I don’t profess to be perfect in anything I undertake but I make a determined effort in that direction. I take pride in my work and I believe I have every right to do so, the results speak for themselves. Yes I make mistakes and have botched up one or two things in the past but I have never left them that way, I make another attempt until I get it right. I always say if a job is worth doing it is worth doing right first time, it is just as easy to do things correctly as it is to do them incorrectly. The added advantage is not having to return to put things right. I have found lately that not everyone I have employed takes the same pride in their work and I suspect have not been competent in the first place.
A few months ago now I had purchased new curtains (drapes) for a room I was refurbishing and redecorating and waited eagerly for them to be fitted once my work had finished. On the appointed day the fitter arrived and began the work. I felt a little apprehensive as I didn’t think he was that competent. My feelings proved to be right for I had to intervene in what he was doing else end up with a shoddy job. It was all to do with the way the curtain rail was affixed to the wooden window surround. With a little help from myself he got the job done to my satisfaction. I should have arranged to fit them myself on reflection. More recently E’s nephew botched up the job I had employed him to do, raising part of the garage roof. It leaked because he hadn’t done it the way I had asked. I expect a builder to know what he is doing and not have to take instruction from me. I am not a builder. He had to return and do it again. When the fitters came to install the new garage door they went at it like a bull at a gate. I noticed the mistakes they were making along the way. It should have been a case of more haste less speed but it wasn’t. Their workmanship left a lot to be desired I have to say and I cringed at some of the work they had done, not enough screws where there should really have been, cables left dangling, no bushing of holes where cables passed through and so on. They weren’t electricians or engineers and it showed. They drilled access holes in the plastic body of the control unit using a drill bit only suitable for drilling wood! The bit ‘tore’ at the plastic which began to split. I wouldn’t mind but they had the proper drill bits for the job! I did some remedial work once they had departed. They were supposed to return to fit an alarm and to finish filling gaps with silicone but after a couple of weeks we had to get in touch with the company to remind them. The company sent another ‘engineer’ who fitted the alarm and filled in with silicone all where it was necessary. When he left I looked more closely at his work. I wasn’t impressed. I had installed a large wooden board to accommodate the fixing of the control equipment but this guy chose to screw the alarm unit to the brick wall above it without using wall plugs! Furthermore he had wired the unit into the main control panel passing the wires beneath the top cover housing the light. In the process he had severed the wires! I moved the alarm down to the board and fixed it there. I had to effect a repair to the wiring and cut a slot in the light cover so the wire would not be severed again. I have no idea why he had chosen to install the alarm as he did nor why he passed the wire beneath the light cover especially as there was plenty of space on the board and easier access to the wiring terminals from beneath the unit. He spoiled what was otherwise a good installation on his behalf.
I don’t know about you but I hate being kept waiting for anything. I get impatient when I have to rely on others who don’t have the same sense of urgency in their service to me. It could be anything, the doctor’s surgery, the dentist’s waiting room, any waiting room in fact. Worst of all is when I am on time but am kept waiting nevertheless. One of the worst offenders are the airports, ‘Flight number so and so has been delayed and is now expected to depart at’, how annoying when you have made the effort to arrive two hours early as is often suggested! I am a now person, I like to see things happening when I expect them to. I don’t want delays and excuses, I want definition and reliability and a little consistency doesn’t go amiss. In my work as an electrician I arrive at the agreed time and am only ever a little late if something unexpected happens, a traffic accident or hold-up for instance. I am invariably early for my appointments but even so being unexpectedly stuck in traffic can eat up the extra time I allow to get anywhere. I tell my customers that I will arrive on or about a certain time and I do. Waiting for others can be a pain. If I am expecting a delivery of some sort I like to know at least which half of the day it might arrive. ‘We will deliver on Tuesday but it will be up to the driver as to when we arrive’ is no good for it means I have to potentially wait in all day. If they can say the delivery will be in the morning or in the afternoon it is far better but even so the waiting is unbearable for me. I know I cannot expect service at precise times when too many factors can upset plans. Speaking of Tuesday, I was expecting the delivery of a dozen 3 x 2 (feet) paving slabs from my local merchant because I couldn’t carry all that weight in my little van, not all at once anyhow. I was told that the delivery would be made on Tuesday but at no specific time. This is a prime example of a poor service for me. They did arrive and were delivered at 3 o’clock. By three thirty I had moved them all the approximate distance of 40 metres through the garage to the rear of the other garage where they are to be laid in the Plot. They each weigh in the region of 65 to 70 Kg. needless to say I used a trolley! They are remarkably easy to manipulate as long as you know how to do it. Hardly any effort was required which was just as well because I was a little tired. Many things now are ordered on-line and deliveries are most often made the next day but the time of delivery is not always given which again means hanging around and not being able to get on with other things. As for the delivery of those paving slabs, I was prevented from doing any work in the Plot because I wouldn’t be able to hear the doorbell ring or the wagon arriving. The Plot is too far away from the front of the house. I suppose I shouldn’t complain at the opportunity to rest a while but that isn’t me, I like to get on with things. Sometimes I wish I was as laid-back as some are. E is a little like that, she never seems in a hurry to do anything. her motto would be it is better to arrive late than not at all whereas mine would be it is better not to arrive late and let people down.
On Tuesday I had resigned myself to having no work to do. It was a very blustery day, a mixture of rain, sunshine and high winds and although I would have to go out in it if a job request came through I was happy to be able to stay indoors if one didn’t. However I did have to go into the garden to place the green wheelie bin back where it is usually stored out there for the wind had graciously moved it somewhere else overnight! That was because there was little weight in it to stop it from moving. I should have placed a large stone in front of it to prevent the wind from moving it as I usually do if it is empty. Anyway whilst out in the garden I thought about the odd smell I had encountered inside my van when I used it the day before. I remembered that I have a small gas torch in there which might have been the cause of the smell so I investigated. Sure enough, the gas canister wasn’t tightly secured to the jet assembly but how that had happened is a bit of a mystery as I hadn’t used the torch for quite some time. I locked the van and went back indoors after securing the gas canister. A few minutes later I got a call from a lady living in the next town who seemed very desperate to have an electrical problem fixed. It was still only two in the afternoon and I was available. Essentially she had been fitting a new lamp shade to a ceiling fitting and had ‘blown the fuse’ as she put it. I told her how to rewire the fuse but she said she wasn’t capable to do it. I explained that I would have to charge her my minimum price to call there and fix it for her and that if her fuse had blown there must be a reason for it which would need investigating anyway. I drove there immediately and discovered that she had twisted the lamp holder so much whilst fitting the shade that the wiring inside had shorted the circuit. There were two old iron-clad fuse boxes fitted with re-wirable porcelain fuses and indeed one of those fuses had blown. I rewired it. The light flex would need to be replaced and to do that the ceiling rose (the same as shown above) would have to be opened. Unfortunately it was an old installation and the rose had been painted over so many times it had to be broken to disconnect the flex. That meant a new ceiling rose too. The old vulcanised rubber covered wiring in the ceiling was fortunately in good condition. Rubber insulation has a life expectancy of between 40 and 60 years in domestic situations and this wiring must have been around 60 years old. Rubber either becomes brittle, breaking off easily in the hand or it becomes sticky and elastic, equally as bad. This installation however was surprisingly good. It needed rewiring of course and I told the lady to consider having it done but for the time being the installation seemed safe enough. As usual in these cases where the installation is old the householder isn’t prepared to hear that or is ready to fork out the money to have it done. A new power supply panel is certainly required and would be installed during the rewire. I have to explain and point out any problems I find and then it is up to the householder to act upon them. To reassure the lady that I wasn’t after seeking more work I told her that I no longer carry out that sort of work anyway because of my age. She then asked if I would return on another day to replace a faulty light switch for her and I told her that I could do it whilst I was there and it would save her a lot of money not having to call me out a second time. She agreed and I replaced the switch. She couldn’t thank me enough for the work I had done for she had been without lighting for several days according to what she had told me. Evidently no-one would take on the work for her. Later in the evening she twice called again to thank me telling me that she would recommend me to all her friends. Nice but ……..
I work part-time as an electrician. Well that is what I tell myself and indeed others too but it is often said with tongue in cheek! I find myself taking on work when perhaps I should take things more easy. The problem I have is where to draw the line between refusing work and being so obliging. That is my problem, I am too obliging and often find it difficult to say no. There are days however when I have absolutely needed to say no and give excuses for doing so. I remember many years ago when I was asked to rewire a very large house that I really didn’t wish to take on, not because I was unable to do it as I was still in my early twenties but more because I was fed-up with the pressure at that time. I had someone to help me with the larger jobs in those days and we had enough work coming our way to be able to say no when we wished. I submitted an estimate or quotation which would have been considered way over the top for the task and it as accepted! It taught me a lesson, just say no thank you next time. That is what I do now but perhaps not as often as I should. Consequently I am usually working more often than I am not. Over the last few days I have not been able to do much at home so it enabled me to be more readily available to work for others, which is what I have been doing. Some people though think I am a machine that never gets tired or weary. I hear lately from my clients that they have been finding it very difficult to get hold of an electrician and those they manage to contact simply let them down. Many a time I have heard that one, the electrician doesn’t turn up! Once they find out that I do arrive when I say I will they latch on to me often pushing more work my way and referring me to their friends and family. On Thursday evening I received a call from someone who is the chairperson of a local block of flats (apartment block) and he takes care of maintenance and arranging trades persons to carry out repairs.
One of the elderly occupants required a replacement light unit outside her front door but nobody wanted to do such a simple job. He asked if I could do it. I went the following morning, Friday after completing my first job for the day, had a quick look at what was required, drove to the supplier and purchased what was needed and was back twenty minutes later and fitted it. The whole job took less than an hour and the elderly lady was really grateful. The guy who had phoned me remarked at my punctuality and reliability and promised to pass more work of a similar nature my way. He reflected on the unreliability of those who had let him down. On my return from the supplier an irate driver had pulled up sharply behind my van as I was reversing it to park. It appeared I had taken his space in the park! There are no allocated spaces in the car park so I asked him where it was posted that his car should park where I had parked the van. There wasn’t one but I understood what he was trying to say in that the space was simply where he always parked his car. Under normal circumstances I would have gladly moved to the adjoining space but because of his attitude I left the van where I had parked it. I really didn’t understand what all the fuss was about, I was only going to be there a few minutes! When I got home it was a little early for lunch as it wasn’t yet noon so I took the opportunity to wash the van, the first wash of the year I might add. I sometimes think it pointless to wash a vehicle too often during the winter months and especially if it has been raining a lot. By the time I’d finished it was approaching 1 o’clock and I was feeling a little hungry but the phone rang and it was the window installer who wanted to come to fit the replacement window where we discovered one of the panes had developed a crack a couple of weeks ago. It was under guarantee so we didn’t have to pay anything. He came about fifteen minutes later and soon had it done. Now it was after one and the door bell rang. Our next-door neighbour wanted to chat about something and as is her want, she stayed a little longer than was necessary!
The other day I carried out a repair on the mixer tap (faucet) for her which turned out to be awkward. She explained that her hot water tap was now dripping a little when turned off. A totally unconnected problem to the other and a simple exchange of the tap washer will cure it. I think she was expecting me to have a look on the day but I resisted the temptation and told her I would look at it soon. I am learning not to be so readily available! I will do it for her though. So finally I could get my lunch…………