neurotranscendence

…life on the synaptic firing range

Name:
Location: Los Angeles, United States

Bent but unbroken Southern California native seeks understanding, companionship, and resonance along and off the beaten path. Teresa plays well with others and makes every effort to perform to her potential. Usually. *processed in a facility that processes nuts and nut products

Saturday, January 28, 2006

the passive-aggressive contractor

We have a workman at our house today performing part 2 of 2 in the rehabilitation of our office ceiling. A week and a half ago he patched a 4-foot-square hole, and today he's blending the drywall repair, which, because parts of our house, including the office, were victim to the 1950s standard of acoustic "popcorn" ceilings, involves plastering over the entire expanse.

When we finally resolved to have the 11-month-old hole fixed, I suggested that as long as men wielding plaster and trowels were going to be here maybe we could do away with the asbestos-riddled hideousness as well, at least in that room. Everybody's doing it lately! I wonder whether the whole asbestos-ceiling racket wasn't something plotted by yesterday's contractors so that their sons could one day find gainful employment removing them. But I have to keep such truths to myself, having learned a long time ago that otherwise smart people aren't ready for my kind of forward thinking. Conspiracy theories, my ass.

At the time of our estimate, however, the contractor shook his head, pronouncing it nearly impossible to properly scrape our ceiling smooth since the material used here was not the typical spray-on carcinogenic evilness but rather a concrete mix; he could, however, plaster over it, he said. OK, we decided, better to seal in the asbestos than continue to share living space with its spores, and we had no reason to doubt the word of someone who, unlike ourselves, knew something about this kind of thing…

This was before we realized we were dealing with the passive-aggressive contractor. For simplicity's sake, let's call him Derek, which is his actual name. My partner found him on Angie's List, a website where consumers rate and research home service contractors.

*A word about my partner: When seeking my approval for something, she often presents "facts" that are not so much false as they are, say, lacking necessary caveats. So when she said she had found someone on Angie's List who was very highly recommended, she left out the part about his rating resting entirely and precariously upon just one performance review.

**A word about me: I'm basically inert, so I'm delighted anytime my partner is willing to project-manage. My vetting of her proposed plan of action is a charade: She knows that I don't really want to take responsibility for it, and I know that any decision-making criteria presented to me are loaded in favor of the option she wants me to pick.

Derek and my partner agreed upon a day and time for the estimate, which he forgot about. Happily, my partner had some time off work in January, so while Derek's mental lapse was annoying, it wasn't costly. They rescheduled, and he showed up an hour and a half late. He glanced at the hole and said he'd fax her an estimate later that day. She told him we had no way of receiving faxes at home and asked whether he might be able to e-mail the estimate, a request that was reportedly greeted with the enthusiasm of a child told to go clean his room.

There was no word from Derek for several days. We decided that he was a giant flake and that we should probably move to the next guy on Angie's List, but then Derek's estimate arrived, and it was about half the price we expected it to be. Clearly, Derek was our man. My partner signed a contract with him and he said he would be in touch. The next morning, a Monday, Derek called at 7 and said his men would be there in an hour. "Um, that really won't be possible today. We both have to work," she told him. Derek seemed surprised that we needed more than an hour's notice to start a home-improvement project on a weekday. "Tuesday or Wednesday would be perfect, though," she said. "I'll be home from work all day." He said Wednesday would be fine.

Wednesday came and went with no sign of Derek or his crew. That evening my partner called Derek, who said he forgot but that he would have people there the next morning. We rearranged our schedules, each taking a half-day off work to accommodate him, and the next morning, as scheduled, the crew showed up—a guy, actually. He's a very nice guy, even if our pets don't like him and he has a tendency to leave the toilet seat up. He patched the hole and said he would have to come back to do the plaster overlay. We asked if Saturday was possible, because neither of us wanted to take more time off work. He said he would be back Saturday.

Friday night we got home late to find a message on our machine from Derek asking us to call and confirm that Saturday morning would be OK. We had thought this was a done deal, but we called and left a message saying that, yes, Saturday would be great. We got up at 7 that morning to be ready to receive the "crew." At noon my partner called and left a message saying that no one had shown up.

Two days later, Monday, we awoke at 7 a.m. to a call from Derek saying that no one had shown up because we hadn't confirmed. We said that we felt we had but that regardless we would like to schedule the work for the following Saturday. Derek made some noise about preferring to do it during the week. We reminded him that we were both employed, not bothering to go into detail as to why we wouldn't want to take time off work to accommodate someone who may or may not show up. Derek pouted that Saturday would be fine and arranged an 8 a.m. start time.

Thursday at 7 a.m. we awoke to a call from Derek reminding us that his guy would be at our house Saturday. "Great," my partner said, shaking cobwebs out of her head. "We'll be here."

Friday at 6:15 a.m. we awoke to a call from Derek reminding us that his guy would be at our house Saturday at 7 a.m. We knew we had agreed upon 8, but 6:15 is too early to argue about details like that.

Saturday, this morning, we awoke at 6:40 to be ready for Derek's guy, who arrived at 8:15.

Our ceiling is now as smooth as a baby's bottom, with its cancer-harboring stalactites contained beneath an inch of plaster. And I'm happy that the work is done. The house feels cozier, and we can once again spend time in the office without staring forlornly at our roof beams through the exposed attic. Still, I'm left to wonder, when we send Derek our payment in full, would it be forward of me to include a copy of the book "Overcoming Passive-Aggression: How to Stop Hidden Anger from Spoiling Your Relationships, Career, and Happiness"?

9 Comments:

Blogger treecup said...

The passive-aggressive blog reader says to the inert copyeditor that book titles, even fictitious ones, should be in italics instead of in quotes.

pwick.

10:12 PM  
Blogger scout said...

The copy editor in question—copy editor the noun is two words, while copyedit the verb is one word—replies that she is hampered by the fact that the Safari browser, which works best with Macs, and this site don't communicate perfectly, one of the bugs being that italics and bolds don't show up. Believe me, it bothers me more than it bothers you. Also, that's a real book title.

10:59 PM  
Blogger sporksforall said...

She who is pwicked in the blog will not comment on the blog other than to say...hmpmphf.

11:15 PM  
Blogger treecup said...

The passive-aggressive blog reader is duly humbled by the counter-pwick adminstered by the inert copy editor (two words) and would like to ask her what the correct spelling of "hmpmphf" might be.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous ani said...

Loved it!

Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like passive-aggressiveness is interfering with his work, does it? Who knows, maybe the surf was up the days he didn't appear. Or...

2:10 PM  
Blogger Slangred said...

Yes, that's a real book title. I know, I ordered it for the psychology collection at my library. (And thought of reading it, but haven't yet)

11:23 PM  
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