The Tradesmen Cometh (with apologies to Flanders and Swann) by Trevor Plumbly
It was on a Monday morning that the gloom descended: there was no hot water. As I can remember the weekly tin bath in front of the fire, it wasn’t that much of a big deal; if you’re the youngest you get in last and lukewarm is what happens. But to the better half, anything short of scalding ranks up there with national disasters. Being the homebody, I was responsible for getting things fixed. I know I’ve expressed my concerns about computer dependency to you all in the past, but in the light of the seriousness of the task I had been charged with, I felt it was time to put prejudice aside in favour of matrimonial harmony and with trembling hands googled…’Water heater repairs Auckland’. I was instantly besieged with a long list of folks, each boasting of their individual ability to solve the crisis. Some trumpeted experience dating back to outside toilet days, others membership of ‘The Master Plumbers Association’. But for me, the winning enticement was ‘Same day service’, coupled with ‘On call 24/7’ and most important, experienced with my particular brand; how could anyone resist that? A chirpy receptionist asked me a variety of details regarding the model of appliance that was causing the problem, none of which I was able to answer not being a plumber as well as blind as a bat, so it was mutually decided that a man should call.
A Bright Spark
True to the advertised word, the plumber arrived and, as is usual, I left him to his own devices. Tradesmen, I’ve found, charge strictly by the hour and pleasantries can get included. Sometime later he appeared at the door and handed me a small square plastic thingy, ‘It’s your thermostat,’ he uttered knowingly, ‘it’s rooted, so I’ve replaced it.’ He then presented a bill for $217-00 which included a ‘call out charge’. I’ve yet to understand the logic of actually paying someone to come and do a job that they’re going to get paid for anyway, but I suppose that it’s their game and they’ve got all the cards. Before leaving, he topped his visit off by advising me that if his efforts didn’t work I should call a ‘sparky’ . . . They didn’t work. The electrician arrived the following day and after a few minutes, announced that he had made a temporary solution, but the problem was that the ‘air conditioning unit’ was faulty and leaking, that I should tell the plumber to come back and fix it. I rang the plumber and passed on this news hoping it might help, but Miss Chirpy informed me that they didn’t ‘do’ air conditioning units, only cylinders. By this time I was beginning to feel that maybe the job was too big, even for Google.
I decided that the best course of action was to contact the makers; they in turn directed me to ‘TOP-LINE TRADE SERVICES’. Sharon was pure business rather than chirpy, but nevertheless confirmed that I would need an air conditioning bloke to fix things, but she would still ask around. By this time I was beginning to feel that our little cottage had morphed into a sort of monetary mecca for anyone with a toolbox. Dave, plumber number 2, arrived this morning and fixed the problem quickly and efficiently.
An interesting week in our place: it’s taken three different firms four days to fix one problem, but apart from the sizeable dent in our bank account and a sneaking suspicion that some tradesmen might see me as a sort of benevolent patron, there’s no real harm done, and as dear old Flanders and Swann would have it, ‘It All Makes Work For The Working Man To Do’.