Wednesday, December 28, 2011

You Know It Don't Come Easy

The man who rents space on my neighbor's front lot to store his junk vehicles has been showing up at 4:00 PM almost every afternoon to rev the engines on those vehicles while he "restores" them.  I've been especially irritated by this since I've been sick and can't get any rest with his engine vibrating our walls.  The other day I went out with my camera to film just how loud and obnoxious this disruption is, so that I could include a YouTube link to it in my complaint to the county.  Of course, he shut down his engine as soon as I walked outside with my camera, so I didn't get my evidence.

My husband says the reason why these neighbors are so annoying is because nothing comes easy to them.  They can't make money in the traditional ways, so they are always coming up with ways to rent out their land to strangers or to use it to sell junk to strangers.  They've learned that it's too much work to board animals, so now they are concentrating on renting out the space for storage and to vehicle restoration hobbyists.  Apparently, all that land they own is the only thing of value they have to work with.

The neighbors' vehicles and their renters' vehicles are constantly breaking down because they can't afford to buy new vehicles, and they can't afford to tow them to a shop, so they spend weeks working on them in their yard.  My husband was trying to appeal to my sense of pity, but my argument is that if they didn't buy so many used junk vehicles, I'll bet these people could buy one newish vehicle that would last a while.  Who needs a dozen cars, trucks, boats and trailers?  Even if someone is a car restoration hobbyist, you can really only restore one or two cars at a time.  Why have a dozen others just littering the neighborhood?  Men and their junk cars are almost as bad as women and their fabric stashes.  I am better at buying fabrics than I am at sewing them into quilts, but at least they don't take up as much space as vehicles, and they are a lot quieter.

Ultimately, this is a residential neighborhood, yet these neighbors continually behave as if it is an industrial district by playing around with engines and running power tools day in and day out.  It has to end.  There are laws about disturbing the peace.  If these neighbors can't respect our right to peace and quiet, then I have no qualms with making their lives a little more difficult.  They need to figure out ways to make money that don't involve making noise, increasing traffic, and piling junk up on their property.

Yesterday every time I let the dogs outside, they barked.  When I opened the door I heard children's voices nearby.  It turned out that my annoying neighbors had a bunch of strangers and their kids over at their house all day, and the adults allowed these kids to run around the horse corrals unsupervised.  They also allowed them to ride their boarder's horses, probably without permission.  That's an accident and lawsuit waiting to happen.  I cringed to think about what all those kids were doing to my own horses over the fence, but I was too sick to go out in the freezing cold to investigate.  It just annoys me that these neighbors are so lonely that they have to have dozens of people over at their house every day.  When I'm 85 years old, I'll probably be too tired and worn out to entertain that many people.  I'm too tired to entertain that many people now.  In fact, all the guests they have running around the neighborhood exhaust me.

I'm getting a bit fearful and skeptical about taking on new home improvement projects, because so often I end up taking one step forward and two steps back.  It astounds me how much work I can put into something and make it worse than it was had I not done anything to it in the first place.  One would think there should be some reward for hard work, but things keep happening to me that teach me that I'm better off doing nothing.

I spent two days painting the crown molding in the bathroom with a paint that was labeled "Ultra Pure White" only to find out after it dried that it was the yellow paint (that was supposed to be beige) that we put on the walls.  So, basically I would have been better off to not paint the trim at all, because before I painted it, it was actually white, just a bit thin with some water stains.  So, now I have to go to the paint store and make sure I actually have white paint, and start over from scratch.

Hiring the handyman has been both a blessing and a curse.  First off, he was supposed to be done with the job of fixing up both my kitchen and my studio in 4 days.  Now he's saying that it will take 7 to 8 days just to finish the work in the studio, so I had to cancel my photography session this week.  I need a break from his constant presence, so I'm postponing the work I hired him to do in the kitchen.

He was offended and asked why I was "kicking him out."  I told him about the things I need to do that I can't do as long as he's hanging around.  He needs to realize that I have a life and can't just sit at home all day for weeks on end while he takes his sweet time doing projects around my house.  I still haven't even hooked up my horse trailer to my truck and tested out the tow package, because his truck is always in the way.

Also, he estimated it would cost us about $1,140 to work on both the studio and kitchen, and we've already had to pay him that much, and he's still got two more days of work at $40 an hour on the studio alone.  So, that teaches me that his time and money estimates are worthless.

Although, I know I am to blame for yesterday's problem, because he needed all the doors and windows to be open to dry the putty on the ceiling, and with my cold and chills, I closed everything up so that I wouldn't get sicker.  As a result, the putty didn't dry.  Had he forewarned me that the job would require leaving doors and windows open in the below freezing temperatures, I would have postponed the job until spring.  We are trying to fix that problem by running a fan in the room and pointing it at the ceiling.

It's really weird being sick and in bed or on the couch covered in blankets and having this guy walking in and out of my bedroom and den asking me questions.  I tried locking the back door so that he couldn't get in and would just have to stay in the studio and do his work, but then he kept coming to the front door and knocking, which made my dogs go nuts and Scrappy totally attacked him again, this time biting right through his jeans, when he walked in the door.  He won't give me time to put the dogs away in a room or out back.  He just knocks and then barges in.  Even my dogs have the sense to know that's not right.  That's why they attack him.  The guy crosses our boundaries.  I decided that the commotion from having him knock on the front door was worse than him sneaking in the back door, so I started leaving the back door unlocked again.

I just want the guy to do his job and leave me alone, but he always has to make such a big production out of it, asking me to check his work after every phase to make sure it is to my satisfaction.  That's nice, and a good way to assure that he'll get a good review online, but I wish he could just let me rest and have me check everything when it's all done at the end of each day.

Also, the guy keeps asking me to make decisions about details, and then when I make my decision, he challenges it and argues with me.  Day after day he rehashes the same topics.  I choose a color of stain for the deck, and he argues against it.  So, I choose the other color, just because I'm sick and tired and want to get away from the guy.  Then he has to question me on whether or not I'm sure.  I tell him I really don't care about the color, I just want the job done.  Then he won't finish the job until I choose a color and stick to it.  I get angrier and angrier, and tell him to flip a friggin' coin and choose any damn color.  I don't care.  Just get the job done.  I think the subject is closed, and then the guy shows up the next morning and sucks up an hour of my time rehashing that same argument.  He's also one of these people who finishes a conversation, and before you can completely walk away, he says, "Oh, and one more thing..."  It's maddening.  It's almost impossible for me to get my chores done when he's around, because he keeps talking and won't let me get back to work.

I have different sensibilities from most people because I'm a writer.  Alone time is like gold to me, so when people take it away from me, I feel like I'm being drained.  My other frustration is that my kids are only home for a few weeks, a few days in the case of my daughter, over the holiday break, and I want to go out and do things with them once we get healthy, but by the looks of it I'll be stuck at home because the handyman will be here until my daughter leaves.  Of course, he says I can trust him with a key to my house, but I don't trust anyone after having people stealing things from my mother's house when I gave them keys to take care of the place while I was gone.  Even though I felt really ill yesterday, I took my daughter out to lunch after the handyman left, so we could have some girl time.  I did feel a lot better after having some orange juice and a tuna melt made by someone other than me.

The handyman kept commenting on how crappy my neighbors' place looks and how rude it is that they park all their junk vehicles right up against my fence.  He said we'll need to put up something to block that view when we sell the house.  I told him I planned on erecting a wall, but he warned me that even walls get knocked down by our hurricane-force winds.  I'll have to settle for something with holes in it to let the air flow through.  That was disappointing to hear.  Things with holes in them just offer my nosy neighbors peep holes to peer through.

At first he wanted to go over there and offer them some help in cleaning up their place, but then he said, "Actually, when a place gets that bad it usually means they don't have any money."

I noticed my nosy neighbors had come out to listen in our conversation, so I spoke louder. 

The handyman keeps finding other things around our house for him to do to keep himself employed, and a part of me wants to tell him to just go for it and fix everything, but another part of me has to stick to a budget and get some alone time.  I did let him fix a sliding glass door that wasn't sliding anymore.  I had to open it with the force of my entire body.  Now I can slide it open and closed with my pinky finger.  That was one improvement I hadn't even considered that is already making my life so much easier.

When I've had jobs, I got paid once every two-weeks.  This guy wants to be paid every two days.  He says that since he doesn't know me well, he doesn't trust me to pay him in full when the job is done.  Is that weird or what?  I suspect he knows the bill is going to be double the amount of his estimate, and he doesn't want me refusing to pay in full since his estimate was so far off.  I do refuse to pay him in advance, because I don't want him skipping out on a job that's half done.  I don't know why simple things always have to turn into such a headache.  At the rate things are going, I'm going to have to order more checks soon.

For future home improvement projects, I'll probably try someone else who will just do the job without having to get me so heavily involved.  It bugs me that this guy can't just view this as a business relationship.  He always has to take everything personally.  He tries to manipulate me, and I've caught him in several lies.  You know that when a person has to repeat how honest he is dozens of times, he's lying to himself.  Whenever I point out a problem like the fact that he didn't use a drop cloth and ruined my brand new carpet, the guy says unstable things like, "Well, I can always go work for someone else and you can hire that other contractor who couldn't get out here until a month from now."

This guy actually sent me to the hardware store to buy him some parts that he forgot while I was busy juggling the tasks of writing my novel, doing laundry, mucking out stalls, and cooking dinner.  I ended up having to get my husband and kids to deal with the chores when they were sick while I went to the hardware store.  Of course, the hardware store only had one of the two parts, so I had to go to a second store, which didn't have what he needed either.  He wanted me to drive into the city, an hour round trip, and I put my foot down and told him to do it himself in the morning.  He apologized profusely the next day.  He said he told his wife what he did, and she chewed him out for making a client do something that the client is paying him to do.  I wished his wife had his skills because she sounds like someone I would like to hire.

Ultimately, people hire other people to do things that they themselves don't have time to do, so if the person you hire takes up more of your time than the job would have had you done it yourself, then you need to reconsider your approach.  This seems to be one of those karmic events I can't get away from.  Almost every time I hire someone to help me, the person ends up being more of a hindrance than a help.  I try training them until I'm blue in the face, but I always end up with these people who are better at talking than they are at listening, so training becomes impossible.  Sigh.  If I can't find anyone else, it looks like I may have to take the road of a Do-It-Yourselfer, which is what I was hoping to avoid.  However, if it buys me some quiet time, it will pay for itself.


Mikey said...

I hear you on needing the quiet time. It's impossible to get, and PRECIOUS. The last 3 days have been insane here. Every single time I sit down, I have to get up again for something. I want to write, dang it. I can't even get a blog post up!
This guy though. OMG. He ruined your carpet? And made you go look for parts? HELL NO. But I know it's hard to find someone competent to do the work. Sigh. I can't wait till you move! I still have to answer your email! *slaps forehead*

Deanna said...

I know this must be miserable for you - but omGosh! Your dry wit makes it such enjoyable reading!! I'm sitting here feeling guilty for all the snickering I do as I read of your misfortunes. I do hope you feel better soon! I know I do (winter blues were getting me down) but today I will be chuckling throughout the day . . .
-(fabric) is "a lot quieter." BaHahaha . . .
-"neighbors had come out to listen in on our conversation, so I spoke louder."
You just totally crack me up!
I hope you have a great day and I sincerely thank you for making mine better!! ~Dea

Once Upon an Equine said...

Love the analogy between men and their fixer-upper cars and women and their fabric stash (in my case a yarn stash). Yes, much easier to hide a fabric stash in a closet than a car. sounds miserable to have a bunch of broken down cars and mechanics hanging around next door a lot. I will be very happy for you when you can move. Hope you are feeling better very soon.

Katharine Swan said...

That handyman sounds like he doesn't understand the concept of boundaries, and in more ways than just wanting to come in the back door to ask you questions. Asking you to do HIS job and go to the store for parts is totally unprofessional.

Asking to be paid every couple of days, however, I understand. As a freelance writer, I am also a contractor, and the rule of thumb in the writing industry is to make new clients pay for a third or half of a big job up front before you even start work. I've had clients who didn't want to do that, so I asked that they pay me in smaller increments initially, until I knew them well enough to know they were good for a lump payment. That part's not weird at all, although if he's been working for you for a couple of weeks now (and I think he has) you could suggest that you start paying him at the end of each week, since he knows now that your checks are good.

Linda said...

Interesting. My husband absolutely refuses to let anyone in our house to do a project for those exact reasons. When we moved here, five years ago, my husband almost unloaded the entire truck by himself because he didn't like the looks of the crew the moving company hired. He just put most of it all in the garage and then we spent months (years) going through it. Sometimes I get tired of doing all the projects ourselves, but maybe he's right.

achieve1dream said...

Jeez that guy sounds annoying! If I were in that situation I would tell him I'm not paying him to talk and only pay for the hours that he's actually using his hand . . . he is a handyman after all!! What an idiot. I'm beginning to think only crazy or stupid people live in your area. I can't wait for you to be able to get out of there.