BY NORBERT RUG
I ran a handyman type business part-time for 35 years until health problems caused me to quit. I put an ad in the paper for just one week and was as busy until the day I closed it out. It surprised me that I would be so busy but in retrospect I now know why.
My customers would pass my name around to their friends and family because I treated them like I wanted to be treated. Apparently, this concept has gone the way of black and white television and rotary dial telephones. I have now reached the age where I am the one that needs some help.
I sided my house several years ago but a wind storm caused one piece to come loose. I called several people and the first person that showed up nailed it back up with the nail heads showing, but the next windstorm we had the nails pulled thru the siding, leaving holes. So he went on the “S” list and tried again.
One man showed up in the back seat of a car driven by a relative. He looked over the job and asked if I had a ladder to get up there. What? You don’t have a ladder? He then said would have to go on the internet to see how to do the repairs I needed. Another entry to “the list”. Finally, I had a man from Lancaster do the job and he did it the right way. It hasn’t blown off since.
One day, the automatic garage door opener stopped working. Investigation revealed that the underground wiring I had installed over thirty years ago had shorted out. Because I had a concrete patio installed right over the in-ground conduit, I decided to call an electrical contractor to install a new underground feed. They dug up my yard, burrowed under the sidewalk and put the new wiring into the back of my garage instead of the side where I had originally installed it.
Shortly after that, after it had snowed, my wife came into the house and asked if there should be sparking where the old wiring entered the garage wall. I looked out the window and saw that the siding was melted and had black marks on it. I quickly ran to the basement and shut off the circuit breaker before my garage and two inside vehicles burned up. If it wasn’t for the fact that there was snow piled up against the wall, I probably would have lost the building and my cars.
Seeing as they were a licensed electrical contractor, I never inspected the job they had done. I figured they would do it right and to code. Wrong! My investigation of this problem revealed the old wiring had never been disconnected and they didn’t install the National Electrical Code required to disconnect. So I called them and read them the riot act including quoting the specific code they violated when they wired my garage.
I told them they had two choices. The first one was fixing the problems including replacing the burned and melted siding or I would report them. They were out the next day to repair the wiring.
I needed my gutters cleaned. I called several people that were recommended on Facebook but only one showed up. I would have called them Curley, Larry and Moe but I think Moe was still in prison. They did do what I asked. They cleaned the gutters but left the downspouts as plugged tight as a duck’s arse. I didn’t find this out until the next time it rained and they all overflowed. My list is getting longer.
I wanted my exterior doors replaced. They had been here since 1919 and they wouldn’t close in the summer and leaked so bad in the winter that the breeze would blow out a candle. One person showed up, a large company that advertises on the television. They gave me a price but because my doors were oversize doors, they would only install a standard door leaving a 4” gap at the top for me to deal with. I am running out of paper. Finally, I found a person to do what I wanted. Replace 2 doors, two storm doors and all for the low, low price of $6000.
I wanted a digital thermostat installed in my master bedroom suite. So again I went to Facebook for suggestions. A man contacted me and we agreed he would come over the next day. When he arrived, he had our new thermostat and his tools in a plastic “Tee shirt” bag.
I left the room and sat in the living room when I heard a zap, saw sparks and all the lights went out in the bedroom. So I got up to see if he was laying on the floor. Four and a half hours later, after several zaps, damns and f-bombs and after he reinstalled the old thermostat that was not working now, I told him to go home. He took some of the pieces with him and left a pile of spare parts. My list gets even longer.
It was cold that night and it’s going to be cold for a few more nights. We still have no heat.
Norb is a writer from Lockport, NY.