To be perfectly clear this post has to do with a contractor who really sucks at his job. This post is not meant to be a guide on which contractors to avoid, though you might take a tip or two away in this post.
I hired this contractor in late June to re-build my second story deck, which runs across the length of the back of my house. The old deck had seen its best days perhaps forty years ago. At first the guy seemed great, he had given me a good price and began to re-build the structure immediately. That first week was paradise he had the old deck torn down within three days max, and began to build the frames for the new deck.
As I said that first week paradise, now it’s August 9th and I don’t even have the flooring fully in, so now that you’ve gotten an idea of what I’ve been dealing with I’ll continue.
For privacy sake I’ll be using a different name for my crazy, nut job contractor, we’ll call him… Loony Larry, or just Larry for short.
Hmm, let’s see what was the first indication that Larry was indeed loony, ah yes the garage door moment.
Friday, 10:30AM, July 29th, location: driveway/garage.
I came around to the back of the house to ask Larry a question about the deck, I expected to find him up on the deck. Instead I find him sitting again one of my garage doors, with his radio sitting beside him. The radio was cranking out country music, I’m pretty sure I heard Reba McEntire’s For my broken heart playing.
Larry sits against the garage door, his face, the definition of gloom. The lyrics, (I guess the world won’t stop, for my broken heart.) Play on, making the gloom on his face even more defined. I approach him cautiously, for fear that I might be seeing apart of him that he wouldn’t want one of his customers to see; or at least I certainly wouldn’t if I were in his shoes. He looks up and sees me, suddenly I feel awkward, as if I’ve intruded on a private moment. But then the business side of my brain pops into play with, he shouldn’t be having a private moment while on the job site. This propels me forward and I stand near him waiting.
Larry: (Turns down the music) Sorry Chelsea, I’m just feeling a bit blue at the moment.
Me: (Can’t help feeling sympathetic, though I don’t even know why he’s depressed.) I’m sorry to here that.
Larry: (Kicks at a piece of gravel.) I’ve been working so much, and I guess I’m just worn down.
Me: We all get worn down, but I wouldn’t get depressed about it.
Larry: It’s not so much that, it’s really the fact that I had to fire one of my guys last week, for stealing tools.
Me: (I have heard this story a dozen times since the termination of the employee’s position. I know the details so well, that I could recite them. So I do; out of pure annoyance and frustration.) I know the guy worked with you for years, and you’ve known him since you did flooring installs for Bob’s furniture. But the guy can’t have been that great if he stole from you.
Larry: (sighs.) I know you’re right, but he was a good friend, and I miss him.
Me: (I feel the need to repeat the last bits of what I just said to him, but decide not to because he’ll yammer on and on about the guy, and all I want Larry to do is get to work on the deck.) Say you know what would help take those blues away? (He looks at me perplexedly, then shakes his head.) Good old fashioned hard work, so roll up those sleeves, and I bet you’ll be feeling better before you know it.
Larry: You know something Chelsea, I haven’t had to use. (He raises his fists.) Old Betsy, and Bertha, since I was in high school. We’re talking fifteen years.
Me: (Tried as I might to avoid this, he’s started to yammer, great.) I’m sure that fight is a hard thing to come to terms with. But I’m telling you the kind of work that you do, building things, that probably just makes you feel so good, and releases your tensions. Perhaps I’ll join you up there, that is if I weren’t afraid of heights.
Larry: Chels you’re gay right?
Me: (wondering what in the hell my sexuality has to do with this conversation?) Yes, why?
Larry: (beginning to sob.) I- I- was just wondering if you could tell me why guys are so mean?
Me: (He’s joking right?) Well that’s hard to say considering I’m a lesbian and have never dated guys.
Larry: (Now sobbing into my shoulder.) It just sucks, why can’t you just be able to trust an employee anymore? Why would they just rob you blind, I mean he was paid a decent wage.
Me: (Creeped out and losing my patience.) Sometimes people just suck and you just need to get over it. (I pick up his hammer and hand it to him.) I’ve got to get going, so you should get back to work on the flooring install of the deck.
Larry: Yeah, I should. (He begins to sob again.)
Me: (For Christ sake.) What now?
Larry: Nothing, it just, this was Kevin’s hammer.
Me: Look there’s another hammer in the garage, I’ll be by later to see how things are progressing.
It’s ten days later and I’m still waiting for him to finish the flooring, but he has at least attached all of the railing and some of the stairs. Apparently I attract the same type of contractors as the type women that I date, both are crazy, and are full of excuses, and are extremely lazy.