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Charlie Hatton
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Contractorally Obligated

There’s something to be said for home contractors.

Nothing that’s printable here, mind you. But still. Something.

We’re having some work done on our place this week. In the sense that it was originally scheduled to begin in early August, we’re well behind schedule. In the other sense — it was originally scheduled to begin in early August, but these are home contractors we’re talking about — we’re probably ahead of the game. The work has begun before we’re eligible for Social Security benefits, so who’s to complain? Not I.

Not before the job is finished, anyway. I’m in no position to count any chickens right now. Or soon. I’ll count my chickens when the mortar has set, the paint has dried and the tarps have been cleared away. Basically, around the time Colonel Sanders dumps his herbs and spices on the chickens’ delicious dismembered carcasses.

Meanwhile, there’s work happening. The lead guy — of two — on the project is actually quite pleasant. Eastern European, in his 50s, maybe, seems very easygoing and knowledgeable and was happy to talk me through his plan.

(Which is part of the guy’s charm, I think. He speaks and parses English quite well, with a moderate accent — and just enough occasional word scrambling to be endearing. Like:

You can give me a key to the door for entrancing?

It’s a bit of fun, and many orders of magnitude better than I could muster in his native language, or any other.

I still want to ask him if his hovercraft is full of eels. I’m not proud. I just can’t help it.)

This contractor also likes to begin work at seven in the morning, as I found out today. Which is super, really. Good for him; he’s an early-rising go-getter.

“I also prefer not to take emergency twelve-second showers in the guest bathroom, using Dial soap as shampoo and drying off on a hand towel of uncertain origin.”

Me, I prefer to sleep at seven in the morning — as, I suppose, he found out, too. I also prefer not to take emergency twelve-second showers in the guest bathroom, using Dial soap as shampoo and drying off on a hand towel of uncertain origin. Maybe that’s just me. Anyway, it makes for an interesting start to the week.

He has a helper — who didn’t show up until 7:15, the slacker! — and apparently the two of them are going to manage the whole project here over the next couple of days.

Or weeks. Or geologic epochs. I mean, I like these guys, but they are home contractors, after all.

Of course, I don’t have any control over how long it takes. Nor do I know all the details involved, so I couldn’t really push back if — okay, when — the project gets delayed. These guys are taking out a big window, and replacing it with a door. If I were doing it myself, it would likely take fourteen years, give or take a quarter. Or it would take three hours, catch on fire soon after, and the building would collapse around it.

These guys say they’ll be done within the week — because contractors always say they’ll be done within the week. They should just write it on their business cards, and be done with it. Put in a door? We’ll do it in a week. Rebuild a porch? That’s about a week. Put up a gazebo on nine-foot stilts that rotates like a merry-go-round and paint it to look like the Sistine Chapel ceiling?

Give it four days. A week, tops. In case there’s weather.

Some of these jobs finish in a week. Others get finished by sons or grandsons of the head contractor who weren’t yet conceived when the mythical “week” came and went. Which will our job be? No idea. How much say do I have? None. What can I do about it? Bupkis.

(Is being married good practice for dealing with such situations? Yes.)

(Sorry, that’s not fair. What I meant to say was:

Yes, dear.)

So tonight, I set the alarm for six AM, in the hopes of looking vaguely human when the contractors return tomorrow. Unlike today, when I resembled a particularly feeble ground sloth with a speech impediment and soapy hair.

Also, they’ll probably come at noon tomorrow. Just to mess with my head. Because they can.

What fun would being a contractor be otherwise?

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