Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, May 2007
As I write this, there’s a plumber under my sink, wrestling with the installation of a recalcitrant faucet. I am wrestling myself, with a variety of mixed emotions.
I had a 9 a.m. appointment with the plumbers to install this new faucet. This morning, I made sure to be home from the gym well in advance of 9 a.m., though I was prepared for them to be late. I figured all repairmen show up late, so this would be no different.
And indeed, by 9:30, no one had shown up and no one had called. So I called to verify that I was on the schedule, and the dispatcher said they’d had an emergency call but assured me that the plumber would be here by 10:30.
The hours ticked by. At 11:30, I called again, and they assured me he’d be here within half an hour. I got the same assurance when I called at 1:30. By 2:30, my boss was calling, wondering what was taking so long.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t really angry about being put off this way. I wasn’t sure how to feel. On one hand, I wanted to practice my Buddhist patience and compassion, realizing that in all likelihood the plumbers were trying as hard as they could to meet their schedule as well as the demands of their emergency customer.
On the other hand, I didn’t want to be a patsy. What frustrated me more than the plumbers being late was that I couldn’t get an answer about what was happening and when I could expect them.
I sat for a while, trying to breathe into my impatience, my annoyance, my puzzlement at what to do.
Finally I called the plumbers’ office and pointed out that I am president of my co-op board, and that although our managing agent had recommended them, if they didn’t get someone to my apartment within half an hour I would make sure the managers never hired them again for a job in our building.
Within about 20 minutes, they showed up. In fact, almost comically, two crews showed up. Apparently the dispatcher, sensing my desperation, sent a backup.
But wait - there's more. The plumbers conferred and decided they had to go out and get a faucet. I waited another 45 minutes while they navigated the traffic of Manhattan to some unknown supplier, even though there’s a hardware store literally across the street. And even though I told them yesterday, when I made the appointment, that I needed a faucet and was assured they would bring one.
Now, I am simply staying out of their way. I am trying to be pleasant. Trying to be patient. Trying to be compassionate. But also trying to stick up for myself.
Epilogue: Well, the good news is, the faucet looks great and seems to work beautifully. The bill is still an unknown. They said they would send me an invoice. I’ve already decided that I’ll pay for the time they were actually here in my apartment, as well as supplies, but not for their 45-minute jaunt across town to buy a faucet (since they should have had one already). Get ready for round two!