Another item on my list of summer tasks is to hire a mason. The above-ground portion of our foundation is brick, and it needs a little TLC. At the base of the concrete steps up to our front porch we've had a bit of soil wash away, and I'd like to fill in that space as well.
I am not quite sure how I took on the role of "person who hires tradespeople" in this marriage, but somehow it landed in my lap. Here's the thing I am currently mulling over: you need a complicated mix of skills to be a good mason.
The most important part of the job, of course, is to be competent at grinding out the old mortar and putting in the new. But it's not the only part of the job. The electricians who installed boxes for new overhead lights for us were competent electricians, but we didn't get the bill for a year after they completed the work. The last guy to give us a bid for kitchen flooring could probably have installed a new floor competently, but he was so rude about my house that I would never hire him. I'm not going to put too much emphasis on people skills -- we once hired a painter who had fabulous people skills but incompetent slacker painting crews -- but you can't come into my house and be rude to me. I also get uncomfortable with effusive salespeople. Last summer I was playing the piano when someone came by to give me a bid on new basement windows. I was limping along through something difficult when he rang the doorbell, but he said, "Oh, wow, was that you? I thought it was a recording." I was like, "Come on, buddy, just give me the estimate and save the buttering up for your toast." But if you ever need a recording of Halting Un-lyrical Piano Interspersed With Unhappy Muttering, I'm on the case.
Last summer I made a masonry decision, and then the guy I chose to do the work just never showed up. Does a scheduling fail predict a masonry fail? Did his phone eat my message? Do I try again with him or look elsewhere? Are those online reviews for real or are they sock-puppetry?
This feels like an important part of grownup-ness that I am perpetually just muddling through. You too?