Friday Electric

We lost track for a while of the electrician who had given us a bid to do some electrical work. He gave us a verbal quote which was fine, and but then a written quote of a hundred bucks more, which was a little fishy, but either way I called him and left a message asking him to call back to discuss a start date. Then waited and waited. Finally I called one Mr. Connor, who had the recommendation of Mr. Simon on the Hill East Listserv. Mr. Connor came out the next day, took a look around, said it’d be about a third of the cost of the first electrician’s quote, and he said that he could do it like the day after tomorrow at eight-thirty in the morning.

As in today, now, Friday. So I take this morning off from work and wait for him to show up. Roberto and Jose arrive at 8:35 a.m. They aren’t exactly sure what they’re supposed to do. Where is Mr. Connor himself? Roberto tells me that he’ll be along at some point soon. So I explain to the two of them what we want and what I assume Mr. Connor was going to do. I never did get Mr. Connor’s first name. I think it’s James, since Roberto keeps referring to him as “Mr. Jame.”

Roberto and Jose start by digging a big old channel up the living room wall from the breaker panel box. It’s really really loud, when they do this. Then they do the same in the upstairs front bedroom. Then the back bedroom. Then they lay shielded cable in the channels, and string it up through the ceiling/floor and attic. Takes about three hours. Then they fill the channel up with expanding foam, and then go to lunch while the foam dries. When they return they neatly slice the foam flush with the wall with hacksaw blades.

Neither of the cats is happy with the whole experience. Gwen hides under the bed in the guest room while they’re downstairs, and then when they go upstairs too she takes to the safety of the top of her litter box in the workshop. Louise is spared for a while longer, until they go into her bedroom as well. She parks herself unhappily halfway down the stairs. I sit around with Gwen mostly, reading Lord Hornblower.

I also have a good chat with Roberto for a few minutes while exploring inside the main box. I see where the main cable comes in, to the main breaker, then splits off to this like side line of connections. All the other breakers are connected to this as well. So I ask Roberto if this is where all the connections are, and if these metal tabls are just there to hold the breakers. I tap my index finger on one of the metal tabs as I ask him this. Roberto’s eyes get big and round as he tells me not to touch that, that there’s 220 volts running through there. I promised not to touch it again. But it was good to learn about what goes on in there.

Mr. Connor does put in a quick appearance at one point. I swear it lasts about sixty seconds. After he leaves I remember that I was supposed to ask him about some product that he had recommended for repairing the plaster. I run and catch him, and he says it’s “Easy Forty-Five.”

When Roberto and Jose and are all done and ready to leave, I start writing a check and ask how much it is, but Roberto says that Mr. Connor will send us a bill. I then try at least to give Roberto a twenty in cash, but he won’t take it. He says Mr. Connor will pay them. I tell him it’s a tip, but he still won’t take it.

One thought on “Friday Electric

  1. You’re lucky that the fellows did the work after all. My brother Andrew (who, like you guys and us guys, owns an old house) says that he’s noticed a pattern when it comes to contractors. “Jesus gives you the estimate and Jethro does the work.” We’ve found that even the contractors who come to us with recommendations from the neighborhood list serv often stink up the joint. Maybe the standards here are lax compared with those in the east. We’ve found that we have to paint the interior ourselves if we don’t want paint dripped on the floor. And the concept of sanding old wood surfaces is apparently foreign to painters here.

    Fortunately, so far the guys who are building our screen porch are doing a very good, professional job. They should, of course, for what it’s costing us, but still, after some of the experiences we’ve had, we’re pleased. I’d cross my fingers, but I don’t want to jinx it.

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