Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I guess I never had too much experience with tradesmen in the USA. So my only experience can be drawn from what I have learned here in the last nearly 14 years. Yes, I have been here for that long already. Mom and dad built a house when I was 6 but I don't remember too much about that. Just that mom wanted to put in too many electrical outlets and Grandpa, who was wiring the house, clearly thought it was absurd. Not to mention that Oregon was wetter than he was used to and plainly inferior to his home state of Colorado. So when we purchased our first house a year and a half ago, we didn't know much about people who came to fix things; carpenters, painters, sheetrockers, masons, the list goes on. For the most part, it is almost always a challenge for either one of us to communicate with a tradesperson in our adopted language of french. While our french is getting better, it does not flow yet, and certainly does not allow for complete freedom of expression. So talking with these folk has usually started with a phone call, something very difficult to do in a language you are not yet comfortable with. If you are talking to someone in person, you can search their expression and body language for any possible clues if y0u didn't get just every word. But the phone...I used to cringe when it rang when I was first learning german, hoping against hope that it was someone who spoke english. So the phone call, to get someone to come by to make a quote (involves giving directions, a fun challenge too!), and then the actual agreement for them to start on the job, and then........the wait. I thought Switzerland was known for everything that revolves around punctuality. Not always the case. My whole point is that over a year ago, we asked a local tradesman if he could redo our door. We had been shopping around for a new front door and I had to dash Ralph in the face with a glass of icewater at the store after we found our what the prices were. Sooo we decided to have our door refinished. We had the carpenter come look at it and make us an offer about one year ago. 12 months and several phone calls later, it is now finished. The door looks great and keeps the cold and wind out. We are happy. We bravely asked him to check if he could change the locks on the other two outside doors to match the key and lock of the newly refinished door, thinking that it would be early enough if he finished it in 12 months. He showed up today, much to my surprise, and did the job in just a few hours. Renewed my hope in all others of his ilk.

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