July 28, 2009

How I Avoided A Hernia But Got A Headache

Mia got a multitude of things for her birthday. In fact, Walt Disney owes me a from-the-grave reacharound since I believe it was us, the Cactus-Fish family, who ensured that his evil empire ended up in the black this fiscal year. But the most anticipated gift doesn't wear a crown, own a wand or get hitched at age 16 (which, Disney, uh, seriously?). We bought Mia (and, of course Owen) a ginormous backyard playground. It is beautiful. It has a fort with a lookout tower, swings, a climbing wall, a slide and even a picnic table the kids can sit and eat at when they've exhausted themselves.

Unfortunately, as we've learned, the playground is decidedly less fun sitting in the four 200 pound boxes it came in.

We bought it a few weeks ago and for several reasons, we hired contractors to pick it up, deliver it and assemble it. These reasons are simple:

  • Eight hundred pounds of playground will not fit in my wife's SUV or my VW.
  • I do not want a hernia.
  • We have two kids and, therefore, approximately 37 seconds of free time each day. It would, therefore, take approximately 68 years to properly assemble said playground. Mia and Owen would be much less interested at ages 72 and 70, respectively, and I personally have no wish to die with a hammer in my hands, my final words being I'm missing one fucking nail.
  • Speaking of words, both Beth and I agreed that we'd be fine passing up this perfectly good opportunity to expand our children's vocabulary. Normally, vocabulary expansion is a well thought-of opportunity in my house. But the words I'd have exclaimed assembling this thing would get my daughter kicked out of preschool. The conversation would go something like this:

    Teacher: Mr. Cactus, your daughter called another student a dick-nostril. I'm afraid that's unacceptable.
    Me: Don't be such a dick-nostril.

I am, in short, happy to part with my hard-earned cash to avoid the unpleasantries typically associated with major backyard construction. Or, rather, I would be if the asshats we're paying to put the damn thing together weren't such pussies.

I am convinced that our contractors hail from Oz, specifically wherever the Wicked Witch of the West came from. It's the only way I can explain their aversion to rain. I suspect they melt when exposed to water. They've been scheduled to come four times. They canceled the first three due to a very small chance of rain mentioned in the days' forecasts. The rain, of course, never materialized. Instead, they were nice and cool and sunny. The fourth time they showed only to work for four hours and flee after a tiny sprinkling. They pledged to return not in a day or two but a week. Which is why there is literally a ton of building materials scattered across my lawn being not very conducive to play and, at the same time, killing my grass.

Contractors, you are officially on-notice. You have until the end of the week to finish. Or your asses are fired. We've been nice to you because we want our kids to have a safe place to play. But, guys, man up, get your shit together and if you have to get wet, well, deal with it.

I'm giving them until the end of the week, then firing them if they're not done. Is that fair?

Posted by Chris at July 28, 2009 6:33 AM

Okay, although this has nothing to do with playgrounds, recently I fired my Vet! I'm not good at that stuff. In fact, you really have to piss me off in order to get me to get mad, so firing them was hard. Even now I ask Hubby, "Was I too hard on them?" Then he shows the the $500.00 padded bill for their services on my dog and I realize, no, I wasn't.

Posted by: Maribeth at July 28, 2009 7:29 AM

Make sure you get playground mulch and what not to prevent broken legs.

Posted by: William at July 28, 2009 8:18 AM

I think that is more than fair. Unless it torrential rains, thunderstorms, and lightening, they should be able to get it done. You are more patient than I am. I understand coming in out of the rain, but that usually means waiting until the rain stops.

Posted by: MariaV at July 28, 2009 8:28 AM

VERY fair. You've been patient long enough! Cant wait to see the finished product! I am sure the kids (and Beth) will LOVE it!

Posted by: alfredsmom at July 28, 2009 8:37 AM

I think you've been more than fair. I also think your contractors might be related to the guy who took fucking MONTHS to complete the installation of our AC unit. We call him That Fucker.

Posted by: Fraulein N at July 28, 2009 8:46 AM

I agree, very fair. Too fair. I would have freaked out on their asses already.

Plus, I want to see what I'm sure are going to be glorious pictures of this playground. Tell them they need to hurry before they piss off the internet.

Posted by: caleal at July 28, 2009 9:35 AM

absolutely fair.

Posted by: cassie-b at July 28, 2009 9:38 AM

More than fair! I would've already fired them and put it up myself...I'm just a little impatient.

Posted by: Krush at July 28, 2009 9:56 AM

Screw 'em. The world needs fewer shitty contractors and when people let them get away with half-assery, they're encouraging them to spawn other shitty contractors. Do the world a favor and nip their worthlessness in the proverbial bud.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at July 28, 2009 10:28 AM

After 2 very similar experiences with completely different contractors and discussions with people who have similar experience - I have come to expect that contractors ALWAYS take at least 3x longer than they say mostly because if they leave your job after they start, you are at the BACK of the line, not the front. They will start jobs on time - but once they do that - forget it. You are being very fair.

Posted by: Sue R at July 28, 2009 10:32 AM

I say you should have fired them earlier, but I'm not nice. I think it's more than fair to give them to the end of the week. There is no reason they couldn't have come out those days that it was "forecasted" to rain. Then if it started raining while they were there, they could have jumped ship.

My boyfriend just said these guys are wimps (his word wasn't actually that nice). He works in construction and is out there in heavy downpours working his ass off, I told him about this and he got a kick out of it.

Also, aren't the kids going apeshit seeing a partially completed playground in their yard? Talk about torture!

Posted by: js at July 28, 2009 10:32 AM

You would think that considering the economy, they'd be estatic to have work to do, wouldn't you? I don't think you should feel guilty about firing them at all. Give the job to someone who would be grateful to have it.
Think of it as js said, this must be absolute torture for Mia & Owen - still worried about the workers? didn't think so ;)

Posted by: LaineyDid at July 28, 2009 11:42 AM

Yes, it's fair.

I put our playground together myself. My husband provided a bit of brute strength, but I did all the thinking and all the bolts and all that shit.

Trust me, hiring someone is the way to go.

Posted by: Lisa at July 28, 2009 12:05 PM

That is far more than fair. I think I would have fired them after the second cancellations. Serious dick-nostrils.

Posted by: Dianna at July 28, 2009 12:39 PM

Now wait a minute right there people! I'm the wife and partner of a contractor. I will have you know that we have been praised for finishing a job NOT on time but EARLIER than anticipated. AND with no hidden or extra costs except all those little extras that the homeowner decides they want done "since you're here". Oh! and we work on one job at a time so there's no "going to the back of the line as Sue R. has experienced. The other jobs just have to get pushed back if there's bad weather. But I digress....
Yeah! So where the hell did you pick up these slackers Chris? Were they supplied to you by the company that sold you the play set? Did you hire them yourself? Someone you've used in the past? And they left shit all over your lawn? Too bad we live so far away. I'd make my husband and employee come over and take care of it and you're kids would be playing on it by tonight.

Posted by: NancyJ at July 28, 2009 12:42 PM

Very fair. Even worse, my contractor is my friend and I've been waiting two years for a screen door to be put in. I just don't want to hire someone and ruin the friendship, but I really want that screen door!

Posted by: Heather at July 28, 2009 12:44 PM

I am trying to leave this comment a second time. I was very witty the first time around but becuase I missed the miabean the stupid 'puter ate my response.

Good Luck. If they don't finish you can always try one of the "contractor" that holds up the 'will work for food' signs. Oh wait, you don't live in the city--you might not have those guys available at your local home improvement store.

This is our cute plaything story. 1 hubby in bed on an IV drip, 1 brother-in-law-who owned tools, 2 cases of beer, 3 women to carry parts and read directions, 8+ hours in June's desert heat. Then 8-10 yrs later (I lose track) friends hubby and brother come and dismantle it in 3 pieces in 20 minutes for her two little girls. Gotta pass on the fun!

Seriously, we are a bunch of losers. I would've never thought to hire someone to do the manual labor. You Rock, Cactus-Fish household.

Posted by: debb at July 28, 2009 1:05 PM


Posted by: la petite belle at July 28, 2009 3:50 PM

Well, I think that would be totally unfair if *I* were said contractor, because I have an unhealthy aversion to rain and/or getting wet. My kids have even developed tone when they say "ooooo, that's right, Mommy's made of *sugar*" (bitches)

On the other hand, that is precisely why I have a (mostly) office job. And why I married a boy. Well, one of the reasons.

Posted by: harmzie at July 28, 2009 4:24 PM

You do realize, don't you, that once that playground goes up your back yard will attract children from all over. You will have public park status.

Posted by: jessica at July 28, 2009 4:26 PM

Oooh. I hate those situations. You don't want to piss them off and take a further screwing, yet, they deserve to have an angry lobster thrown over their testicles. Good luck.

Posted by: Sphincter at July 28, 2009 6:52 PM

Oooh. I hate those situations. You don't want to piss them off and take a further screwing, yet, they deserve to have an angry lobster thrown over their testicles. Good luck.

Posted by: Sphincter at July 28, 2009 6:52 PM

Oooh. I hate those situations. You don't want to piss them off and take a further screwing, yet, they deserve to have an angry lobster thrown over their testicles. Good luck.

Posted by: Sphincter at July 28, 2009 6:52 PM

Oooh. I hate those situations. You don't want to piss them off and take a further screwing, yet, they deserve to have an angry lobster thrown over their testicles. Good luck.

Posted by: Sphincter at July 28, 2009 6:52 PM

That is completely unacceptable! What slackers!

Posted by: Zandria at July 28, 2009 10:24 PM

I probably would have fired them for canceling the second time. The, again...I would have called my dad and T's dad and we would have had a building party. I love to put stuff together!

Posted by: Arwen at July 29, 2009 9:57 AM

It's not like they're getting extra money because they're dragging this out, right? I think you're being more than fair, and they're being a bunch of pussies. I get it if they're up on a HOUSE roof, high above ground in the rain. But? This is a PLAYhouse and the rain isn't gonna kill them. Lightning, yes... but that's one of those things that you carry on with whatever you're doing until the first flash and THEN you stop and seek shelter.

I'd be rather upset that my grass is being killed under the scattered pieces-parts. I'd be out there, moving the parts around to different places (in my non-existent free time, of course), just so I wouldn't have the equivalent of crop circles in my grass.

Good luck with this -- let us know how it pans out!

Posted by: ironic1 at July 29, 2009 11:17 AM

Give bad contractors an inch, they take a mile. A bad contractor gave my ex-husband a nervous breakdown.

If you're asking the question of fairness, I think "is it fair that Mia and Owen can't use their playground yet?" trumps the other question.

Posted by: Poppy at July 29, 2009 7:04 PM

Can you only imagine if they were constructing a house?? It wouldn't be done for years! I would think you could slap up a child's play-fort-thing-a-magig in at least 1-2 days. But then again, like you said, these guys are pussies.

Posted by: Michelle at July 30, 2009 11:45 AM