Degradation and Intimidation

Shortly after Ryan arrived, a termite specialist named Garrett came to give me an estimate on installing a termite control system that I have heard is important here in Texas. Heck, in Scottsdale, all I had to worry about were scorpions and rattlesnakes, my comfort zone. Termites in Texas?!? Eeeeew!

We just moved into a new house and there have been a lot of service people coming and going working on various things. Ryan is an AV/electronics guy and was working quietly in the house for hours. He is smart, gregarious and adorable, probably 28 or 29 years old. He was working in the great room, which is the main room in the house and was privy to my conversations with at least two other service people that day.

I’ve owned a lot of houses in my life. Houses I’ve lived in and houses I’ve rented out and I have a lot of experience dealing with these service guys. I am good at it now but only because I’ve attended the school of very hard knocks for so many years. The first thing Garrett did was pull out a color brochure with diagrams and schematics of all the insidious and horrible things termites can do.

“I don’t want to see that,” I said.

“Uh, what? You don’t?” he said.

“No, I don’t.” I said. “It feels like you are trying to scare me. If a house can be built, anything that goes wrong with it can be fixed and I’m not scared.

Garrett put the menacing brochure away, pulled out another one and began telling me my choices of how to control termites in Texas. It came down to either pumping a “liquid” (which was colored green on the brochure) in gallons under my grass, plants and flowers around the house OR installing “bait houses” around the property.

“What’s in the green liquid?” I asked.

“It’s a non-toxic fluid that the termites cannot get through or survive…”

“It’s a poisonous pesticide then and I don’t want it around my family.” I asserted.

“Well, I wouldn’t call it that. We use it at nursery schools and hospitals and my company has paid for studies so we know it’s safe,” he said rather sheepishly.

“Okay, Garrett, your company paid for the studies and if I had more time I would ask you which nursery schools and hospitals you use that for and I would avoid them like the plague. Pesticides are not an option at my house, in my food or in my garden. Please tell me about that bait choice.”

Long story short, the bait thing is a little less lethal although not pleasant if you are a termite (It stunts their growth so they never come to maturity and can never lay eggs) and after I talk to several neighbors to find out if this is something truly necessary I’ll figure out what I want to do.

Shortly after Garrett left, an air conditioning repairman came. He started by trying to alarm me with dire and disastrous predictions about my units and before even diagnosing the current problem was trying to sell me a pre-paid maintenance program that I know I don’t need. Little did he yet know he had met his match.

“I am not scared.” I said which of course disarmed him. “I’m not scared of air conditioners finally blowing out or anything else about a house blowing out! That’s what things in houses do when their life is over. That’s what we do when our lives are over. I just need to know what is needed right at this moment for this unit to be working correctly.” His face went pale but then he quickly, without drama fixed what needed to be fixed and high tailed it out of my house. Yay!

When he left I closed the door a little harder than I had to and locked it when Ryan bounded over in his youthful enthusiasm with a smile on his face said, “I have to find a woman like you!”

I was completely taken aback. First because I had forgotten he was even in the house and second because I was shocked he said that. It would have made way more sense to me if he had said I have to avoid women like you.

“You can’t have a woman like me.” I blurted back to Ryan.

“What? Why not?” he asked perturbed.

“Because you are too young.” I said. “A woman my age has likely been sabotaged, screwed over, dumped, deceived, betrayed, cheated, ripped off, undermined, manipulated, swindled, stabbed in the back, degraded, mislead, intimidated and humiliated and has finally learned to assert her boundaries on what she is and isn’t willing to tolerate in terms of how she is treated and that takes years. Ninety seven percent of the women your age simply have not been around long enough to experience all that and come out the other end.

“Well then,” he said with twinkle in his eye, “I’m just going to have to find someone older.”

“Well,” I laughed, “she’s going to have to be quite a bit older and I’m married.”

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Delusional Men

My current house is much newer than the one I had in Scottsdale and it’s also (unfortunately) a lot bigger. This is Texas. The one in Scottsdale was at that age where everything starts breaking for the first time and I lived with a revolving door of service repair people coming in and out with their dreaded 4-hour window of when they would show up.

“What if we both worked?!” I exclaimed to my husband. “Who would sit here and wait?! Do people hire a concierge to sit and wait or what?!  How do they afford that??” My husband has no idea what to say when I say things like that so he likely doesn’t say anything.

And if he does take the chance and say something like, “I know,” I would likely say, “Wait, you mean you know or you don’t know?!” which is precisely why he likely won’t say anything.

So the good news is, I don’t have to wait for service repair people nearly as often in this house because it’s so new, but when I do, I still have the problem of the 4-hour window and one other little thing. Every service repair man (and they are always men) seem to think I want to become an expert on whatever they are fixing.

The fridge guy gave me a “10 Point Understand your Refrigerator” course while my eyes rolled back into my head. The automatic awning man was positive my life would be enhanced by understanding the hidden mechanics unseen by the normal human eye, while I drooled. The handyman spouted the benefits of grout brands for the shower while I finished applying my mascara.

I want to say, “Just shut up and fix it! I don’t care how it works and I don’t want to hear you yak! I’ll never fix it myself as long as I live so I don’t need to know all this shit and I just want it to work so quit talking and fix it!” But, I don’t want to be a bitch not only because I am a nice person but also because these guys can be very passive aggressive and could put a scorpion in my ice cube bin, a paper clip into those hidden mechanics or use the crappy grout!

Recently Airtron was sending someone to diagnose and fix a problem I was having in my home office. In that room, I was freezing in the winter and way too hot in the summer. My window on the day the guy was to come was from 8 am to noon. They promised a call 30 minutes prior to arrival so I could zip home from the grocery store or wherever I might be and not just sit home and wait. I have never in my entire life had a service repair guy come in the first two hours of a window, so after staying up late with friends who came for dinner the night before, I set my alarm for 8 am.

Next morning, waddling in my bathrobe toward coffee, I saw the guy parked in front of my house in his van! OMG, my hair was in turmoil, mascara was all over my face and I hadn’t even brushed my teeth! Fortunately, he was typing on a device and I was able to get the mascara off, brush, put some clothes on, rein in the hair and by the time I opened the door I was in a reasonably presentable state.

Garth went directly to the attic. I’ve never had an attic before living in Dallas. I don’t understand why we need attics here when we never needed them in any other house I’ve ever lived in. And, I’ve lived in many.  (See one of my very early posts “I’ve got an attic??” )

He was up there a long time and finally came down and said with enthusiasm, “When they installed this baby, they reversed the supply and return on the vent which means hot air is being sucked OUT of your home office in the winter and cold air is being sucked OUT in the summer!”

“Okay, whatever,” I said, “did you you fix it?.”

Like the others, Garth was excited and said he did fix it but wanted to educate me and launched into a monologue about the mechanics of the evils of when supply and return are reversed.  OMG, I tried to employ body language to demonstrate I was not interested to no avail.  Once again, I was trapped.

I quietly seethed while visions of sugar plums and him being out of my house danced in my head.