Sunday, January 4, 2009


(KENNA-HUR-RAH) is the Yiddish (not Hebrew) word for jinx. With that in mind, I'd like to cautiously...without putting a KENNA-HUR-RAH on myself...tell you about the much delayed adventure of having a new roof put on my house.

I carefully considered many variables; i. e., price, material and professional reputation before picking my roofer. The well-qualified firm I chose was represented/owned by a gentleman so drab that it was distracting. Of course not every salesperson comes off like P. T. Barnum but you'd never expect the guy to be more like the cartoon dog, Droopy. And speaking of dogs, his breath is so unbelievably bad that I am actually wasting my time by acknowledging it in print.

All of our initial communication was positive. He even provided us with other local customer addresses so we could compare various shingles against different color houses. Once we made our final verbal agreements, the contract was signed and mailed back to him at the end of October. Thus starting what has become the odyssey that this project was...and STILL is.

Two weeks later, I called to verify that he had received the contract. I got his machine and left a message. For whatever reason(?) that call wasn't returned until I left a second message. His response was-- he still hadn't received the contract. Despite two weeks seeming excessive for a 20 mile mailing, its always easiest to blame the post office. I took him at his word, made a copy of my copy and re-mailed the contract.

I waited about a week until I left another message to double-check that THIS contract was received. In this call, I made certain to dictate his address and ask if it was indeed valid. I got NO RESPONSE! I called a week later, NO RESPONSE and again a week after that, NO RESPONSE!

By this time, the holiday season was in full tilt. And even though I could rationalize how he might be involved with other things, my doubts about this guy were getting intense. I guessed that he wanted to renege because he couldn't make a decent profit for the quoted price. I also guessed that he was ignoring me in order to save-face in the hope that I'd give up and take my business elsewhere. But the conspiracy theorist in me was nagged by other, these are uncertain financial times...if he under-bid himself, we'd all be better served if he said something like; there has been an unforeseen rate hike from my suppliers etc. And even if he wanted to back-out, for any reason, you'd think it prudent--on the level of goodwill and the hope of future recommendation--that he'd go out of his way to clear the air? Besides, you would think that he'd welcome the work especially in this usually slow season for roofers.
From my standpoint it was a good idea to stick with him--at least in the short term. In addition to his outfit being $2,000.00, $2,200.00 and $3,500.00 less than the other three bidders, he had installed a friend's roof and had a clean record with the Better Business Bureau. Plus he said he would take care of all the permits, provide a dumpster and do the whole job (including clean-up) in one day.

After Christmas I got a surprise call from him. He said the second contract I mailed had arrived? Tis the season for miracles...perhaps NOT! Then he said that he rarely checked the mail at that office (the one printed on the contract) and that he rarely checks that phone's messages (the number on the contract). UGHHH !
The next dagger through my heart was when he said, "I thought I told you to use my cell phone number?" OY VEY !

I cringe when I say this but...I 'm forging ahead with this knucklehead. He said that he has applied for the work permits and will contact me...this I gotta see...when he gets them. The final step is...his crew does not work in temperatures under 40...well I'm going to call him now (on his cell!) to let him know its going to be 45 this Thursday and Friday.

I'm sure we'll all have a good laugh when this project is finished. But until then, you can see why I don't want to put a KENNA-HUR-RAH it. Just hearken back to 1905 Russia, to the frozen village of Anatevka and you might be able to picture a fiddler on Tevye's roof.

I understand that some of my readers prefer their entertainment to be a bit more tangible than fictitious Tevye . But what I have to offer is just as shaky and still bound by similar traditions. So perhaps this month, come by and see the show when Droopy (armed with thousands of little nails and hopefully an equal amount of Tic-Tacs) fiddles on my roof.

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