Probably My Fault

If it had only happened once or twice, blaming the contractor was probably the right thing to do. After the third time, it was probably my fault. Not that I was unreasonable. I paid the bill; excepting to get what I expected was justified.
What did I expect? Professional, courteous service. For them to do what we discussed. What I thought they had said. That was the murky area where things went wrong, between what I heard and what was written in the contracts.
I don’t think of myself as a senior. I’m old, but not all that old. Yet, there is a reason our cohort is called a vulnerable population. Too trusting. Decisions based on my perception of the salesperson, not doing enough research, and simply being too trusting.
As I write this, there is a pile of trash, a whole roof’s worth, jumbled on my front lawn. It was left there by the workmen who replaced my roof. Whole job done in day, just as promised. A good job, too. The roof looks great. But I don’t look at the roof and think, “Wow, that’s a great job.” I look at the lawn and think, “Where’s the dumpster he promised? Is this going to be taken away?”
Well, it turns out there is nothing in the contract about providing a dumpster. He said he would, but not in writing. Yeah, you would have caught it. I accepted the explanation the contract was “. . . boiler plate language, don’t worry about it. We’ll take care of everything.”
Yeah, maybe he will. Until Monday, I’m going to be pacing around that trash and peeking at it from the window. So, why not call and talk to him? Too nice. I’m waiting for his call or a drop by to see how the job was done. We retirees are also too nice; we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
Before that, it was the solar panel installation. Great job, love having solar. Too bad they installed it on a roof that needed repair. No, the roof didn’t look horrible, but a professional should would have seen it. Someone who makes a living up on roofs should have known it. Turns out their records are very pointed about asking me the condition of the roof. My vague, “We just bought the house. They told me the roof was new,” was adequate.
Turned out these people constructed our conversations to shift responsibility from the professional hired to do things right to the ignorant homeowner who was all too chatty. We Boomers like to talk, too much.
There are more examples, but why belabor the point? Probably my fault. What’s the solution? I have to go outside my comfort zone and deal with tradespeople with brevity and suspicion. It is an adversarial relationship. Things won’t change if I don’t. Or, as Darwin taught us, “Adapt or perish.”

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About the author

Scott Funk has specialized in Home Equity Conversion Mortgage reverse mortgages for over a decade. He is a recognized Aging in Place advocate in his home state of Vermont. His monthly newspaper column Aging in Place has run for 7 years in 24 papers around the state. Scott is brings a lighthearted approach to his talks on Boomers, retirement and aging on purpose.