Wednesday, July 6, 2016


It is not generally known that July 6 is another important date in American history, one that we often fail to commemorate with proper regard:

On this date, Monday, July 6th, in the Year of Our Lord 1846, Josiah Pfenpfrurch, a general contractor in Philadelphia, arrived at the hour he was expected at the home of Ezekiel Worble; Pfenpfrurch built and attached a Dutch door to Worble's kitchen to his client's exact specifications, including handles and lock; painted it the requested color; and left on time, removing all debris. His bill for materials and services matched the estimate he had given Worble the day before.

This was the last time upon the American continent that a general contractor performed his duties in such a manner.

If there is one complaint I have repeatedly heard about contractors, even those who competently perform their duties and don't pad the bill, it's that they simply do not show up. He says he's coming Thursday, you arrange for a day off from your own job... and nothing! The appointed hour arrives, no friendly contractor truck along with it. Nor does the next tick of the hour hand bring your man. Later, after your third text or call, maybe a desultory apology and a new date. Even when that magical date and man coincide, you have to keep him welded to the task or he'll slip out the door. One second he's contracting away; next, you look around and-- Ho! He's gone again!

You might gather from this outburst that I've just had an issue with a fellow in the biz, and you'd be right. It's not that he's bad at the job---how the hell would I know? He's as invisible as Griffin.

The outdoor job was too cold to perform when we first spoke last autumn, but an oath was made that by March all would be well. A wet spring led to postponement after postponement, and then, when the weather went full Sahara on us, he had to get caught up with all those other jobs that had somehow sneaked in between my promised March job and now. Yesterday morning was supposed to be D-Day at last, and what do you know? A little rain that ended by 7:30 was enough to prevent the operation. Water soluble equipment ought not to be sold to these leprechauns of the building world.

So here we are. As I write this, once again he is meant to arrive, but we shall see. No rain yet. Perhaps if I sacrifice a goat in the backyard it will summon him. But then I'd have goat stuff everywhere, and that creates its own problems. Alas!

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