On Sunday, I get word the contractor/carpenter/handyman/plumber will be by at one on Monday afternoon to carry out minor repairs to the ceiling.
Now, in Jamaica, when a plumber, electrician, painter or any such tradesman says he’s coming at a particular time, it really means one of two things:
1. He’s not coming at that time.
2. He’s not coming at all.
Therefore, if you need to wash your hair, clip your toenails, buy phone credit, watch a re-run of Religious Hardtalk, make a sandwich and mix drink, go right ahead. I have dealt with enough tradesmen, in town and country, to confidently say, they have poor time management skills. Am I right or am I right? Talk to me if your plumber is always Mr. Right-On-Time. I may recant.
In my naive days, when a tradesman said he was coming at x-time, I’d make way in my schedule and sit and wait.
Then call and wait some more.
When I quickly recognized their tardy tendencies and decided I’d have none of it, I’d call, bug them, quarrel with them about respect and punctuality until they eventually arrived at the door.
I don’t know if it’s the St. Ann air or if I’m getting mellow in my old age, but I’ve reached a point where I’ve stopped stressing out myself.
So, this country plumber, who I’ll call “Plumber” to protect his identity, says he’ll be by at one on Monday. True to form, the clock strikes one on Monday afternoon, and Plumber is nowhere near my gate.
At minutes to two, which is a vast improvement over previous months, I hear him hollering out my name outside the front grill. I chew up and swallow the piece of feistiness I want to spit out (because he really is quite an amiable chap) and holler back, “Plumber, is you dat?”
He works. I edit my book. We chat about the runnings in our neck of the woods. He wraps up before nightfall, apologizes for the debris all over the floor. I tell him, no problem. I grab the broom and sweep up. We agree he’ll return the next day around 11-ish to repaint the ceiling. I store his toolbox at the bottom of the staircase, so he doesn’t have too much load to lug about on his trip back.
He returns around 11 or 12-ish the following day and finishes up. Then he does something I’ll forever be grateful for as long as I have breath in this body. He scales the naseberry tree, which I’ve been eying for months. He picks naseberries for me, himself and the neighbour while vigilante puppy is on the other side of the yard barking, now and again, to assert his presence.
For me, Plumber’s act reinforces two important things:
1. How thoughtful human beings can be–even if they can’t tell time.
2. I cannot catch to save mi life.
Maasah/Missis Ma, the man is high up in di tree. He throws down a big, ole, almost-ripe naseberry and bawl out, “Catch!” In true city-chick style, I squeal, cup my hands, turn my head away and hope, somehow, by some miraculous intervention of the Almighty, the fruit lands in my palms. Of course, the naseberry drop a groun’ and burst, and he’s forced to rethink his strategy. So, I use a long pole to send up a scandal bag, and he uses that to collect the naseberries.
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Catch yuh next time!
Peace and love,