Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Stop Maligning Contractors

There is a segment of our society that is constantly being maligned, and I think it’s high time we stop it. No, I don’t mean politicians. They are constantly being maligned — and rightfully so! If anything, we need to increase our malignations toward those people who look us square in the eye and lie, especially now that we’re heading into a presidential election year. Complaining about politicians is the only way we regular folks can keep our sanity. It’s a defense mechanism, kind of like “laughing to keep from crying.”

Anyway, speaking about people who “look us square in the eye and lie” brings us back to today’s topic: contractors. Contractors are constantly being maligned, and a common malignuous claim is that contractors look you square in the eye and lie. But this is not true. For a statement to be a lie, the person uttering the statement has to know at the time that it is false. (For example: “I have no intention of raising taxes next year.”)

With a contractor, when he looked you in the eye and said, “I have to finish up a job in Litchfield tomorrow morning, but I’ll be back here by noon to install your new toilet,” he absolutely, 100-percent believed what he said was true. It’s not his fault unforeseen complications occurred at the Litchfield job. How was he to know that when he tightened the screw on a new faucet handle it would cause a pipe to crack under the sink, which spewed water all over the place, and when he raced down to the basement to shut off the water, the valve handle would snap right off in his hand, and then the plumbing supply house would be all out of the required replacement part, which forced him to drive to Waterbury, but his van got a flat tire in Thomaston? How would the poor guy ever expect something like that to happen, other than the fact similar situations occur on virtually every job?

So the bottom line is, he is unable to get to your house by noon, and you have to go the rest of the day, and as it turns out another two weeks, without a toilet. Hey, stuff happens. By the way, if this ever happens to you, when you visit the nearby Dunkin Donuts five times each day for an entire fortnight to use their facilities, at least buy something once in a while. Otherwise, take it from me, the folks behind the counter begin to lose their mirthful demeanor.

This unfortunate scenario is the exact reason why contractors should be admired rather than malignated: they risk their financial security every single day despite overwhelming uncertainty. You think it’s easy being a contractor? You think they’re all getting rich? Think again. What if you quoted a price for a job, and calculated it would take 10 hours to complete, but when it was finally done, it instead required 25 hours and you ended up losing money on the project (along with leaving a couple people waiting extra days for their new toilet)?

Personally, I hate uncertainty. I prefer a steady paycheck each week. I’d be unable to sleep if I knew that despite working hard every day I still might not get paid if a few unforeseen problems occur. Frankly, I don’t know how those guys do it. 

So let’s stop maligning contractors. (Hey, surprise! I used the word correctly for a change.) Contractors are the backbone of our entire economy. And if one of them could stop by and install my new toilet sometime this month, the folks at Dunkin Donuts and I would be very grateful.

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