A thing that is frustrating me recently – well, it has frustrated me many times in the past, but it is frustrating me MORE recently, because I am dealing with it NOW – is the complexity of scheduling Things for the Home.
We have had a particularly bad few months of House Things Going Wrong, culminating in our air conditioner being rendered unusable. Couple that with eighty-degree weather of the sort that feels like a wet, sticky dog has just taken up residence right on top of you, and I took a vacation day to deal with it all. What a fun way to spend a vacation day.
It gets MORE fun, let me tell you.
Oh – by the way, if you hadn’t yet noticed, this is a post of the whiny/complainy sort.
The House Things Going Wrong list includes the air conditioner, a series of roof tiles just up and flying off the roof, a screen that sort of fell out of the window, a dishwasher that no longer closes, and, to top it off, the semi-yearly return of silverfish. And also an assortment of large black ants. (Having a toddler may or may not be related to the appearance of the ants.) Also, our front landscaping has devolved to the point where I am ready to just up and move away rather than deal with it.
But it doesn’t really matter WHAT the things are. What matters is how MADDENING it is to try to fix them.
Let’s take the air conditioner thing, first. We have some loose wires just hanging out around the outside of the air conditioner. I have no idea what that means. I suspect some of the delightful (jerk) deer who hang out in our yard are responsible. But does it mean the air conditioner is going to explode the next time I turn it on? Will it catch the yard on fire? Will it electrify anything within reach? NO IDEA.
So I called to make an appointment with the plumbing and heating people we’ve had come out a few times. I needed to make the appointment for this specific day, because I was able to take the time off. (I am deeply grouchy that THIS is how I am spending a rare and precious vacation day.) My husband found a coupon on Angie’s List for a general air conditioner check-up and cleaning, so I made the appointment for two things: the check-up/cleaning AND the repair.
Which was apparently tricky for the company to do. Any time I call back, they are confused about the whole repair issue. I am trying to be understanding about that. Maybe their scheduling software only allows for this specialized Angie’s List deal, and doesn’t really show that I ALSO have something in need of repair. I don’t know. But I can’t be the only person in the world who isn’t able to take off TWO days of work for TWO separate appointments, right?
So this morning, facing a whole day of Waiting Around, I called the company to see what time they’d be here. I didn’t even ask for a specific time! Just a general idea of when they’d show up! And the person I spoke to was all, “There’s no way to know.” Which, okay, I get that. You have, say, ten technicians who are all running around to do this check-up and they have no idea how long their check-ups are going to take – maybe the first one will be an hour, and the second one will be four hours because they’ll find something and have to fix it. So I GET IT. But it is still frustrating.
Anyway, I also used this day to get the pest control people out here. I called and specifically asked for an appointment on this day. The scheduling person called me back and agreed, yes, this specific day I could have an appointment. And then last week, the pest control technician called me up and said, “Are you at home? I can come by in an hour.” And no, NO, I was NOT home. My appointment was for a whole different day. And I just don’t GET THAT. What is an appointment for, if not to hold a specific date (if not a specific TIME, which is apparently impossible)?
Also, this pest control company does not answer the phone. They require you to leave a message, and then they call you back. Which is fine, I get it. Probably cuts down on the cost of having a receptionist. But oh man. When all I want is to find out the approximate time I am on schedule, it is SO FRUSTRATING.
Listen, I know that these businesses are doing the best they can, and that they have dozens of clients to serve – not just me. And plus, some people don’t even HAVE air conditioning so I should count my blessings and all. And I DO. I am fortunate that I can hire someone to come take care of these things. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel like a huge waste of time to sit here waiting.
And then the landscaping. Oh boy. We had someone out last fall to look at our yard and give us an estimate. Which they DID. But the estimate wasn’t exactly what we could afford and the proposal was a little more frou-frou than I care for, so we wrote back (responded to an email that the landscaper sent) asking for some adjustments. And we NEVER HEARD BACK. Just… nothing.
So this new person is coming out, and he could only come out at 5:00. And I asked how long it would take – because I have to go get my daughter from daycare – and he said that was up to me; sometimes homeowners went on and on and it could take an hour, but sometimes it just took thirty minutes. Which is exasperating in its own way because I have no real idea HOW LONG it will take, and I guess I should just go pick up my daughter first. But then I will have a wiggly toddler who has no patience for landscaping talk to deal with and the meeting will only take ten minutes and my attention will be divided and I won’t get a chance to really say what I want to say.
The other things I mentioned above? The dishwasher and the roof and the screen? Those things will have to be dealt with a whole OTHER TIME because juggling these three things is already driving me insane. INSANE. You know that the air conditioner people are going to show up at the exact same time that the pest control guy shows up and the landscaper arrives. And I will have to leave them all here so I can go pick up my daughter.
How do people DO THIS?
Do you just… take a few hours off of work every few weeks to handle a thing as it comes up?
Maybe it helps if you can split that duty between two working people. But my husband’s job doesn’t allow for that. He doesn’t get days off – his vacation time comes in two-week chunks and we already used up both chunks for the year. (I wonder if that will be different when fellowship is over and he has a Real Job?) Sure, he has research blocks that are more flexible than the days when he is in clinic or doing procedures. But when your house begins deteriorating around you, you aren’t always able to just wait for two weeks or six weeks or whatever the duration is until a research block comes around.
I am sure there are LOTS of careers that have similar limitations – it’s not just a problem of being a fellow or physician. So I ask again, how do people DO this?
Maybe what the universe is telling me is that I need to take a class in home repairs, or something.