I honestly do like tradesmen. I don’t have an issue with any of them it’s just, I’ve had a few difficulties with window cleaners and I’m sure they’re not all hard to deal with, I just think I’ve had the misfortune to run into a few doozies.
The first one we hired to clean the windows on a fortnightly basis at Carl’s place of business was no trouble at all. He would do his thing while I continued working, then he’d let me know he’d finished, I’d hand him the cash and say, ‘Thanks for that, see you in a fortnight’.
But then he moved to Queensland.
Grant was the next one we hired. Grant wanted me to sign a six-month contract. He loved paperwork. Used to email it through to me and ask for signatures and come around to collect it and it was all very serious like we were signing off on something for the High Court. I just wanted the windows cleaned.
It was impossible for me to get any work done while he was there. That’s because Grant liked to talk me through the process of cleaning the windows. I would try to bury my head in my computer and look very busy but he was immune to the signals.
Within two minute he’d be talking. ‘Oh, these windows are a lot dirtier than I thought. Have you had a lot of people in here?’
‘I can see finger prints on this set over here. It looks like kids have been in here. Are you sure you haven’t had young kids in here?’
‘Oh, yes, some kids were in here last week’.
‘Well, that’s going to take a bit of time. Just come over here and take a look at this.’ And I’d be pulled over to have a look at the finger prints like it was a crime scene. And he’d continue, ‘That’s a sticky substance there and that’s going to take a bit of work. That’s not just going to come off with my brush. I’m going to have to get that by hand. And you see that mark on the other side of the glass? That’s tar. That’s from trucks. When they pass by here at high speed they throw tar up onto the windows. And that’s not easy to come off either. That could take me a while. And look up there.’ And he’d point to the corner of the room. ‘You see that?’
‘That’s cobwebs. You’ve got them in all the corners. Have you had the pest people in? Because you don’t want cobwebs getting on your windows. Oh no, they’re on the fly screens too. I’m going to have to take those off and wash them by hand. I’ll hose them down outside, wipe them dry, then bring them in. I’m glad I brought some extra towels. I won’t bring them in while they’re wet, I’ll make sure I dry them off and…’
And with a bit of God’s mercy the phone would ring and I could excuse myself and pray the person on the other end would keep talking until Grant had finished with the finger prints and the tar and the cobwebs.
At the end of the six months Grant wanted me to sign another contract. That’s when I took the opportunity to tell him we no longer wanted to sign contracts with window cleaners.
Then there was Max. I didn’t get his name out of the paper, I saw one of his vans parked outside a cafe in Palm Beach, wrote down the number and gave him a call.
The phone call started out fine. Max was very nice and professional but everything faltered when he asked me how I came to have his number. I told him where I’d seen his van. Well this brought on a set of questions like he was a barrister cross-examining me in the witness box. He said no one at his company was in Palm Beach on that day, at that time.
‘Did you see the van?’
‘What time was it?’
‘Where exactly was it parked?’
‘How long was it there for?’
‘Did you see the driver?’
‘Was he wearing a uniform?’
‘Are you sure it was my business name?’
‘Was the website address written on the side of the van?’
On and on and on. That was my red flag right there. But no, I let him go ahead and quote and he said he’d phone me back later in the day with what it would cost. Well at 8.40pm the phone rang and it was Max, clearly working back. The fee he quoted was 10 times higher than what Grant was charging me so suddenly Grant didn’t seem so bad after all. I told Max I couldn’t understand how it could be so expensive. That statement made sure I wasn’t off the phone before nine. I had to hear about how his team wears a smart uniform, how he’s insured, how much he pays in insurance, how he complies with OH&S, how the job requires two people, how he’d have to bring his longest ladders, what would be involved in the removal of the fly screens and, how he’s looking for a commercial property just like ours and would we like to sell it to him.
I wondered if he was trying to send me barking mad.
We solved the problem. Carl now cleans his own windows. He went out and bought a thingy that you attach to the end of a long pole, dip in solution and wipe over the windows. They’ve never looked better.
Have you had a tradesman make you feel like you’re going mad?
Since posting the food images from my post Australia Day Re-Cap I’ve had a lot of comments from my American friends asking if I would post a recipe for pavlova. So here it is…
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: This is a very inexpensive dessert as it requires just a few ingredients that you probably already have on-hand.
- 6 egg whites
- 1 1/4 cups castor sugar
- 1 tspn vanilla extract
- 1 tspn malt vinegar
- 1 tspn corn flour (plus extra for sprinkling)
Pre-heat oven to 120C (250F).
Line a baking tray with baking paper and sprinkle with corn flour.
In a clean stainless steel bowl pour in egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form. Add sugar 1 tbspn at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat until glossy (about 5 minutes) then fold in vanilla, vinegar and corn flour.
Use a spatula to spoon onto tray. Pile meringue into a circle. You don’t want to flatten the meringue. Keep the meringue high and in a fairly tight circle as the meringue will flatten slightly and spread during the cooking process.
Cook for 60 minutes, then check to see if it’s cooked by touching the pavlova. It should feel dry, not sticky. If still sticky, cook for an additional 15 minutes then re-check. When cooked turn off oven and allow to cool with the oven door closed.
Remove from oven and slide onto a platter.
Decorate just before serving with whipped cream and fresh fruit. (Or berry coulis or lemon curd or whatever your prefer). NB: The weight of the cream and fruit can flatten the pavlova because it’s a very light dessert so best to decorate as close to serving time as possible.
Have a go at cooking a pavlova and do let me know how you fared.