Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Deaf Installer | Lefsetz Letter

I bought a file cabinet.

Actually, that’s not what I’d call it, but that was the heading I found it under. I needed some storage in my new office. But I didn’t want to wait until I found the exact right unit, I wanted something cheap, to store the stuff in boxes.

So I started surfing. Actually, Felice surfed first and she was pushing to get a response, otherwise she’d stop helping me, so I dug in.

Wow, it’s tough. There are a zillion units and a zillion sellers, never mind a zillion price points. But based on the suggestion of my physical therapist, I checked out Target. And eventually found a unit that looked reasonable, for $249, I forwarded the page to Felice, she agreed it would work, so…

I went to buy it. And in the process, I found it at Staples for $189, a whopping difference. I was done, gonna purchase at Target, but Google showed me Staples and then I looked at the fine print and it said…”unassembled.” Now how hard could assembly be? I’m actually good at following the directions. But maybe the Target unit was more expensive because it came built, but that turned out to be untrue, Target required assembly too.

So I looked up the instructions. You can find that kind of stuff online. And it did not look easy.

But I was ready to buy…and then I wondered if Amazon sold it, because I’d get it much quicker via Prime. Amazon had it too, at the same $189 price point, and just as I was putting it in the cart, I was offered assembly. Hmm… $112 on a less than $200 unit? But then I thought of other jobs I’d done, the learning curve is so steep, the second one would be much easier, but you’re only buying one, and oftentimes you screw up and scratch/damage the unit, so I agreed to pay to have it put together.

And you’ve got to make sure you’ve got the right zip code and then you schedule online and my schedule has been jam-packed but I had to be home this afternoon to do a Skype call for a conference in Toronto, so the 2-5 PM window looked good.

Meanwhile, my TV was not getting any of the pay channels and Spectrum said they had to send someone out. Now normally I can only deal with one thing at one time, but since I was home, I decided to go for it.

And I kept on getting e-mail from the installation company, was I really gonna be there on Friday? And if the unit had to be moved, it would be another $75. Huh? This unit is not that big. And then the unit, which was supposed to arrive on Thursday, did not, until late afternoon, when I was on the phone to Sydney.

So I missed Felice’s text. She had the delivery man leave it by the side of the house. She said it was heavy, and boy was it. So would I have to pay the additional $75 to get it up the steps? But I told myself the call to Sydney was more important and paid well enough for me to eat the $75, so…there was no other option anyway.

And last night while at the Sunset Marquis, I got a text from the installer, could he come at 9 AM instead of 2 PM? This made me uptight, I could not do it in the morning, but I was afraid of pissing him off. He told me his name was Vincent and he’d be there at 2.

And at the appointed hour, Felice texted me that he was here.

I walked out in front of the house and I noticed something funny, we had a hard time communicating. He could barely speak. Was he unable to speak?

But I pointed him to the box and when he got there, he whipped out his phone and started typing.


Wow. That explains it. And I’ve got OCD, and I like everything perfect, I’m constantly quizzing workers, and I realized I’d be unable to do so in this case. But I’m not gonna keep the handicapped from working, I’ve got to buck up and be the better man.

So he asks me to lift the box with him.

I think no way, but I can’t talk to him, so I whip out my phone and text that we should take the pieces out of the box to make it much lighter, we’re only going about thirty five feet.

But he types NO. So what am I gonna do?

I should have put my foot down. But I felt too guilty, so I picked up one end of the box and started to walk and after about fifteen feet as my arm started to ache…I REALIZED IT WAS MY BAD ARM, THE ONE I HAD SURGERY ON!

Now I’ve had a ton of surgeries, and this rotator cuff operation is the only one I’ve ever had with a 100% success rate, but I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say I still babied it. And I felt my tendons tugging and…

I put down the box.

And then I had to start typing to the installer, what was going on, which was difficult, the ultimate solution was to take the back of the box and use my other arm, but my sixth sense was right…going up steps, the back is heavier.

And I only stopped the anti-inflammatories two months ago. I took prednisone for thirteen months and weaning myself from it my back went nuclear, the neurosurgeon kept telling me to have an operation, that I could be back on skis in January…but I didn’t want to miss December, I decided to take the risk, I got more injections and took the anti-inflammatory and it worked. Although I did have to pass on heli-skiing all season, and I didn’t ski bumps until March, but I made it.

But every time I tried to decrease the dosage of the NSAID, my back would go nuclear again.

But finally I got off it. In the middle of August.

And I’ve been feeling pretty good, but now carrying this box I realize there’s going to be a penalty, my belief is I screwed up my back to begin with by helping my friend’s father move out of a store, we were lifting file cabinets, we were young and strong.

My back has never been the same. There’s no disk there. The doctor who did the injections asked me who did my surgery. I told him I’d never had back surgery. He then told me those two vertebrae were fused.

So the installer came with enough tools to build a house. And part of OCD treatment is to not watch the worker do their work, because you’ll find problems, so I sat at the computer and tried to ignore him.

Meanwhile, Spectrum came. Someone on the payroll as opposed to an independent contractor.

I was not getting the pay channels because the previous guy had put in a Spectrum box and we have a Time Warner legacy system. So, should we go all Spectrum? He advised against it, the DVR features are not as good, so he put a new box on my TV, but I could not use the DVR to record myself, because only one DVR can be in a Time Warner household, so I had him switch the DVR box from the bedroom to the living room, so if Felice was asleep, I could still program it. Bottom line, when connected properly, you can run the DVR from any box. I could go deeper, but if that’s not clear to you… I loved talking to the installer from Spectrum, because we could go into all this tech stuff and he explained that in a Time Warner household you needed these filters so the modem wouldn’t get jammed by the TV signal and he installed them and then I heard his life story and It was so interesting, he’s from Israel and he married a woman from Peru, and he’s really an animator, but he’s freelance and there’s not that much work now so since he’s married and he feels the pressure to earn, he took this job.

Meanwhile, the file cabinet installer is still working.

They budgeted the job at 2-3 hours. I didn’t see how it could take that long, but it was a flat fee and… Felice remarked, did he know what he was doing? I didn’t want to say no, he was so focused and he was deaf and I was worried I’d miss something while I was talking to the Spectrum guy in the other room but…

There were a few incidents. He put a hammer on the table and it fell to the floor, the floor that the builder said would scratch easily.

And he didn’t put a tarp or anything underneath, to protect the floor, but it was nearly impossible to converse with him, I didn’t want to bug him and I decided to bite the bullet.

And then I heard a crash!

Now I was upset, I walked over to see if there was a dent/scratch in the floor. It looked o.k., so I went back to the computer.

And that’s when the installer tapped me on the shoulder.

He walked me to the drawer that had fallen on the floor. I didn’t think much of it.

But then he pointed out the crack, the break.

Well, the guy’s deaf and maybe I should be amenable and then…

I notice the crack is on the outward facing panel. That a corner is essentially broken off.

And then my brain starts racing. They’re gonna want to write off the labor and make me keep the damaged unit. But I don’t want to, I’ve got a brand new office and anybody would see the broken corner.

So the installer starts typing that he’s gonna call his boss. How he’s gonna communicate with him I do not know.

And nothing is happening.

So after about fifteen minutes he types that he needs the wifi info. I know what he’s doing, he’s trying to hook up wifi calling, I’ve done it to everybody’s phone, works great.

But he’s on AT&T and it doesn’t work exactly the same way.

So, I just type in the password and give him the phone back.

Meanwhile, another person had texted me about confirming the appointment, yup they were relentless with the timing, so I texted that person.

She had to get in touch with the manager, who was unavailable. After a few back and forths, telling me said manager wouldn’t pick up, she gave me the number and I had the same experience.

Well, if she’s not the manager, who is she?

Meanwhile, about half an hour has gone by and the installer types that he can’t get ahold of his boss. Obviously, the same boss.

And now it’s nearly six and…

I go on Amazon, they’ve got a “Happiness Guarantee.” Woo-hoo!

But you go through the prompts and you end up sending a message to the installation company and are told to wait two days for a response.

Now I’ve got no idea what to do.

Meanwhile, the deaf guy is heaving. Audibly. I feel so bad for him. I mean being deaf, what are his job opportunities anyway? I don’t want him to get in trouble, I don’t want him to lose his job. I was going to tip him $30, but obviously not now, the project wasn’t even finished.

So now he starts typing on his phone again. Saying he’s sorry he broke the unit. I want to let him off the hook, but I’m not sure why I should bite the bullet and be confronted with a broken cabinet for years. I want a new one, one that is right, how hard can that be?

And suddenly the installer starts cleaning up. He pushes the unit on the floor, making me anxious about scratches again, but at this point what am I going to say.

And part of the deal is they throw out the detritus, the packaging. And he wants to know where to put it and I point to the garbage and then he forgets a bunch of cardboard and I’m lucky he turns toward me as I’m waving my hands and comes back.

And then he’s gone.


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