Thursday, February 14, 2013

This is Not About the Roof

The room we call the den is located at the back of the house.  It's one of those additions that presents a less than seamless quality in the overall look of the house.  Still, we like the room and use it a great deal.  That's why we're fixing it rather than tearing it down.

When you don't have an unlimited budget like the guests on This Old House, you do the best you can.  When we moved in, some eighteen years ago, we put a nice deck on the top of that room.

Alas, flat roofs don't last as long as shingled roofs and before you know it there's water dripping inside and onto the carpet.  The tree that once shaded the deck had to be cut down leaving the deck unappealing to all but nude sunbathers.

The work was scheduled to begin last Friday.  It snowed.  They didn't come, so I called the office.  The owner of the company answered the phone.  I remarked that nobody has come today, are we going to reschedule?  The owner said it's obvious why no one came.  I said, obvious or not, I was taken aback that no one called.  Oh, well, says the owner, so and so called in sick. 

Saturday was a beautiful day.  I pruned some small trees in my yard.  No one came to work on the roof.

On Monday, the crew appeared.  It was quite windy.  The crew chief told me he once fell two stories off a roof on a windy day.  He broke both wrists and his pelvis.  Bummer.  We began discussing the job at hand.  I explained to him that the pond needed to be covered and provided an ashtray for them to put their butts.  Crew Chief assured me they would cover the pond and they would pick up all their butts and they'd be back soon to get to work.

On Tuesday the workers dismantled the deck.  They scraped off the old roof. They tore off trim and siding, then hurled it across the yard, keeping it handy to be reapplied after they put on the nice new shingle roofing.  They stained the driveway with rust from their trailer.  It's only rust, they said.

Wednesday they did not cover the pond.  I didn't notice it right away because I was staying out of their way.  I trusted them.  After I demanded they cover the pond, I went inside and cried.  Then I got down on my knees and prayed that nothing fell into the pond that will harm the fish and frogs and dragonfly larvae that live in that pond. 

There is a dent in the air conditioner.  It is, or was, in pristine condition.  That air conditioner is only about two years old. There are sharp shards of metal littering the lawn because one of the worker's idea of cleaning up was to take a leaf blower to the driveway.

I don't trust the workers.  Trust.  Trust is one of the words this roofing company displays on their letterhead and ads and whatnot, along with other words:  Excellence, Integrity, Respect.

These words have meaning.  Surely it is not out dated as old fashioned to believe that when you do a job for somebody you strive for Excellence.  You behave with Integrity.  You Respect others, not just other people, but their stuff too. 

And Trust?  So many times over the years, people have handed me their house key.  They Trust me to enter their home, snap a leash on their precious dog and take him out for a walk.  They Trust that I will return the dog and lock the door behind me.  They Trust that I won't leave my chewing gum under their kitchen table, rifle through their medicine cabinet, help myself to a snack out of their refrigerator, or spontaneously borrow a book off their shelf.

This morning around 10:15, they arrived.  Crew Chief and I greeted each other stiffly.  From the corner of my eye, I could have sworn there was a cigarette butt on the driveway.

He said, "how are you?"
"I am well,"  I said.  "How are you?"
"I am blessed,"  he said. 

Crew Chief went on to assure me that they will wrap it up in a couple of hours and the dumpster will be removed today....

The Lenten Season is a time of Prayer, Fasting and Charity.  It is also a time for reflection.  I'll be thinking about Trust.  Clearly, the Lord has lessons for me.


  1. Aw, I love the way you finished this with that lovely picture and thoughts of Lent. I was smiling at the nude sunbathing and laughed out loud when I got to 'picking up their butts'. I guess snow has backed everyone up in those parts of the country.

  2. Those guys sound like some movers I hired years ago. EZ Moving was anything but easy. The movers showed up, spent a lot of time goofing off, using our phone, eating our candy, and then FINALLY loaded the truck. They stopped for a long dinner en route and finally got to our new place at almost midnight. And charged us triple the estimate.

    I guess I was expected to pay them to goof off....

  3. We had roofers on our house a couple of years back. They were supposed to tidy up everything afterwards. I was still finding old nails and bits of shingle in the garden last year.

  4. Your experience sounds traumatizing; but I'm sure your roofers did not intend to cause damage to your pond or to any of your property. Nevertheless, it's their job to uphold the values they display on their ads. I hope you managed to discuss these things with the crew chief.