My driveway is on it's last legs - not that it has legs although when the person in a contractor's office asked "and what is the location of your driveway this morning?" I began to wonder. Legs or not it's rapidly moving into a state of major collapse. It must date from 1983 with a coat of sealer slopped on between then and now. "How bad are the potholes" one kindly man asked via phone. "Not big enough to lose the dog in" I joked. He was silent, musing. "How many cracks?" - lord, I haven't counted them. Finally I said "lots". More silence, I could hear the $ sign lighting up.
I called four companies for estimates and advice. Two responded, the other two have vanished into thin air. One of the silent ones had great difficulty taking down information. Three times she asked me to spell my name - and I happen to speak slowly and clearly - she asked for my phone number. I gave her my cell number. She asked for my cell number. "That's the number I just gave to you". "No", she said "It's in the line marked home number". I gave up, repeated my cell number. Pause. "Did You know your cell and your home number are the same -cool".
I don't suffer from the paranoia that all contractors are hell bent on cheating people, jacking up prices for women customers and taking advantage of buyer's ignorance. I like to believe that 90 percent of the people I deal with are honest; I treat people who can supply a service to me with respect and I value good service. Why then, in this supposedly down economy, is it so difficult to get a call back for a job that is not insignificant. I built my previous business on customer service - it was the gold standard by which employees were measured. In this internet , twitterfied world, a negative comment can reach thousands in a matter of minutes.
My house is a money pit of sorts and I've had need of a lot of skilled help solving problems. I like to rely on referrals from people I know. A favorite source of referral is a handy man I have come to trust and rely upon. Theo, in his work, sees all sorts of jobs being done and is more than willing to share the names of the good guys or in the case of my driveway, the good "gals". Within 3 hours of calling and spot on time, the first contractor to respond was a woman who has taken over her dad's business; prompt, courteous and not afraid to get her hands dirty. I like that in anyone!
I don't mind getting my own hands dirty and tackling jobs that are not death defying nor require several years of trade school. I've never had a "handy" husband so frequently I was the one to oil hinges, apply caulking, tighten screws. I take pride in not being helpless. It's a real world out there and white knights few and far between, especially ones with all the right stuff! I taught my daughter basic home fixing skills along with my boys - I don't think we women can afford to sit back, simper and say "oh, that's a man's job". What we can all do is maintain our homes in the same way that we maintain strength and flexibility. Regular "well house" checks can save future grief. I wish I could say that I had an organised tool drawer - truth be known it's a bit of a "what the heck" set up. Small steps though, I'm following Lorie Marrero's tips for empowering myself through organisation - slow process but inch by inch.
So decision time is close. Do I go with a quick fix that will last for a couple of years or bite the bullet and go for a major job - total new driveway. Given the economy I'm leaning towards the quick fix.
Unbiased referrals are special - we're looking for your recommendations on sunscreens in this month's connectionsforwomen, tell us what you like, or don't like. Meanwhile back to the sweat shop - can't seem to cool my study down. I'm heading for the hills again tomorrow and a blissful 90F! Meanwhile I need to check the potholes to see if I can find the dog - and my car!
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