I don’t know about you, but when I have workers in my house, I feel like I’m on display. It’s not like anything I’m doing around here is top secret, scandalous or would even be remotely interesting to them. (Unless they consider me slurping my coffee, while I put someone in time out, while I subsequently bitch about it on the phone to my husband or one of my girlfriends interesting?)
It’s just that when I have workers here it can be sort of awkward. When you think about it, when you hire a worker or let a cable guy or repairman in, you pretty much have virtual strangers in your house. You’re told your whole life never to talk to strangers and then you grow up and you’re letting them right in the front door. One minute, you could be passing them in traffic (Yet another reason why you should mind your manners and NEVER flip another car the bird—do you really want them remembering you as they calculate the bill?) and the next minute, they’re using your bathroom and are privy to who and what you’re yakking about.
Some of my friends and family constantly worry workers will come to their homes and steal something. While I realize this does happen from time to time, I rarely worry about this. I assume most people are honest and are just trying to do their jobs. And really, unless they are going to figure out a way to sneak my china cabinet and its entire contents out my front door or wheel away with my (Shiny! And New!) washing machine, they’re gonna be sorely disappointed with the slim pickings at Casa de Muffin Top. See, most of my money is tied up in Transformers and Matchboxes right now, and I rather doubt the street value for a pre-owned Decepticon is all that much.
And my diamond earrings? Yeah, they’re totally faux. (Oh shut up—you knew that!) My diamond engagement ring? Real. But you’re gonna need to put me on three months of Slim-Fast before that sucker’s even coming off my finger before you even think about pilfering it—good luck with that! (I might add though, if you can figure out how to get me back to my wedding weight, I might turn a blind eye while you slink out with that beloved washing machine! Sorry Whirlpool, but you’re not the only one who’s white and boxy….on a washer, divine, on a woman, not so much.)
When new workers get here and we exchange pleasantries, I always wonder, how much small talk do I need to make with this virtual stranger? How many refreshments should I offer them? Or do I? I mean, technically, they are working for me and are not coming over to my house for a social engagement, but I still think it’s nice to offer them something to eat or drink, let them know where the bathroom is, and just in general be cordial. It’s in my nature to be hospitable, but I also think it’s not a stupid idea to be gracious to the people who are working on your biggest investment. Can it really hurt to throw the guy who is doing wiring in your house a coffee and a doughnut? (That would be…noooo! Guess who stole the show Christmas Eve when he made a surprise appearance here dressed as Santa? Uh huh! That’s right!)
Being a homeowner for almost a decade, and doing a fair share of home improvement projects, I’ve had quite a few workers in my house. Sometimes they’re here so long and I like them so much I’m sorry to see them go. When you have small kids, we all know there are some days an adult convo is a refreshing change. (Need I reiterate talking about whether or not fish have teeth with a four year old for the umpteenth time can get trying?) So a real live grown up in my kitchen who wants to talk about the Sox game or who got voted off Idol is a welcome visitor in my book. You wanna whistle while you work? Fine, but you better be whistling my tune! (Wow, that sounds REALLY wrong. I am so misunderstood!)
Seriously though, a word of caution—sometimes you can really interrupt their work and that’s not such a good thing. I had one small mishap with the cable guy who came the day I was baking cupcakes for my son’s birthday. I offered him one and he gladly accepted (probably wasn’t aware of my reputation in the kitchen…eeek). Five minutes after he drove off, cupcake in hand, I got a call from him on his cell.
Oh God, did I poison the cable guy? I better not be getting a call from James Sokolove and Affiliates next! Would a wrongful cupcake lawsuit be covered on my homeowners? Must remember to up coverage.
“Hi, um, this is the Rob, the cable guy. Um, I was supposed to get the serial number from the new cable box but I got distracted by the cupcake and forgot! Can you read it off to me?” Well at least SOMEONE appreciates my baking!
I don’t want to be getting these guys in trouble with their bosses. That ain’t right! Especially after the cable guy hooked me up with cable in the kitchen so I can stay abreast of the very important comings and goings in the world…of Salem, USA. (And these are the Days of Our Lives….Will Sami get back with E.J? Will E.J. figure out Sami is the mother of Sydney, not that tart Nicole? And will Dr. Dan and Chloe finally get together when, and if, she awakes from her coma?) I now know thanks to my handy kitchen tv! A cupcake is the least I can do for the man responsible for making it all happen, my cable guy, my hero.
I can’t let that man get busted at work.
The vast majority of workers we have encountered have been great, a few have been slightly scary, and a few really need to go back to charm school. One of my personal faves was the guy who was the sub on a job we thought we hired someone else to do. (Love that. I hire the guy that looks like Bob Newhart and he sends someone who looks like Charles Manson. I wasn’t scared.)
And why is my husband always at work while I am alone holding the bag when some of these characters show up, most of whom HE hires! Truly, some of them are right out of central casting. Charles Manson, although he really seemed harmless, appeared in my kitchen shirtless one day at lunch time and asked to borrow some silverware. A little disarming in the middle of my turkey and cheese. Was I cynical for even fleetingly wondering if he might try to stab me with a fork if I didn’t have the mustard he preferred?
“Are you fricking kiddin’ me! No GREY POUPON!!!”
Seriously, a shirtless Charles Manson lookalike in your home is just not right. Not a good look—I did not need to see that man in that state. The image is burned into my brain for life. (Make it stop! Make it stop!) And btw, why can’t the shirtless contractor ever look like one of the hot firefighters from Rescue Me? Instead, I get the old, wrinkly skinny guy who looks like he’s on death row. Is that karma? I want to know. What exactly did I do in my past life and how can I repent? (To be fair though, he could have been hoping for Gabby from Desperate Housewives and instead he got the plus size hausfrau with sensible shoes….well those are the breaks, Chuckie!)
There was the quirky hardwood floor guy who looked just like Weird Al Yankovic. Nice guy. Kind of awkward though when I was perusing his folder of previous jobs with him. See, the hubs and I had decided to go with oak to match the rest of the hardwoods in the house. This guy loved Brazilian cherry and truly, I can’t argue, it’s a gorgeous wood, and as I reiterated after his passionate sales pitch, one I would have chosen had I not already had two rooms of oak. So enamored of this Brazilian cherry was he though, that he blurted out, “Oh man, you gotta see this wood. It’s hotter than sex!”
Really? What’s the proper response to a statement like that? It’s not often I’m rendered speechless, but this was one of those times. Weird Al actually stumped me. First the Grand Canyon, one of the biggest wonders of the world…..then randy Weird Al the floor man.
What could I have said?
“Oh really? Hotter than sex? Wow. I’m no professional, but me thinks you must have some ca-razy hot sex life if a piece of wood is more enticing!”
Someone get that guy’s wife on the horn. Something ain’t right on the homefront!
And really, I don’t care how gorgeous a wood is…..how does sex come up in an innocuous conversation about flooring options? Is that part of the routine sales schtick? Maybe I should have tried that when I sold pharmaceuticals. “But doctor, this osteoporosis medicine is the bomb—it’s hotter than sex! You have to let your elderly, postmenopausal patients try it! And pair it with some Viagra…it’s off the hook, yo!”
I’m thinking I’d be persona non grata around the doctor’s offices if I started talking like that. The Weird Al ringer was certainly enthusiastic about his craft, I’ll give him that! And while I’ll never be able to look at another scrap of Brazilian cherry as long as I live without thinking about that stunningly random comment, he was actually one of my more favorite workers.
The least favorite, oh those were the “camels.” They were here for a week working on a project. Despite making them coffee and lunch every day, and telling them repeatedly to feel free to use the bathroom whenever they wanted, they never once used it. I asked my husband, “Do you think they are walking out the basement door and going outside? That’s just charming since our kids play back there. Manners aside, I don’t get how can you seriously go all day and not use a bathroom?!”
Yeah, that’s just not normal. Honestly, I can’t go an hour without having to go. Granted, I have the world’s smallest bladder, but who can go all day without a potty break?
But here’s the thing with these guys….the one day I have to leave for twenty minutes to pick my son up at preschool, no joke, I get home and the bathroom light and fan is on and the door is shut and they were back in the basement working away (Or pretending to work away, as the case may be. Grrr.) In this situation, it was easy to do the math…..I put one and one together on what went down in my absence and it really did equal two.
EEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. I called my husband to unleash my contractor rage about the clandestine bathroom activity!
“Yuck, yuck, yuck! These guys didn’t have to so much as TINKLE all week and then the ONE time I shoot out for a few minutes they go numero dos?!”
They will NOT be invited back for coffee and cupcakes! I wish they had just taken my faux earrings and hit the bricks instead!