Thursday, October 02, 2008

Linda and the Contractors

As some of you know, we've been having a professional contractor do some work in our new house in Danville. He's been working on the kitchen and the bathrooms and on the floors upstairs. I've been pretty much trying to stay out of the way. I'm spending a lot of time in our beautiful basement which Linda remodeled and made a fit place to sit and write in. Like Toni Morrison suggests in her novel Sula, "Sometimes, when things are going crazy, all you can do is to just get out of the way."

Linda, however, is in the thick of the work, tracking what's going on with it, and recently, she wrote up a piece about it. Here's her story:

Lillian told me that she read an essay by a woman that compared working with a contractor to having an affair. I know just how she felt, well, sort of anyway. Friday our contractor, Jimmy, was here sweet talking me with promises. We’d sleep in our own bed come Monday. We’d have a toilet and sink right there, finished, to clean up in at any hour of the day or night. The floor would look fabulous, the room would be set back. It would be like a night at the Ritz. Yesterday I started to worry. I got long suffering John to help me put our clothes back in their closets so that Monday morning Jimmy’s crew would be moving furniture only. So we worked and worked and worried some more, but we slept deep in anticipation of this morning’s busy chaos.

This morning came with one worker, a big kid I’d never seen before, and when I asked what he would do first, he answered but I couldn’t figure out what he’d said. Half hour later a short skinny guy who looks a bit like a heroin addict came by, friendly as could be, to do a bit more looking. And right on his heels we get the sanders, here to start their work day.
So I called the contractor’s office to complain that my husband was moving furniture (I am certain they aren’t going to pay John), and where is the crew Jimmy promised me. Many calming words and sweet promises. And then I get a plumber show up at the door. He’s trying to put in a toilet and sink, running up and down the stairs to the basement leaving all the doors open, the cat running every which way, and he’s in one lousy mood since the bathroom is full with furniture, books, clothes, boxes. I ask him if he’s ever had a worse environment, and he says “not lately.” I joke (big mistake) that even is he gets the sink and toilet finished, we won’t be able to get to them and we don’t have a bed up in the bedroom in any case. He grunts, says something I can’t understand, and runs back down the stairs.

John calls me from the front door to say Jimmy’s send someone to check to see if the bedroom is set up for us. I say we took the futon mattress to my study so that we’d salvage somewhere to sleep, but the bathroom is going to be inaccessible since the floors will be wet with polyurethane in any case. He mumbles something about camping, I go upstairs to close the door to the bedroom.
After I come down to gripe at John about it all (he’s holed up in the family room reading emails about his blog), I decide to check the bathroom again.

When I get upstairs I discover everyone is gone, except for the guy with the sanding machine that sounds like a jet engine is revving up in our living room. I run to the front door and discover all the cars and trucks are gone. Here I am waiting. Still no Jimmy. But I do have the check I wrote for his second draw on the work sitting on my desk, and I’ll be damned if I give it to anyone but him, if he ever shows up that is.


John Guzlowski said...

Hi, I got the following letter from Barbara Passmore, a Georgia writer and a friend:

What a miracle is the internet and iphone! Imagine while you and Linda were spending money madly, I was simply watching on all available TV channels (about 350) my retirement being depleted--$30,000 in just one day! After reading Linda’s piece, I wondered if maybe I could sell some bathroom pieces, such as the toilet tank that keeps filling night and day—until I finally propped the “controller” with a pair of Bill’s old pliers so it would stay up and be fooled into thinking the water level was that high. No matter where I am, I can still check my brokerage accounts to see how much I have lost since the last time I checked. And then the television tells me on every channel that the banks are all going bust while grown men (most are men) fuss over following even their own party’s orders.

If I come back in another life it will be as my own dog, whose biggest worry is that I will get ten feet away from her, less at night.

They say time is a healer, and I say I hope it has a large medicine kit!

My best to you and Linda – watch her and that contractor closely!


Urkat said...

I had to laugh at the part about you retreating to the study to post to your blog--exactly what I would do in your situation--haha. Once you get the house finished you can move back to Valdosta.