Jewish World Review Dec. 9, 2005/ 8 Kislev, 5766

Greg Crosby

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Consumer Reports

It can't be done

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | As a homeowner I learned a long time ago that what comes with the territory is the fact that stuff needs fixing all the time. A pipe leaks, a chimney has to be cleaned, a hot water heater has to be replaced. Fair enough. What I've been going through lately, however, is a new kind of frustration - the frustration of having workmen come over to fix things, and when they leave, the things are not fixed. This has been happening more and more in the last few years, and now it has gotten to the point that it is just about guaranteed that if I pay someone to come over to do something, it won't get done, or it won't be done correctly.


Usually the thing that needed fixing is just as broken when the repairman leaves and sometimes even in worst shape. A recent example was when we had a handyman come to the house to do three things: 1. fix a leaky sprinkler; 2. fix sliding closet doors that stick; 3. repair or replace a broken outside light fixture. He spent about two hours at our place and when he was finished he handed me a bill, I wrote him a check, and nothing was fixed.


1. He actually stopped the sprinkler from leaking because he said (after digging up the area around the sprinkler head for about forty-five minutes) that he couldn't really repair the thing so he just capped it and suggested that I call a plumber. The next day, the underground pipe busted completely and started flooding the yard. I called a sprinkler man who ultimately repaired the broken pipes and replaced the sprinkler head.


2. After a lot of jiggling and tightening and sanding and mumbling, I admit he did improve the sliding doors a bit, but not really too much. You certainly wouldn't regard them as in perfect working/sliding order. But they were better than before.


3. He borrowed my stepladder to get a look at the light fixture that needed replacing and he put in a new bulb. The new bulb didn't work any better than the old one, but of course I already knew that the problem wasn't a burned out bulb, the fixture needed replacing. He decided that he really wasn't equipped to do that job either. He recommended that I call an electrician. I did.


Then there's the adventure of the crook that sold me the wooden window blinds and won't make good on fixing a tiny plastic bracket that broke which is needed to hold the valance in place on at the top of the blinds. After numerous phone calls and empty promises to come by and pick up the piece, we finally took a ride out to his place of business and I handed him the broken bracket. He said he would find a replacement piece for us and get right back to us. This was a couple of months ago and we're still waiting. Meanwhile, my wife got some Velcro and we attached it to the valance and to the strip of metal above the shades. It's fine now. All fixed. The temptation to drive back over to this weasel's store and do some wooden blind instillation of my own on this guy is overwhelming but my wife won't let me.


Recently we bought a new dishwasher and the guys who the store recommended we use to install the appliance, couldn't do it right. After waiting literally all day for them to arrive, (it was one of those "we'll be there between 10: am and 2: pm" deals and they got there at about 4:30) they finally came and after spending a couple of hours installing it, they left. Oh, it was connected and everything, the only problem was that whenever you turned on the faucet at the sink, the water ran out of the pipes underneath and all over the kitchen floor. Other than that, they did a great job.


The moral of this story is, don't break anything unless you a) can fix it yourself; or b) can afford to spend a lot of time and money getting the thing fixed properly. And don't buy anything new that needs to be installed if you can possibly avoid it. And, oh yes, stay away from smarmy wooden blind salesmen - especially short runts who are balding and answer to the name of Marve.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2005 Greg Crosby