The best thing about the get-together at our new neighbor’s house was connecting with the owner, Corinne.
She told hilarious stories about the trials and tribulations of getting her house built, something we could relate to only too well.
And she served great hors d’oeuvres.
Better still, when it came time to talk about the wall, she was clear-eyed and realistic about what such a seemingly-simple project could involve on Vieques. She was well aware that the project might very well take months longer than predicted…
…and would almost definitely go somewhat, if not significantly, over budget.
Sometimes there’s just no substitute for having walked the walk.
So we set the wheels in motion. To start the bidding process, Hal made an appointment for all of us Tuesday morning with the guy who had built Corinne’s house (this seemed like as good a place to begin the bidding process as any).
After all, he was a known quantity and did good work.
His name was Falco. He was due at 9:30 but showed up at 8:45. Corinne was still asleep. We were awake but grumpy. And it was raining.
We had never actually taken a good look at our property from Corinne’s yard. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
Sure, the house itself looked great…
…but the dirt embankment separating our yards was about ready to give way…
Falco paced up and down for what seemed like hours.
“How many tall here?” he asked, pointing to the front section.
“Six feet,” I suggested.
“And this many same here?” Falco continued, pointing to a section that needed much less support.
“No, media,” Michael said, preening slightly.
“Ah, media!” Falco exclaimed, proud of Michael for knowing the Spanish word for “half,” which was endearing in itself.
Let’s hire him, the unscientific portion of my brain told me. Calm down, my more rationale lobe replied. Not so fast.
This somewhat cutsey conversation went on for what seemed like eons, but about the time I became eligible for Social Security…
…Falco finished his measurements. Now he needed to write up his bid. “I come back at four and a half,” he declared.
I had never heard 4:30 in the afternoon so charmingly described.
We later admitted to each other that we had hoped for a bid in the range of $4,000 to $6,000. Falco’s bid, not delivered as promised at four and a half, but the following morning at ten and a quarter…
Michael suggested that we get Humberto, the guy who smooth-coated the side of our a few months earlier, to come by and take a look. I called Corinne to see if this was okay.
“Of course,” she said. “Obviously we need to get at least two or three bids before we make a decision.”
“I think you’ll be surprised by how low his prices are.”
“Sounds great to me.”
“By the way, what did you think of Falco’s bid?”
“We thought it was reasonable.” She wasn’t giving much away. It was hard to know if she was hesitant to say more because he was her brother’s “guy,” or if she really thought his estimate was competitive. “How about you?”
“We thought it was a little high.”
A slight pause. “Okay, well let’s see what your man comes up with.”