Another month gone, disappeared just like our money on Wall Street. Summer is past, Fall is starting and the leaves are already almost gone. Back when I was growing up my parents used to tell us that “money didn’t grow on trees.”
I wish they would have told that to the kids who grew up to be Wall Street Bankers.
September seems to have flown by even faster than the summer months. We did get brushed by a tropical storm Hana the first weekend of the month. No damage, just a lot of heavy rain for a couple of days that caused localized flooding.
I actually only had “Sea Dreams” out in the Potomac one day this month. It wasn’t nearly often enough. I probably will not have many more opportunities this season. It’s not that the air is getting colder; I can always wear a jacket. It’s that the way the boat ramp is setup at Leesylavania State Park; I cannot launch or recover my boat without getting at least knee-deep wet. Sometimes deeper than that, depending on how gracefully I handle the trailer. Spending an afternoon in an open boat cold and wet is not all that much fun. Really.
Since I wasn’t taking Sea Dreams out, I should have had a lot more free time to do things around the house. But that didn’t seem to work out either. We did have some more home improvement opportunities which led to another chapter of “adventures in finding a contractor.”
When tropical storm Hana blew through, all the rain came hard against the back of our house. During the worse part of the storm, Winnie and I were standing in the kitchen when we noticed water dripping out of the ceiling light fixture over the sink next to the outside wall. We knew right away that wasn’t good. It turned out we had rainwater leaking around the upstairs windows and spreading over the carpeted floor. This led to my cleaning out the front gutters and attempting to clean the rear (after the storm). When I discovered my ladder wouldn’t reach the rear gutters we had to make a decision: rent or buy a 40 foot ladder, or hire someone to do the job that already had a ladder.
It was an easy decision for me – I don’t like heights. So I hunted around and found what seemed to be a legitimate home handyman on Craig’s List. I called, he went out and made an estimate, then called me back. For the price of an arm and half a leg he committed to caulking all around all four rear windows, all the seams in our aluminum siding on the back of the house, and would clean out the rear gutters. It was still better than climbing 35 feet up a ladder myself, so I agreed to it. The contractor promised to come out the following Monday and Tuesday, half days, to do the work.
Winnie was home most of Monday, and never saw anyone show up. She was home all day Tuesday, and again never saw anyone show up. Wednesday should have been a work day for her, but turned into a plumbing fiasco. Just as I was getting ready to leave for work that morning, I heard water running in the laundry room where water had no place running. I told Winnie, and then left for my car pool. By the time I arrived at work Winnie determined that every time she poured water into any drain – shower, sink, and toilet – water ran out the open washer drain pipe. So I called a plumber.
The plumber ended up spending most of the day unclogging our sewer drain pipes. Winnie ended up taking the day off work so she could let him into the house. Meanwhile, the contractor hired to caulk the house again did not show up.
Friday, with leak-free pipes and still-leaky windows, I received an invoice from the caulking contractor. He billed me for all the work he promised to do, as well as nine tubes of caulking. I guess billing for work not completed is a good deal if you can get it.
I called the contractor Saturday morning, and in a chatty way asked him about the quantity of caulking used. After questioning the quantity, the contractor admitted he made a mistake of claiming too much and lowered the price. Then I asked him to confirm what day he came out. He couldn’t remember, but knew it wasn’t Thursday or Friday as it rained both days. Then I asked if he personally inspected the work, and was satisfied that all work we agreed to was performed, and performed to his standard. He said “yes.”
From there, our conversation went downhill rapidly. After a bit of my talking he started asking me if I thought he was lying to me, and my reply of “yes” seemed to confuse him. He again described the amount of work his crew did, and while I was standing in the back yard looking at the rear of the house, explained that I could pretty easily determine there in fact was no caulking on the back of the house. After a while the contractor ran out of sputtering and just said I didn’t have to pay my bill until I was satisfied, but he’d get back to me to prove the work was done.
I don’t know how he plans on proving the work was actually done, after the fact of not doing it and trying to charge for it. H.G. Wells’s Time machine? I’m just interested, in an analytical sort of way, as to what this contractor is going to try next.
So we end our month with leak free pipes, leaky windows, rain gutters full of leaves, and Sea Dreams sitting in the driveway instead of out on the river. But, I guess life could be much worse.
I could be working for Senator John McCain’s campaign.