It seemed as if we had things under control for the time being. I am always hesitant to make comments like that because it just seems to jinx things.
I had completed the interior demo of the wall between the kitchen and dining room. The carpet had been pulled up and staples removed and the floor sanding had been completed.
All the interior painting, and plaster repair had been completed. I had picked up all the kitchen cabinets from a local home improvement store along with the custom cut counter top. All of this material had been unpacked and waited for the carpenter to come and began his installation.
This was the only uncertainty I really felt. My carpenter had been very irritable and increasingly more unreliable. I had already made up my mind this would be the last job I would ever hire him to do. I just wanted to get through this one and move on. The kitchen cabinets installation and counter top wasn’t that big of a job. I simply had no experience in installing cabinets or counter tops. I also was very aware of the major inconvenience that this was causing Ms. D. She was forced to live amongst this remodeling while it was being done. Time was of critical importance. So far, she seemed to be doing ok with all the commotion, dust, and inconveniences.
All the major work had been completed. This included the plumbing, new electrical and tile floors. All of this work went off with out a hitch. The only real major job left was the kitchen.
After two cancellations and a lot of pleading from me the carpenter finally showed up. He seemed very edgy and in a very foul mood. I just tried to stay out of his way. He seemed much slower than usual doing his work. I just figured he was tired. He finally got the few base cabinets in position and installed. He started on the counter top and all of a sudden I hear a lot of loud cursing. I went to find out what was the matter. He was staring at the custom counter top. He had cut it wrong and it didn’t fit. He was blaming me for a wrong measurement. I tried to explain that I just bought a section long enough to cover the top and that it was his job to field-measure, confirm, cut and install.
He wanted to find someone to blame and I guess that person was me.
I suggested he take a break and regain his composure. All this did was set him off. I then became his object of a lecture about how long he had been in the business and didn’t need so rookie telling him what to do or how to do it. I could tell this was a no-win situation. I thought maybe if I just left him alone to cool down he would be ok after a little while. After his lecture he said that he needed to get paid that day and also required an advance.
“I have a lot on my mind and need the money,” he went on. “You will have to reorder the counter top anyway and when it arrives I will come and install it.”
I told him that I felt uncomfortable with giving him an advance and was concerned about any delays. I reaffirmed that it was imperative that we keep things moving forward as it was a major inconvenience for Ms. D to live amongst this construction. He said, “I don’t give a shit about her! I have my own problems.” Then he proceeded to tell me that if he didn’t get paid for the day, plus a one thousand dollar advance, he wouldn’t return. He also informed me that he would file a lien against the property. From my training as a para-legal, I wasn’t worried about the lien as I knew he didn’t have firm legal grounds. However I didn’t want Ms D to become worried about this or have to go to court to fight it.
At this point I had pretty much decided that no amount of talking was going to do any good. He clearly had made up his mind and was in no mood to discuss it. He didn’t even seem rational. I had never seen him so agitated.
As he packed up his tools he demanded, “So what’s it going to be?”
“Well I’m unprepared to pay you the complete advance because it’s Sunday and I don’t have access to that kind of cash,” I responded.
“How much do you have?” he said.
“Besides what I own you for today’s wages, I might be able to scrape up five hundred dollars,” I answered. I suggested that we could meet tomorrow night and he could complete the job and I would have the cash.
He snapped back, “That’s a custom counter top and they won’t have it for at least a week, maybe two.”
I suggested that I could talk to Ms. D and she might be open to picking a stock color that would be in stock. He lashed out and said, “I don’t give a damn I told you. What’s it going to be?”
I could hear Ms. D coming and I didn’t want to get her involved or upset in this problem. I told the carpenter, “Alright, come over to my shop in a few minutes and I will see what, in terms of cash, that I can come up with to pay you.
Against my better judgment I paid him his wages and a five hundred dollar advance. He took the money and left.
The following day I attempted to call him but only got his voice mail on his cell phone. This was unusual. I left a message for him that Ms. D had chosen a stock color and I had already picked the counter top up and it was ready for installation.
I never heard back. I attempted couple times every day to reach him. No luck. I even left a message with his kids for him to please give me a call.
In the meantime I had almost completed everything else and all that was left was the kitchen. I had been making up excuses for the carpenter whenever Ms. D asked. Time was running out and I simply had no more excuses for him. I was getting very nervous and pretty much determined that I had been taken. Although I don’t like to be taken for five hundred dollars, it wouldn’t kill me. I was more concerned about being left high and dry with a half installed kitchen. I didn’t know anyone else who I could hire to finish it off. I also was very concerned about the delays. I knew that even if I found someone else to do the work it would cost me double as no-one likes to come into the middle of someone else’s job or mess and try to straighten it out. I was really down.
On the seventh day of his being absent, without even as much as a call, I was about to give up, but decided to try calling one more time . His wife answered the phone, I explained who I was and that I was concerned about him and was wondering when he might be coming back. His wife said, “I don’t know or care. I kicked him out. Ask his new girl friend or probation agent.
“Probation agent?” I answered with surprise.
“Yes,” she said, “He’s back on drugs and he tested positive for Meth and that was a violation of his probation. He will have to go back and serve his previous sentence.”
I was stunned. I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say. I thanked her for the information and hung up.
The say the mother of all invention is necessary. They weren’t kidding.
All I could think of was, yesterday I could barely spell carpenter and somehow tomorrow I will become one.
“This can’t really be happening; can it?” I remember thinking.
Yes it was.
I felt panic for a moment.
Then I went numb.
copy write all rights reserved D. Jerzak 03-08-07