The headline is not an ad for sexual variety but rather a plea for people of any gender who actually do what they say they are going to do. And in return, I will pay them handsomely for their dependability. But even the lure of cold hard cash does not seem to warm the engines of many workers in general, but specifically, for the purpose of this diatribe, those hired to improve your home.
Take our painter. We hired him to refresh parts of our summer cottage following the beating it took during this past miserable New England winter.
“How big a job is it,” my husband asked.
“4 days. Tops,” was the answer.
Super. We were to be away for 3 weeks so we, reasonably, looked forward to seeing upon our return, if not a masterpiece worthy of Michelangelo, at least a finished product.
“I am getting an oil change,” our painter texted the day before we came back.
“I still have a few things to finish at the house,” he added.
Really ? How did 4 days morph into almost 4 weeks? And more importantly, what kind of guy admits he had no time to finish a “4 days tops” project but was able to carve out a couple of hours for a personal automotive non emergency?
Then the next day he explained by phone that while at the cottage, he had had a little accident which involved a can of paint and an unintended target. He promised it would be corrected asap “at no charge, of course.” Twice he bemoaned the state of his paint stained slacks, suspecting, incorrectly may I add, that that would soften my irritation at a job not done.Then, perhaps to convince me of his commitment to remedying the mistake, he promised to work on his day off.
“I could come on Sunday?” he eagerly suggested. “But most people don’t want anyone around on a Sunday,” he added with undisguised hope.
“Not me“ I said. “Can’t wait to see you.” And wait I did. Until it was clear that, true to form, he wasn’t showing at all.
“What time were you planning on arriving?”I asked over the phone later that Sunday.
“Oh, I went to get the equipment from my friend and it’s broken. Can you believe it?”
“And this being Sunday,” he continued, “nobody is open to fix it.”
How long would I have sat in on a Sunday before he decided to give me a ring and his laundry list of excuses?
Clearly he must think we are pushovers. And why wouldn’t he? He was recommended to us by another unreliable, but talented contractor we hired who took all winter (that’s 6 months) to complete the equivalent of a simple window replacement. The apple does not fall far from the tree as they say. But his excuses, when he made them, were at least creative. Death, trips to Vegas, golf games, poor internet and phone service all factored into the “executive excuse package” manufactured to explain uncompleted work. An improvement for sure on “I’m getting an oil change.”
Excuses are failures.
Simple as that.
And after the first one, they become lies.
I can’t tell if it is laziness, a disorganized mind, lack of prioritizing or over scheduling that has resulted in the contractor related disasters we have experienced. After polite entreaties failed to yield better performance in one instance we resorted to “shaming.”
“You are the worst contractor I have ever known,” my husband spewed once to an incorrigible tradesman. “I’m sorry,” he offered. “I have had a lot going on,” he added.
I am not alone in my disappointment with builders. When asked, “Why contractors are so unreliable,” Google offered up 862,000 results.
But of course, poor work ethics are not limited to house contractors.
A friend of mine is shocked at one of his fellow employees who has already taken all of her vacation days, sick days, holidays and personal days despite being only half way through the calendar year. Yet she is mystified about why she has not been promoted.
Forbes Magazine took at look at how many employees, in general, underperform. “More than a third of companies are so dysfunctional,” the magazine wrote, “the best people don’t really care about what they’re doing and the worst people don’t know that they are doing a lousy job.”
Which may explain our contractor’s comment once our frustrating, expensive and much delayed construction project was finally done: “Well, it was worth the wait, wasn’t it?”