Saturday, October 3, 2009


I always wish I could write more freely about my workplace. It's endlessly interesting. Never a dull day. Unfortunately, most of it is highly confidential.

I will say this: it was especially interesting this past week, due to some renovations we had done. The workers got started last Thursday evening. The affected part of our site was closed down all day Friday, and the plan was that they would keep working through the weekend until everything was done. The cleaners were scheduled to come in on Sunday evening to get everything shipshape, and Monday morning we were supposed to get right back on schedule.

I had my doubts. This same crew of workers had done a weekend renovation for us in the past. Come Monday morning, the place was a distaster area. We had to send all our clients home, and the business lost thousands of dollars. Why did these guys get a second chance? They were a lot cheaper than the next highest quote, by more thousands of dollars than were lost in the disaster fiasco. The bottom line speaks loudly.

So, what happened this past Monday morning? I bet you can guess.

It was a disaster area again. Not quite as bad as the last time. We were able to see our clients, but only because my early shift worker spent 2 hours, between 5:30 am and 7:30 am, on her hands and knees, scrubbing paint, plaster, and adhesive gunk off the floor. The other earliest workers also rolled up their sleeves and got to work throwing out the construction garbage that was left everywhere, and sanitizing the work surfaces.

The cleaners had apparently come the night before, surveyed the incredible mess, and, afraid to start moving things for fear of messing up the incomplete work, had pretty much given up and left.

One of my staff had been in on the weekend, and guess what? No really, guess. The construction workers had not shown up at all on either Saturday or Sunday. They worked until late on Friday night, and then just left the whole mess to sit for the entire rest of the weekend. Their excuse: the paint wasn't dry enough to continue. Um, hello? If that's even true, your plan and promise to be finished in a weekend was a little short-sighted! The men in charge of the job have been working as contractors for at least ten years, probably twenty. They should know better.

And then, guess who showed up on Monday morning? At 8:00 am smack dab in the middle of our business? You got it. The workers! At which point they started in hammering, sawing, sanding, and generally making a huge disturbance, right in the middle of all our clients. It was unsanitary, unsafe, unplanned, and completely stupid. It didn't take long before another layer of dust was deposited all over the surfaces that the morning staff had just cleaned. But we let them go at it, just so we could get the whole experience over with as soon as possible.

The staff was understandably aggravated at having to put up with this nonsense. I was lucky in that none of the renovations took place on my turf. I was involved because I loaned my staff to the other department head to help out, and I had to deal with all the technology that was in the affected area. Of course the workers managed to disconnect a phone jack that had previously been working. They also placed some cable connections in an office kitty-corner to the desk, so I had to direct one of my staff up on a ladder to fish extension cables through the plenum space over the ceiling. That was an adventure we don't care to repeat. The plenum space is packed with dust and obstacles, and acoustical tiles never seem to want to lie flat again once they've been popped out of their grid.

Anyway, everything's back in working order now. One of my bosses has promised me never to hire these particular contractors again. The other boss is still kind of defending them. Ah well. They pay me well enough, so at least I'm well-compensated for the irritation.


Anonymous said...

Ah, the nightmare of contractors! You get a bid, they accept the job, then all of a sudden there are soooo many unforeseen obstacles, problems, details. The job gets extended -- this guy's been sick, that guy's mother died, we had another job come in -- then they disrupt everything you do because they want to finish the job before the bid vs. labor cost loses profit.

Yep. Scamtractors, we always called 'em. Happens everytime.

LL Cool Joe said...

Workman never finish jobs when they say they will. Never. They seem to delight in making as much mess and noise as possible. They also never turn up when they say they will, but guaranteed the one time you don't want them there, they will be. Demanding cups of tea.

wigsf said...

You know what, working sucks. Retire. Let the husband support you.

DarcsFalcon said...

Appalling that they get away with running a business like that! Does Canada have something like what we have here - the Better Business Bureau - where you can call and complain about this contractor? They shouldn't be allowed to remain in business if they're going to cheat their clients that way. I'm so sorry you've had to deal with this huge mess!

powdergirl said...

That sounds perfectly ridiculous, the part about not being able to finish up on the weekend because of the paint?

Utter bullshit.

Scarlet said...

Why is it that someone always defends incompetence? I'd rather pay more and get the service I expect rather than run around cleaning messes that shouldn't have been left there in the first place.

I'm with the boss that never wants to hire them again.

NicoleB said...

You always have something adventurous going on, no?

G said...

You think you got it bad, try dealing with the dolts in government.

Example: over the summer, we needed to have the toiltes on our floor replaced.

We'll be done in a week they say. One month later, it was fixed.

Kind of.

Jenski said...

Sometimes, I wish I could run the world. :-)

Hope the changes are worth the mess! It's amazing how so much experience came with so little foresight.

Sparkling Red said...

darcknyt: That's my only comfort - that it probably wouldn't have been much better with a different crew. Better the devil you know, etc.

LL Cool Joe: These guys couldn't have any tea or coffee. They re-wired the floor such that the water dispenser and the coffee machine couldn't be plugged in or all the computers in the north-east corner would shut down. (They did eventually fix that.)

wigsf: Can't do that. I make most of the money that affords our current, lavish lifestyle. That's right, I wear the pants in this family.

DarcsFalcon: We do have a better business bureau, but we can't really go complaining to them because we didn't exactly complete all the paperwork the city usually wants before they OK a renovation...

powdergirl: There was a lot of BS going on. I inspected that paint myself, and it looked plenty dry to me.

Scarlet: I agree - I'd rather pay more to avoid a hassle later. Convenience and reliability is worth a lot to me.

Nicole: It sure seems that way, doesn't it?

G: A month? Sheesh. You must be strangling in red tape.

Jenski: Actually the finished product is quite livable. A little rough around the edges, but we're all working so hard that no one has time to look too closely. As long as the walls stay standing I think we'll all be satisfied with the end result.

Jameil said...

you know what? it always helps to be well-compensated to deal with foolishness. that was always my problem with my last job. when things went wrong as they so often did, when it wasn't related to the news, i got really really pissed b/c i wasn't paid enough to deal w/that crap. it seems like shoddy repair jobs are popular in the interweb world right now. wow.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Hmmm... you can always embellish the facts and change details so that it's a fictional event based on a true story. Like maybe instead of construction worker you have evil trolls and instead of being at work it could be in an ancient castle, you know sort of like that. I would leave you name and credit card numbers alone, as you will get confused if you make stuff up for that :-) info.

SoMi's Nilsa said...

Why is it construction related tasks are rarely finished on time or within budget? Then again, I could ask the same thing (related to time, at least) when it comes to doctor's appointments, hair appointments and lunches with friends. I guess we're just not that much of a timely society (unless it's taxes and those best be on time!).

JennyMac said...

these types of project have one classification to me: Double.

As in the cost will be double and the length of time will be double.