Freddy’s somewhat cavalier remark that cutting down the irregularly-sized tiles for our bathroom renovation might cost us “a little…or a lot” wasn’t exactly reassuring.
In fact, it curled my toes.
When a contractor informs you that rebuilding your whatsit is likely to cost “a little more” than he originally quoted, you’d be wise to take a quick look at your credit rating to see if you’re eligible to remortgage your house; but when he goes so far as to admit that the added costs may be “a lot,” you might as well just skip the refinance and head straight for bankruptcy court.
After brooding over this ugly truth for an hour or two I called Freddy back. “Maybe we should just start over and buy new tiles.”
“Que?” he said, in an unconvincing attempt to pretend he didn’t understand, despite the fact that he’d been jabbering away in nearly perfect English barely an hour earlier.
“New tiles. Let’s just junk the old ones and start over.”
“I already started cutting these.”
“Oh,” I replied, regretting for the first time in my life that I’d hired someone who was actually efficient. “Well, thanks.”
Was it possible that Freddy had a sense of humor? I couldn’t tell. But it was clear that I needed to re-locate my own.
“So is this latest development going to send me to the poor house?”
There was a slight pause. “What is this poor house?”
Again, I had to wonder if he was pulling my leg. “It’s a very, very sad place where people end up when their contractors overcharge them.”
This time he actually laughed. “Don’t worry, is all good.”
I wanted to believe him with all my heart. But in the meantime, I decided to check our credit rating.
When Michael got home that night I told him the whole story. He listened patiently and then asked, “Oh c’mon, how bad can it be?”
“Is that a serious question?” I countered, treating him to my personalized version of his patented Look (clenched jaw, dilated pupils—you get the idea).
“Oh, I see,” he said, eyeing me nervously as if he half-expected me to crown him with a box of irregularly-sized tiles.
“We need to get a revised written estimate from this guy,” I went on, practically foaming at the mouth.
It was his turn to give me a Look—but this particular version was one of undisguised pity. “And while we’re at it, we should ask the Tooth Fairy to slip a winning lottery ticket under our pillow tonight.”
Point well taken.
I called Freddy the next morning to ask how it was going.
“Fabulous,” he replied. “We found out yesterday our little boy needs braces and this job will really help pay for them.”
I wish I could have shared his delight.
Instead, I felt a bit like the Tooth Fairy myself.