One of the other hats I’ve been wearing is ‘Project Manager’. It’s a hat I acquired a few weeks ago when one of the tenants in a building we own moved on. It was decided that before we advertised for a new tenant, some work should be done on the premises; it is after all, long overdue.
So over the past few weeks I have been doing the 90-minute round trip up and back to the property steeply becoming more and more stressed with every visit.
It’s because of the ‘tradies’.
One of them was commissioned to build some new fences. He did a great job of the fences. But then in passing I foolishly mentioned that I was looking for someone to clear the block in readiness for landscaping. He piped up and told me ‘block clearing’ was another string to his bow. And I believed him.
Before he even started he said he needed to increase his quote. Because I knew time was of the essence (as I wanted to complete the project before leaving for New York), I agreed to the revised quote. But before he had even finished his first day on the job he said he was sure he’d underquoted and that to make it up to him, ‘I think you should give me the landscaping work as well’.
By the end of the next day, due to all his ‘mention’s of increasing the quote, I was avoiding him. At the end of the fourth day he phoned to say he’d had a ‘bit of a shock’ in that he didn’t realise how much he was being charged for the hire of the excavator and that he had wages to pay, (the son of a neighbour who looked like he was 16 who was on the job for less than a day), and that in six weeks his wife was having a baby, and that the job had made him so stressed he hadn’t been sleeping, and that he really needed to send me another invoice.
Having paid him more than $10,000, I said, ‘Pack up your tools and go’, and off he scuttled. Now I have to find someone else (hopefully competent) to complete the job.
Then there’s the interior. I’ve been dealing with so many ‘tradies’ my head is spinning. Co-ordinating them is mission-impossible. Before we left for the Southern Highlands, Bono, who’d been employed to strip out the bathroom, take up the vile floor tiles, remove and replace the skirting boards and paint all interior walls, said he would be there the entire week we were away. Excellent.
The morning after we returned from our country sojourn I beetled up to the property all excited to see the work that had been done. And then I opened the front door. Nothing. Not a thing. He hadn’t turned up at all. I phoned him and tried to put on my ‘pleasant voice’. He said he’d spent the entire week working on a property in Bondi for a well-known Sydney identity who produced one of Australia’s most successful films. She out-ranked me.
This week he was full of promise but didn’t turn up either. You see, his brother and sister-in-law were visiting from New Zealand and as he hardly ever gets to see them he just felt he should spend a few days enjoying their company and then he had a couple of other jobs that needed completing but, ‘Don’t worry; I won’t let you down’. (As if he hadn’t already let me down).
‘I’m feeling stressed, Bono’.
‘Now don’t do that; you don’t want to get stressed. I’ll start your job next week. I’l be there everyday’. But I fear Bono works on ‘Fiji-time’.
I went to the property again this morning as I had to meet the tradies doing a check-measure for the bathroom mirror. There was no sign of Bono. I phoned him and left a rather unhappy message on his voice-mail. He called me back. ‘Are you all right? You’re not stressing are you?’
‘Bono, there are so many tradies waiting to do their job but they can’t because you haven’t stripped out the bathroom. There’s the plumber, the electrician, the tiler, the guy doing the water-proofing, and this morning there was a check-measure for the bathroom mirror but they couldn’t do it because the bathroom hasn’t been stripped out. That’s the only reason I’m up here and that job couldn’t be done. I need to know when you’re going to do the job and I have to let all the other tradies know’.
And in a very laid-back, casual tone he said, ‘I’m on my way there now. Will I see you?’
‘No Bono, you won’t see me. I have so much to do that I can’t hang around’.
‘Well don’t get stressed, all right? You don’t want to get stressed’.
Bono was there today but at 4pm he phoned me and said, ‘Ahhh, I got those tiles off the walls but the render came off with them. You’re going to have to get the walls rendered now. And there’s another thing. I nicked a pipe. It was only a little nick and so I thought it was okay but then the pipe burst. It’s the water pipe. I’ve turned off the water but about those tenants upstairs, are they going to need water?’
Well, they’re not camels. ‘Bono, yes, they’re going to need water’.
‘Righto, righto; I’ve got a mate down the road who’s a plumber; I’ll get him to come and sort it out. But don’t get stressed; it’s a good thing really because your pipes are really old and they needed replacing anyway. That’s just how it goes on with old places; so don’t get stressed’.
And then Arabella called from LA. She was on her way to another premiere; this time it is a friend of Liev’s who has invited her to the premiere and then the after-party. She bought a $40.00 dress from Zara as she didn’t want to wear the same outfit she wore to the other premiere. (Third-world problems). She’s also had to move back into the youth hostel as Em has gone to Paris on a work assignment.
I thought how lovely it is that she’s off to another premiere but then she said, ‘Mum, the youth hostel is so far from Hollywood. To get there I have to get taxis and it’s so expensive. I’m running out of money, mum’.
‘Well don’t worry, you’ll be in New York soon and I’ll bring my credit card’. (Not that there’ll be much credit left on it after the plumbing fiasco).
‘And the other thing mum, don’t pack much because my suitcase was exploding so I left some things at Em’s for you to bring back for me’.
Great. So now I can’t do any shopping because Miss Arabella, against all my advice, packed all sorts of ridiculous things in her suitcase including a pair of Doc Martin boots that I said she wouldn’t need. To add insult to injury she said, ‘And I haven’t worn them once, mum’.
Did I not say to pack lightly. Did I not say, ‘You won’t need your Doc Martins’. Did I not say, ‘Five pairs of shoes is ridiculous’. But it’s all okay because now I’m coming over and I can take all that excess baggage home with me in my suitcase.
I’m leaving Carl in charge of the tradies. I have lists and lists and lists nailed to the fridge. I’m taking off my ‘project manager’ hat and passing it on to Carl – he’s not happy.
As for me, I just can’t wait to get on the plane.
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