By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
In the 22 years my wife, Sue, and I have owned our house, we have had an open-door policy: Whenever work needs to be done, we open our door to a variety of handymen, licensed professionals and other skilled workers who can do what I can’t, which is practically everything.
As the Least Handy Man in America, even I knew that we should have installed a revolving door (which would have required the services of yet another laborer) because so many things needed fixing recently that our humble abode looked like the set of a Hollywood blockbuster.
The cast included Anthony the Contractor, Chris the Carpenter and Painter, Mario the Spackler, Andy the Plumber, Ed the Electrician, and Luis, Don, Richard and Raul the Burner Boys.
The work included ripping up the family room carpet, installing a vinyl floor, spackling the ceiling and then painting it, all of which needed to be done because of water damage that also ruined a kitchen cabinet, which had to be removed, as did part of the soffit above the sink. The empty space, which contained traces of mold, had to be cleaned before a new corner cabinet, which was tough to find, could be installed by Anthony and his son Mateo.
Then there were plumbing and electrical issues involving a bleeder valve in an upstairs bedroom (the water leaked down to the kitchen) and the conking out of the downstairs thermostat, which made the house feel like a sauna. It didn’t help that we had to pay for everything in cold cash.
“The Money Pit” had nothing on us. As I told Sue in the midst of all this craziness, “Home is where the heart attack is.”
But it was actually fun. And all the guys, who wore face masks and kept a social distance, were great. So was their workmanship.
Every morning, Anthony and Chris (and sometimes Mario or Andy) would come over for a hard day’s work, which couldn’t begin until Sue and I gave them breakfast. On the menu were coffee, bagels and doughnuts. Butter, cream cheese, milk and sugar also were available.
“Service with a smile!” Sue chirped.
“I’d make eggs,” I said, “but I’m afraid I would burn the house down.”
“Even we couldn’t fix that,” said Anthony.
The guys would work until lunch. I am always out to lunch, but on these days I stayed in. Sometimes Anthony and Chris went out, too, but on other days they also stayed in. I ordered pizza a couple of times and once Sue served corned beef sandwiches. There were homemade cookies for dessert.
“You’re making us fat,” Anthony said.
“Growing boys need their nourishment,” Sue told them.
“Besides,” I added, “you’re really working it off.”
One day, the work started at 7:30 in the morning, when Mario came over to spackle, and ended at 7:30 at night, when Luis came over to check out the thermostat. (Long story short: We had to order a new one.)
Another day, Jason and Mike the Pest Control Guys came over but stayed outside when I told them I was the pest inside.
“I don’t think we could control you,” Jason said.
After Andy fixed our plumbing problem, Sue said, “We’ll call you if we have any more cracks.”
I pointed to my head, which prompted Andy to say, “I don’t think I could fix that one.”
When Ed, who had done great electrical work for us before, came back to check out some wires, Sue said, “Let’s have a party!”
It was a party every day. But all good, noisy, dusty things must come to an end.
“I miss them,” Sue said when Anthony and Chris left.
“They’ll be back,” I replied. “A house is not a home unless there’s something to do.”
Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima