Tuesday, June 27, 2006

To the Tune of "Dueling Banjos"

Ok, so I am not the most mechanically inclined person. How long would you estimate that it would take a licensed electrician to install a ceiling fan? 1 hour? 2 hours? How about FOUR FREAKING HOURS!!!

I had explained my dilemma with carving into the ceiling over the phone. Apparently, the electrician wasn’t too impressed with my needs, as he sent his bumbling assistant over first to my house. Let’s just call him Darryl. Ru and I had already completely removed the old ceiling fan, so there were just some wires hanging down from a bare plaster ceiling. I explained to Darryl that the new fan was very heavy and would require strong support. Darryl talked to his boss (let’s just call him Darryl, too) over the phone and was told that he would need to put in a new electric box with a bracket to support the weight.

However, Darryl instead decided to just find a stud in the ceiling and really put a lot of screws into it for support. About 45 minutes had passed by and I walked through the living room and noticed that there was only one screw in the ceiling and Darryl was just kind of staring up blankly. I asked him what he was doing, and this is the conversation that ensued:

“I’m trying to find a stud to screw this thing into,” said Darryl #1.

“Do you need any help?”

“No, I’m just having a hard time finding the stud.”

“Would you like a stud finder?” I suggested.

“Do you have one of those?” asked Darryl #1 excitedly, with a look of glee.

“Um, yeah. Here you go.”

“Whoa! I was just going to put in a bunch of screws everywhere until I started hitting stuff!”

“No problem.” I continued to watch Darryl #1 as he placed the short end of the stud finder against the ceiling.

“Here, this thing doesn’t work,” he said perplexedly, and handed the brand-new tool back to me.

“Um, you have to put the long end of it against the surface, so you can see the bulbs light up at you.”

“Oh, right.”

At this point, I was pretty sure Darryl #1 needed to be preoccupied until the real electrician came over. He still looked confused as to how to expand the hole in the ceiling. At this point, he was using my ladder, and my meager collection of tools. I distracted him briefly by showing him the other ceiling fan I’d bought for the master bedroom that had no preexisting light fixture. After a bit of scrunching up his face, he decided that going through the floor of my attic to get into my bedroom ceiling was a little outside his scope of practice, and he headed back towards the living room project.

Oh, crap. I thought, as an hour had passed and the real electrician had yet to show up. Darryl #1 went on his first smoke break. I told him that my doorbell was also not working, so after some complicated unscrewing of the ringer and looks of befuddlement at some basic wiring, he was able to clean it up a bit, and I now have a buzzer that sounds rather like a tired cow bellowing its last breath. Fortunately, Darryl #2 then pulled into the driveway.

Darryl #2 quickly assessed the job, and decided a ceiling medallion was needed to cover up the hole that needed to be enlarged in the ceiling. After being in my house for about 10 minutes, he took off to the hardware store, and set Darryl #1 back to work on the ceiling.

Darryl #2 was gone for over an hour. Poor Ru and I didn’t know what to do with Darryl #1, so we set to screwing brackets onto the fan blades and let him “supervise” our work. He then took a second smoke break, and I was feeling homicidal as there was no cool breeze to be found and I felt imprisoned in my own home with a musky-smelling moron.

Finally, Darryl #2 returned, claiming there had been an accident on the highway that held him up. He briefly got Darryl #1 to return to the project and chatted me up in the kitchen while I unloaded the dishwasher. By that time we were about 3 ½ hours into the project and he explained that he wouldn’t be able to get to the upstairs fan that night. I explained to him that I didn’t want him to come back if there was going to be another $85 service fee involved. He reassured me that there would not be, and also that he would not be charging me for all of the time they’d spent at my house, as much of it had not involved working.

Since I had an actual licensed electrician in my kitchen I decided to get as many free opinions out of him as I could while his idiot savant labored in the living room. I showed him the basement and attic that I want to rewire. He inspected my circuit box, and I think realized that I might be a potential source of revenue in the future, and reassured me that they would come back another day to do the fan in my master bedroom and would drastically reduce the charge. There was quite a bit of winking on his part, especially once he found out that I was an intern and had also surmised that I am single. He wasn’t bad looking, just a bit too old for me, and obviously lazy. Now I’m thinking of asking/begging one of my fellow interns to be a decoy boyfriend on the day that he returns as Ru will be abandoning me to return to the peace and quiet of Seattle.

Darryl #2 took off, and Darryl #1 finally got out of my house. The fan works wonderfully, but I’ve been halfway expecting to find it in a million pieces on the floor every time I return home.

So here it is, the ceiling fan in all of its glory:

I almost forgot: the job also cost me one Phillips screwdriver. I own(ed) four screwdrivers: 2 flatheads, and 2 Phillips, a large and small of each. Darryl #1 started mixing in his tools with mine. I pointed out to him that he had taken my screwdriver, but he insisted that it was his, and kind of growled protectively. Because I know that the treatment for rabies is painful, I decided to just surrender the screwdriver. Whatever. Hopefully, the job on Thursday will be much less eventful, and I will be hiding my toolbox!


These are gargantuan sundaes that Ru and I had treated ourselves to the day before. I got about halfway through mine and felt nauseous. We ended up skipping dinner that night as we were both so full.


This is a flower arrangement and two bottles of sparkling wine given to me by the former owners.

It almost makes up for the huge-ass pile of trash on the curb that they left in their wake. It wouldn’t have been so bad except that they left it on Friday and today finally trash day. The bags were out in the open, so they were pawed through by interested neighbors, trash was artfully spread across the lawn by skunks, and it has rained so much that by today everything was so water-logged that it was twice as heavy.


I really hope that Ru has enjoyed her visit. It certainly was a high-stress drive and move for me. Not to mention that the past two days I’ve been busy at the hospital with boring orientation stuff, so she’s been left to her own resources. I think our friendship has grown a little more, and I’m sad she’s leaving tomorrow.


ru said...

To the tune of a Ted Nugent song, That's FREAKIN wild!!

~~Silk said...

Beautiful fixture. It suits the style of the house. (However, the lights will generate heat, which the fan will helpfully spread downward - nice in the winter, but something to keep in mind on hot summer evenings.)

Sarah said...

hahha. I just read this post and the one before it. Lots of funny stuff. Does the hospital have a gym you can workout in for free?????

Chris said...

OMG Kate, I'm not laughing at you.....

ah hell, yes I am.

Your great bar story reminds of two stories.

First, Alexis and I bought a NICE ceiling fan for our bedroom in Florida. It was $220 and the place subbed out installation for a flat $40. The poor dude spent about 3 hours because the home builder had left a brace in between the studs above the light switch. Best $40 I ever spent.

The other thing it reminds me of was replacing the exhaust fan in my water closet in our main bathroom. A simple swap out ended with me lying in our 212 degree attic, lying on insulation in a narrow crawlspace.....

home improvement sucks

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