Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My day was AWESOME. With Bonus Electricians.

Posting is sporadic at the moment.  For my laxity, I apologize, but renovations, once begun, seem to keep on happening, and one day you wake up to find that your electrician has interpreted “I want this light and this other light both on the same circuit and both controlled by this switch right here” as instructions to pull the wiring for the second light out of the ceiling and paint and plaster the ceiling up behind him.

My day today was awesome.  It went sort of like this:
            "Hi Julio, my redoubtable electrician friend!  Where is everyone?"
            "Hello Señora Tabubilgirl! The floor people came, but then they went away again.  They seemed worried about something.  They said they were going to call you.  Enrique the plumber is off sick. The kitchen installation people haven't come at all, but that's okay, because neither did the ceramicist, and we can't do the kitchen installation till the he puts the last corner tiles put in, so that's a good thing.  But don't you worry, Señora Tabubilgirl!  Right now I'm just finishing up the kitchen outlets, but after that, I will do all the tiles myself!  And O Look - here are the floor people now!"
            The floor people were worried.  About two things things. The first of which they wanted to show me right away.  And that ended up in a phone call to our general contractor, which went like this:
            "Rodrigo! Where are you!"
            "In the car!  Going places!  Buying paint for the painters!"
            "There's just a little problem with the bedroom floors and I'd like to see you here as soon as possible!"
            Rodrigo is a good contractor.  He knows a client in a tail-spin when he hears one.  He was on-site in less than ten minutes flat.

            "Hel-lo, Rodrigo!  How are you this fine morning!  Remember how we went to rather a lot of trouble to level the floors and take out the hollows and downward leaning slopes?"
            "Right.  So why exactly, after all that leveling is there now a great big upward hump in the middle of the master bedroom floor?"
            "Ah. That's just where the old slab meets the new slab. The floor guys expected a little variation.  Anything up to half a centimeter.  Where are the floor guys, anyway?"
            "Rodrigo, this ruddy great hump is a lot more than half a centimeter!  See?"
            "Oooooh. Oh. Yeah. My word, that IS a big hump. Eight centimeters?  My word. Well, it's not that wide... I reckon we can knock that out, no worries."
            And Julio was duly hauled out of the kitchen and handed a hammer and a chisel.
            Rodrigo looked at me. "Where are those floor people, Tabubilgirl?"
            "Oh, they went away again.  That was the second thing.  They've lost the floor."

We went into the kitchen for a tour of inspection.  And a spit-take.  Rodrigo bellowed.
            Julio appeared, chisel in hand.
            "Would you care to explain" Rodrigo said, blinking rapidly, "what you are doing to those electrical outlets next to the sink?"
            "Well, Señora Tabubilgirl wanted two of them. I just finished screwing the cases on so that the installers can come in, just like you asked me to."
            "But why aren't they level?"
            "But they are level!"  Julio was stung.  "You've both made such a fuss about level - I even used the bubble level to make sure that they are perfectly level with the floor!"
            "They’re not level."
            "They are level!  I measured them myself! 
            Rodrigo gathered himself visibly. And let it all out with a rush. "They're side by side-" he hollered, "two centimeters apart, and one of them is three-quarters of a bloody centimeter higher than the other one!"
            Julio looked at him and looked at him and there was absolutely no compromise in his eyes. I could see Rodrigo looking back, and deciding that there were some battles that were just not worth the winning.  Fixing this would involve taking off a lot of tile, and a lot of grout – and considering how lucky we were to have those outlets in the first place* I was inclined to agree with Rodrigo.  Under the circumstances, however, I wasn't entirely sure that I was comfortable with Julio finishing up the tile work before the kitchen installers came.
            "Oh, that's not a problem."  Rodrigo looked happier that there was something to be happier about.  "I've just heard from the ceramicist and he's promised to come in today to finish it all off." 
            Rodrigo’s phone rang.  "Speak of the devil -  Where are you? Downstairs?  Fan-tastic."  He hung up and looked at me.  "Good thing those kitchen installers haven't come in yet.  Where are those boys?  Aren’t they supposed to be here by now?  Speaking of where things are – or aren’t - how'd they lose the floor?"
            I sighed.  "According to the floor people, the floors were delivered here on Friday.  They even have a signature on the delivery slip. Only we didn't get them, and there's no record with the building manager downstairs, so now they're off trying to figure out who actually took delivery."
            Rodrigo’s rather rapt contemplation was interrupted by the arrival of the ceramicist.
            "Don't mind me."  The man said.  "I'm just here to get my stuff.  I've got my boys waiting downstairs in the truck.  We've got another job."
            Rodrigo inhaled alarmingly, and I fled back toward the bedroom and Julio and his chiseling. When I came out again, the ceramicist was looking tightly unhappy, and lowering a tile into a puddle of cement with a rather... teenage look on his face. 
            He did not, however, stick around.  The most we got out of him was the rest of the tiles cut to size. 
            "I will stick them in myself" Rodrigo said, sniffing in a faintly teenager-ish fashion himself. "The tiles can be wiped clean easy enough, and the grout tidied up after the cabinets go in - if we can get the cabinets installed…”
            "I'm calling the kitchen people now."  I assured him, and Rodrigo went off to greet the painters, who were arriving in a cheerful mob, and Gods bless them, settling down to do some actual painting.
            I called our contact at the kitchen store.
            "Oh, hello" She said vaguely. 
            "We were expecting the installers this morning..."
            "Oh.  Right.  You mean they're not there?"
            "Huh. So do you want them tomorrow then?"

* First we showed Julio the detail design specs and he agreed that they were good.  Then I took a sharpie marker and drew little boxes on the wall where each outlet would go, and he agreed that that was a sensible precaution. Then I wrote “enchufe” (outlet) with my sharpie right next to each of the boxes – and he went and plastered the wall smooth over the top of all of it and had the ceramicist start laying tiles right there.  While he went and rewired the switch for the ceiling lights to run the dishwasher.  I'm not joking.

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