How to ask for a jack

In one of the many emails back and forth with my father about the new house, he reminded me of the story about the motorist late at night. He had gotten a flat tire on a country road and it was close to bedtime. He needed to borrow a jack to change the tire and saw a farmhouse nearby. As he headed towards the house he started worrying about disturbing the family at such a late hour and was anticipating the worst reaction from whomever was home. Just before reaching the house, the light went out inside and it looked like everyone was going to bed. The motorist felt even worse but pressed on and decided to knock on the front door anyways. By that point he had scripted the worst possible reaction, so that when the farmer calmly opened the door, the motorist blurted out, “JUST KEEP YOUR DAMNED OLD JACK!!!” My father's point was that if there's a lack of communication, you're prone to fear the worst possible outcome. The longer we didn't hear from our contractor and didn't know what the plan was, the more we were convinced we had made a horrible decision and this contractor had taken our money to spend it on hookers and blow. I left two voicemails yesterday with Bill (our contractor) and sent him an email last night. I called him again at 1:30 this afternoon and when I hadn't heard from him an hour later, Rich called the main office. Within 15 minutes we heard from the owner and everyone started feeling better.

I told Burt (the owner) that I don't want he or Bill to tell me what they think I want to hear, but just to tell me something. Amazingly enough, I got straight answers. They have two other jobs that have come up all of a sudden now and those folks are freaking out. One is a couple starting their own business and have been delayed for months before they could start construction and spending tons in rent to not be able to open. The other is a lady whose house was damaged in the tornadoes last month and has been living in a hotel waiting on a check from her insurance agency before they could start construction. Burt explained that this lady was cryin' on the phone and they were short-handed and he didn't want to make excuses but he just wanted me to know what was going on.

We can't reach Bill because he has a new cell phone and it's being a giant pain in the ass (I've seen this phone and it is way more complicated than it needs to be). Burt said that even he was having a hard time getting Bill on the phone but that Bill was a good guy and was just having a hard time right now. Bill also has a lady friend that's taking up more of his emotional energy right now, and I can empathize with how a new relationship can turn your world on its side. I had wondered when we first talked to Bill how he could have any social life if he worked so much and I think we just figured out he can't easily. Burt and I had a good talk and then Bill and I had a good talk and we're all supposed to talk again tomorrow. I told them both I didn't want them to rush to get something done, I just needed to stay in the loop.

I'm guardedly optimistic right now. We'll see if Bill or Burt can give us a call tomorrow and if we can have a good talk about the dormers and the things the framers are going to finish. We picked this company because Bill seemed like a straight-forward kind of guy. I have a lot more patience with folks who are trying to do the right thing and get overwhelmed than folks who are liars. Until I talked to them on the phone, I was ready to file complaints and read everyone the riot act. But now I'm willing to give them another chance and see how this turns out. I'd much rather hear that Bill is a bit overwhelmed but they plan on making things right than some random lie.

I told Rich that Bill was having some professional stress right now mixed with some personal issues with his lady friend. He started to frown until I reminded him how we both struggled to focus on work or a full night's sleep when he and I were first dating. He agreed, "I could see that, since I have a hard time thinking of anything else compared to you." The feeling is mutual, baby.