When it comes to some home maintenance things, I am Ulysses S. Quincy. He was a Lum & Abner character who just said two things: “Okay,” in response to just about any assertion or question, and “I got to get my barn painted.” As far as America knew, he never found a man to paint his barn. America might have wondered why he didn’t do it himself.
Well, the jobs I need done I can’t do myself, because A) the shed door is an irregular size, and I can’t find one in the big-box stores. B) I don’t do electricity. C) The outdoor faucet needs to be hacksawed off. D) I can’t find the pavers to replace the busted ones on the patio, anywhere, and I need a Trained Professional to go to the Secret Store where they have the right ones.
A few weeks ago I found porch.com, which has a nice website that cheerfully accepts any job and promptly sends you a text saying someone will call tomorrow to set up the job. And someone did: nice fellow with an Indian accent, chimes tinkling in the background, breeze blowing against his headset microphone. We set up a time, and I awaited the arrival of the Trained Professional.
Porch called a few hours after the guy was supposed to show, and said he had transportation issues. They’d reschedule for the next day. Fine. The guy called me the next day, said he still couldn’t get the lug nut off his tire, but he’d be there by two. He called later to say he’d be there by three, at which point I waved him off and said “maybe later.”
A few days later my wife presented a list of things that had to be done NOW, and duly motivated - yes dear of course yes dear - I went to Porch and requested three jobs.
Two of them earned calls from the Project Manager, a different person with a different accent in each case. It’s apparent they contract out this work to people who are at home, texting and answering the phone. And that’s great! Gives them something to do, extra money, a handhold on the ladder, whatever. I missed the Indian guy, because he was so cheerful and relaxed, but as long as the job got done, it didn’t matter.
The day after I placed the requests, I got a call about the patio repair job, and spoke to a sprightly-voiced woman who took all the details and explained the fee structure, and said they’d be out on Friday. Great!
The next day I got a call from someone else who said he was doing the patio job, and wanted some details. I said they’d already called me about that, and he said okay, and hung up.
The morning of the electrical job, the Trained Professional called 20 minutes after he was supposed to arrive, and said he was on his way. When he was 90 minutes late I texted him to forget it.
Oh ho: when I called up his number, there was a previous text, from me: “This is your noon appointment. I tried to call but your mailbox is full.”
The guy who was coming to do the electrical work was the same guy who hadn’t been able to come to fix the door.
Well, en route to work, I got texts: he was sorry he was late but he had been trying to find my house for two hours. He was not familiar with the area. Google Maps had sent him to a different city.
This means he was either an idiot or a liar. You plug my address into Google Maps, and voy-la, there’s directions an’ everything. If he had plugged the street name into the City field, he would have ended up hours away in Wisconsin, but again, no one’s that stupid. He said he was 8 minutes away.
I texted back: already left, sorry. He texted back: I am five minutes away I gope I can do the work (I don’t judge for text typos, but “gope” seemed apt) if you have to reschedule it will not be me who can do the job
Like that’s a threat.
Walking into the office, I get a call from Porch. Different Project Manager. Never the same person. He wants to confirm that I canceled, and I said yes. Yes, I did. I asked about the status of the faucet job, and he said they would have someone come tomorrow.
I noted that the door guy was also the electrical guy. He wasn’t going to be the faucet guy too, was he?
“Yyyeeesss,” he said. “He is our only technician.”
“You have one technician for a city of 420,000 people?”
“Yes, that is correct.”
“Is he supposed to do the patio work as well?”
“That is correct, he is our only guy”
I’ve worked with other services that farm out jobs to independent contractors, and they have a reasonably deep supply of guys happy to go anywhere and fix something. porch.com has ONE GUY. Checking my phone records, I discovered, sure enough, the guy who’d called about the patio the other morning was the ONE GUY.
You know what I did? I gave him one more shot. Maybe he was having a rough patch. I didn’t want to get him fired - not that he was actually employed. Besides, my wife would be happy if the work was just done. I told her the whole story when she got home.
“Are you nuts?” She said. “No way. Cancel the whole thing.”
She’s not fond of undependable people.
So I cancelled, and while I was on the phone she was telling me what to say, as if she’d actually gone through this entire day herself.
“Reason for cancelling? Uh, we’ve reconsidered.”
“He’s UNDEPENDABLE,” she said, and I held up a hand: let’s just leave it at reconsidered.
An hour later Patch called to say they’d cancelled the appointment, and let me know: they now had two technicians. Maybe I could call back and see if the new guy was working out after a few jobs?
Bong! New email. From Patch. Survey request. How satisfied are you with the work?
I cracked my knuckles, rubbed some liniment on my joints, got out the thesaurus, and began.
Customagic has planned it all! No more haphazard color-clashes that abrade your sensibilities at some subconscious level you can’t identify and hence cannot correct.
Just look at the clutter in that room. So much for post-war mid-century modern style.
Just put them over your furniture! Watch them slip out of place and make everything look disordered! Available from Comfy Manufacturing (formerly American Cyanide and Tar)
Roll that up to someone who’s sweating a bit, turn it on, then wait for her to start shivering and ask if she could have a wrap:
The origins of the company can be traced back to the Two Guys discount store chain, founded in 1947 by brothers Sidney and Herbert Hubschman. In 1959, Two Guys acquired O. A. Sutton Corporation, manufacturers of the Vornado line of electric fans, and the company was renamed Vornado Inc.
By 1964, the company operated over 200 stores. In the 1970s, Vornado began divesting its retail operations. In 1978, the company sold 80 Two Guys locations in California.
In 1980, Interstate Properties Inc., a real estate development company controlled by Steven Roth, acquired an 18% stake in Vornado, since Roth became interested in the company's real estate holdings.
The name was later sold to a company that went back to the original business, since it’s too good to waste on a real-estate company.
If that’s your awkward zone, you’re doing okay.
He looks unsure about this, though. Am I doing this right? I’ve always been an electric man. Just grind the thing in your face while you’re looking at the newspaper.
On the other hand, modern science has made the old brush-type shaving OBSOLETE.
The fellow at the bottom is, of course, an alien, who has just fitted on his Human Face with a satisfying wet click.
HONEY WHERE THE HECK IS THE AIR-CONDITIONER CART
Big screen entertainment: 21 inches. HaloLight didn’t catch on, and you can imagine why: it’s a dumb idea. Was anyone harshed out by the contrast? Or were people straining to see the picture when the lights were down? I hope it was optional.