May 09, 2010

Finding Mr. Right

After almost a quarter century in our home, Jan and I decided that this was the year to replace the windows. Sure, it's been fun watching moisture develop in between the panes, and completely dismantling them when we want to clean them ... and most of all holding a lighted match by one of them in a windstorm and watching it blow out.

But you can only have so much fun, and before we are awakened in the middle of the night by a crash as our bedroom window falls out of it's moorings and hits the patio below (this actually happened to one of our neighbors), we decided to have all of the windows replaced.

One of the hardest parts of starting a home improvement project, unless you do it yourself (bad idea), is to find the right person to do the job.  Personally, I'd rather have teeth pulled than to do this, but since it's unlikely to have someone show up at your door unannounced and volunteer, it's absolutely necessary.  People have asked me how I pick the contractors I use to work on my home, and the answer is simple.  I pull out the phone book and look for a name I like.  This has worked amazingly well for us up to this point.

For the windows, I decided to stay away from the ads by the window biggies ... Andersen, Pella, Feldco, etc.  The reason is simple.  I don't know who is going to install them, and I want a concrete person and address so that if things go to shit, I have a physical place to burn down and piss on the ashes. Hopefully, it never comes to that, but it makes me feel better just knowing.

This past week, I called three construction companies to schedule times for estimates.  The first place never returned my call, the second did, as did the third one. The third guy, we'll call him "Lester", I wasn't to sure about.  He sounded like he didn't have his teeth in and it took me a good minute to make sure that he had the address right.

On Saturday, guy #2 shows up.  He asked us what kind of windows we wanted and if we had a preferred brand.  He took the measurements outside, made sure he had my e-mail address, and sent me the estimate within 5 hours.

And then Lester called.  He had lost our address, and even though his residence was only one town over and had lived in the area over 50 years, he wasn't sure where our village was, even though it was incorporated in 1956. After 5 minutes of detailed street-by-street, turn-by-turn directions, I hung up and waited.

And waited.  After an hour, I looked out the front window and saw a van parked at the end of the street, with a befuddled looking old man standing in the street staring at our street marker.  Figuring that this was Lester, I walked out in the driveway and whistled at him. After a short pause, he seemed to get the idea that I was the person he was looking for.

Lester was about a hundred years old.  He lectured us for about 15 minutes on how nobody puts in windows right anymore, and then proceeded to measure the individual panes of every fucking window in the house, even though they were all the same size.

After collecting his measurements, he told us that we would be able to use all of the same trim on the inside and the outside of house, because he wouldn't have to remove it.  Sensing that Lester and I weren't on the same page, I asked him just what part of the window unit he planned to replace, and he replied "just the panes".  After explaining exactly what I perceived a window replacement to consist of, Lester took his rule and measured every fucking window a second time and departed ... after two hours.

Now, if this were a warm-hearted story, you would know that I would pick Lester to replace our windows.  But the fact is, I wouldn't let that befuddled old sod replace a light bulb in the house, little alone an integral part of it.

Maybe this phone book thing has some glitches in it after all.

1 comment:

  1. Hmpf. Sounds like age discrimination to me. Just because he doesn't know what he's doing and he's highly annoying...that's no reason not to give him several thousand dollars.