A Weekend of Chaos

May 30, 2011 7:16pm
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Even after a full night’s sleep, I’m still not entirely sure that I’m ready to write about this, but to say the very least, it’s been an extremely fucked up weekend…

It all started Friday afternoon when we had a handyman referred by our landlord come by to fix the ceiling fan / light in one of our bedrooms that hasn’t been working properly since the day that we moved in. The fan would barely turn at all, and when it did it made this horrible grinding sound; the light did more humming than illuminating, and when it did come on it flickered like a cross between a strobe light at a club and an epileptic’s worst nightmare. We figured that at least the switch needed to be replaced, and possibly the entire fan/light, too, but certainly no problem for somebody who knows their way around a toolbox.

For your reference, aside from hanging the occasional picture frame, I don’t feel like I know my way around a toolbox, despite actually owning one myself, and I’m also not a fan of electrical wires, so due to these reasons it seemed more likely that a true professional should come to do the job for us!

So the guy shows up on Friday with a second handyman in tow, and they proceed to tinker around with the thing for a couple of hours, often commenting that the wiring looks horrible and that the whole thing really needs to be replaced. At the time I thought that they had just meant the switch AND the fan that it controlled, but in retrospect apparently they were hinting that the entire bedroom needed to be rewired, which they’d be happy to do for us at a bargain price, of course! That said, as my landlord was the one paying the bill, he wanted to start small and just replace the switch, and then if that still didn’t fix the problem, he’d pop to replace the entire fan as well.

So far, so good – they had some other work to go do while I went to Home Depot to pick up a replacement switch, and all seemed like it was finally on track to get this thing working so that my sister-in-law could finally have cool air and light in her bedroom! Back home, I waited and waited and waited some more for them to come back to replace the switch, but they never showed. In hindsight, had I never seen them again, that would’ve actually been a better outcome than the next events that would unfold over the 48 hours to come…

I finally spoke to guy #2 the next day who explained that they had been working really late (at guy #1’s house), so they didn’t have time to come back … or call to reschedule … or whatever. Anyways, despite telling us to keep the power off in her room entirely because it was “dangerous,” he wanted to wait until Sunday morning to come back and finish the job. Actually, what he really wanted was to come back Sunday and get started on all sorts of other jobs for me because apparently in his head he had decided that he could make a small fortune “helping me out” with all of these problems that I needed fixed around the house!

Part of this was admittedly my fault because I had made the mistake before they left on Friday of pointing out a leaky area by the roof that we needed to get some estimates on to get repaired. Funny thing was, I couldn’t get either of them to actually give me an estimate or even give me an estimate to come out and give me an estimate, but both rambled on and on about how great of a job they could do for me and how they’d save me so much money over a regular contractor, and most importantly of all, how vital it was to be able to TRUST your handyman, in both his work and being around your family.

Remember that word – TRUST!!!

So I’m talking with guy #2 over the phone and I swear, the guy wants to spend more time selling me on giving him the roofing job than on him finishing the first job that I actually hired him for to begin with. I finally sidestep the conversation by saying that it’s really the landlord’s call, not mine, but he continues to talk until I nearly have to hang up on him.

Also, at one point he not-so-jokingly asks if it’s ok for him to take a dip in my pool after he’s done working because it looks really nice.

Also also, the day prior, both he and his colleague had made some less than appropriate comments while they had been working in my sister-in-law’s room. Not rude if they had been trying to hit on her in a club, mind you, although one may have warranted getting a drink thrown in their faces, but certainly not cool as a professional trying to conduct business in a customer’s home.

Still not the worst of the worst by far, however…

So plans are made for them to come back the next morning to finish the job and the girls are creeped out enough by now that they’re going to go out for breakfast, so it’s just going to be me and the dog. Guy #2 shows up not with guy #1, but with an entirely new guy as #3, and they go to work installing the switch. Me – at this point I’ve only had about 4 hours of sleep because I was up all night writing, so I’m not my usually pleasant AM self! (aka I’m civil, but with little desire for actual “chit-chat”)

Anyways, they get the switch changed out, and it still doesn’t work. Not a huge surprise, but it’s time to go buy a new fan. They leave to go pass time at a nearby mall while I run to Home Depot again, and everything seems relatively normal. We all come back, they install the fan and it works perfectly now, and we all go our separate ways. Guy #2 was definitely a bit less pushy about the other job than he had been previously – basically just took the balance I owed him (in cash) and left, but earlier I had actually stood up to him and scolded him a little for acting unprofessional (after he commented that “I needed to loosen up!”), so I just chalked it up to that and was happy that the whole handyman repair experience was over.

Then my wife and sister-in-law got home, and there was much rejoicing that she actually had a working light again.

Then roughly 2.5 seconds later, she went from happy elated about finally having her new fan to super hyper mega pissed off because she discovered that two very expensive and also nearly irreplaceable necklaces of hers were now missing.

*deep breath*

This is where the shit literally (well, not really…) began to hit the fan. I called the guy to tell him he needed to come back right away, but got his voicemail. She called the police and waited on hold for ten minutes before being told that an officer would come by eventually, and for the next 12 hours or so chaos was my world. A very nice cop came and took statements and all of that, but because we didn’t have anything more than his first name and a brief description, they couldn’t really even go to the guy’s house to ask about the incident. Shortly after he left, the guy called me back, basically only because he hadn’t listened to the message yet, but then proceeded to flip and call me lots of nasty words once he found out that we had called the cops. We also attempted to call a few pawn shops in hopes that someone would recognize the unique designs that the necklaces boasted, but apparently none were actually open, or at least answering their phones on a Sunday afternoon.

Some time throughout the mix, I eventually took a nap, the whole time paranoid about whether the guy would indeed come back and I’d wake up to some pissed off dude pounding down our front door in a fit of rage. I also battled a lot of guilt because I somewhat felt responsible for the whole thing – not staying in the room with them the whole time they were here, not bothering to get more information, like last names of the people coming into our house, not listening to the landlord and just telling them that they’d need to reschedule for when guy #1 would be available because guy #2 was kinda creepy and my landlord had never even met him.

And yet when I woke up, it still managed to get even worse yet…

Of course, I had been hoping that I would awaken to find that the jewelry had magically been found under a napkin or something, brief apologies had been exchanged, and thus all was right with the world, but that didn’t exactly happen. Instead, things were very much still the same and all chaotic, but at least the door hadn’t been pounded down during my slumber, so that was a slight plus.

That said, during a portion of my restlessness, I did come up with one stretch of an idea that had the slightest of chances of providing a lead. Knowing how creepily most counties now keep their police records, photos and all, online, I pulled up the website for our county and did a quick search for simply the guy’s first name. Although several pages of results came back, almost as expected, the third arrest record that I clicked on ended up being his.

Boy, do those pictures they take when people get arrested always look ultra creepy or what?!

If I hadn’t been haunted by nightmares before, it was indeed a distinct possibility now because this guy looked like he was about ready to pounce right off of the screen and start bludgeoning me to death. Worse yet, his record actually proved that this was, in fact, a very real possibility, as he’d been arrested four times in the last few years, with one of them being three weeks ago. The icing on the cake, though, was the reasons … driving without a license, possession of narcotics, possession of a concealed weapon, and multiple accounts of domestic battery.

Awesome.

Now at least having the guy’s full name (and other info), my sister-in-law called the officer back and relayed all of this to go into his report. Not sure if he will actually pay a visit to the guy’s house as well, but apparently if the guy is on probation or something, it gives them a lot more leeway to be poking around than just another citizen’s accusation of him stealing something. Still kind of doubtful if anything will actually come of it, but at least now the police have some useful information about our suspect!

So where to begin on what I take away from all of this???

I’m definitely not going to be nearly as naive about letting random strangers into my house in the future. There were times when one of them would just disappear out front for a few minutes to talk on the phone, but for all I know they could’ve stayed in the house and rooted around if I hadn’t specifically seen them walk out the front door. We’re probably lucky that nothing else has turned up missing yet.

Unfortunately, I guess you get what you pay for when you choose to work with handymen like this, and although I’m sure that there are some perfectly honest guys out there, it also makes a lot of sense that somebody with a record would choose this type of work because most employers do background checks these days. Insisting on working for cash and not even having a simple, home-printed business card with a name on it should’ve been a clue. If they’re trying to hide the income from the IRS, what else are they trying to hide?

I’m also probably just going to be a little more paranoid and on edge for a while because I have no idea what to expect from a guy like this. The girls say that I just watch too many movies, but I don’t know if somebody pissed off like that would try to retaliate, whether it’s with physical violence like I mentioned earlier or even just coming back to slash my tires or something. They tried to reason that people who know that you’re going to call the cops again would be less likely to provoke that, but at the same time, given this guy’s previous arrest record, clearly jail hasn’t been too much of a deterrent for him so far!

Needless to say, please let this uber-long recap serve as explanation as to why I haven’t posted much the last couple of days. It’s just been a ridiculously crazy time that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone in the world, no matter how hot and dark their back bedroom was getting. I already told them, next time I’ll either buy the tools myself and spend an entire weekend trying to figure out how to do it with Google at my side, or we’ll go to Walmart, buy some candles and a box fan and call it a day.

And now some 2,256 words later, this story is finally over.

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