’ defense.
But all I can do is laugh. What you describe is true from this side of the fence, too. About three years into building my business people started telling me I should hire employees. Do more work, make more money. Easy.
But not really. To make a six months’ story short, one fellow kept having grandmothers die. I think he had sixteen or something. Anyway, every time another died he couldn’t come to work. Fellow number two was there every day in body, but eventually I figured out he was carrying something other than koolaid in his thermos.
After six months, we all parted ways. They didn’t work up to my standards, I wasn’t sure I could trust them, and they began to earn more per job w/their hourly wage than I did. Sigh.
Anyway, it sounds as though the house is just about done and perfect, and as always you turned on that proverbial dime to get to what was important. I hope the people in your life are healing and the mold is dying. I tend to anthropomorphize everything in sight, but I’m cutting that mold no slack on account of sentimentality for its microscopic essence. It needs to die. 😉
Your story about the guy with a passel of grandmothers made me think of the young teen girl’s monthly excuse of Aunt Edna (or some other appropriate name) coming for a visit with cramps, migraines and related maladies. Too bad your contractor had to be male? As a woman, it would be easier to sympathize with Aunt Edna’s routine call.
The story about fellow #2 reminded me of the reasons I first began painting. Prior to moving to OKC, I had always hired my painting out; I had no trouble finding good painters in Lake Jackson. Unfortunately, what was plentiful in Texas was not so here, though I’m sure fabulous painters exist somewhere in OKC — they’re probably so busy, they don’t advertise — I’m sure word of mouth keeps them busy.
My first (and last) OKC painting team consisted of three: a 40-ish male and two twenty-somethings. The younger guy was always buzzed on alcohol, the girl was a crack addict and the oldster of the bunch ended up serving 8 months in the county jail.
Of course, all of this took a while to figure out — but once I did, life got easier. I decided to stop paying “my” three stooges money for something I could do just as well myself. So I cut them loose, picked up a brush and set about to even up their cutting lines.
Life is now good… and easier… without managing other folks painting work. So it seems we ended up learning the same lesson, in spite of sitting on different sides of the painted picket fence.
As for Amy, she is better, though not yet a hundred percent. As I write this, I’m wondering what 100 percent looks like — and if I’ve ever really lived or witnessed this elusive state in my life!