It wasnít as though I didnít have a warning. When I called and left a message for him to give me an estimate to replace our crumbling deck, he promptly called me back---a week later.
   "Sorry I didnít get back to you sooner," he said. "Itís been real crazy around here."
   "No problem," I replied, figuring he must be good if heís that popular. "Can you come by and take a look at our job? Please. Pretty please?"
   Miraculously, he was there that afternoon. He went back to his truck and submitted his bid for $59,750 immediately. It was scribbled on a contract that was ready for me to sign.
   "How did you do that?" I asked. "Donít you want a little more time?"
   "Nah, Iíve been in the business a long time. I know what things cost. We can have this done for you in about four weeks. We can start next week, if you want."
  "Uh, what about plans and permits?" I asked, a tad suspicious.
  "Iíll take care of all that," he replied, scribbling an additional line on the contract to cover plans and permits. "No worries."
  Believe it or not, the price was far less than earlier estimates, and this contractor was actually a very large firm that has done some very big jobs in our area. He surely knew what he was getting into.
   I added an addendum to the contract that actually spelled out some specifics of the job, and then we both signed. The toilet was delivered the next morning.
   The big, yellow, obnoxious, banged-up, smelly port-a-potty. The contractorís truck dropped it off and put it right in our driveway, smack under the basketball hoop. I was impressed. These guys were gung-ho, ready to roll.
   That was in early October, 2007. The toilet was removed yesterday, 4 Ĺ months later, or 3 Ĺ months after it should have been.
   I liked our contractor. He was my kind of guy. As evidenced by his nonchalant attitude about contracts, he was extremely relaxed about things. And by the end of the job, I was ready to kill him.
   "Weíre starting on Monday," he promised when I asked him why the toilet was still sitting there, unused, after being delivered a week before.
   Monday came and went and still no one around to use the toilet.
   "Weíre starting on Thursday, for sure," he replied when I asked what happened to starting on Monday.
   Eventually, they did start, but it was nowhere close to that Thursday. And then two weeks into the job, they disappeared.
  "Weíll be back tomorrow," he explained. "I just had to pull them off for a couple of days to finish this other job. But theyíll be back tomorrow."
  Tomorrow came and went and the toilet sat idle. Weeks went by, with more phone calls and false promises, and then the rains came. Iím sure the contractor was delighted. No need to lie anymore. They couldnít work in the rain. It was the perfect excuse.
   When the sun came out, they came back. And then they inexplicably disappeared. I called the contractor, but his voice mailbox was full. Not a good sign.
   They finished in early February, only 3 months behind schedule. The work was fine, and there were no cost overruns. Finally, the only thing left to do was remove the toilet.
   "Iíll pick it up tomorrow, for sure," he replied when I informed him that we were thinking of letting our bank know we had added an extra Ĺ bathroom.
   I donít know why, but I kept believing him. And then finally, when the third promise of tomorrow provided no escape from the ever-present toilet, I finally exploded.
   Iím not a screamer, but like almost anyone, I have my moments. And this was one of them.
   Boy, did it feel good. After four months of consistent bullcrap from this otherwise likable fellow, I had just about enough. I got him on the phone (heís a big guy---why take chances?) and let loose with a torrent of beautiful obscenities. I had finally snapped, and he knew it.
   I had the feeling he was wondering what took me so long. I could picture him smiling on the other end of the phone as I ranted and raved. The game was over.
   The infamous toilet was picked up that very afternoon. The contractor called to ask for the final check.
   I said Iíd have it for him tomorrow. Game back on.



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