Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Take 2

So an old friend over at http://medicineballs.blogspot.com/ has moved her blog, and so I thought I should try this again. ... Like I need one more thing to distract me from work.

So why don't I start out with my Thursday and Friday from last week:

So the full story for the day (nearly a full 24 hours):

Thursday at about 4:00, Jennifer called me at work to say that she was vacuuming and the circuit breaker had tripped, and would not reset. I told her to unplug everything, and turn off all of the lights, and try again. Nothing.

This one circuit breaker controls: the hallway plug (where the vacuum was plugged in) but not the hallway lights, the lights and fans in the bathrooms but not the plugs which are on the GFCI breaker, the master bedroom, and the office.

I came home and made sure everything had been unplugged, and still it wouldn't reset. I called out landlady Judy and told her about it. I gave her the number for 4 emergency service electricians, the first 4 in the yellow pages (they have a half page ad each).

Being the techno person I am, I need my computer, so I disassemble it from the office, and move it onto the dining room table. That took forty minutes.

I go on to make dinner, and around 7:30 there's a knock at the door. It's the electrician who is on the phone with Judy. He hands the phone to me and she says, "They didn't call you did they?" I told her no, and we worked out the details of approval. He came in and looked at the breaker board, and how much of the house was out of power. Then he wrote up a form, said he could be here at 8:00 Friday morning, got my cell phone number, and left to have his dispatch call Judy.

About 8:30 Judy called me and said that to diagnose the problem (the estimate was free) would be $700. Judy said that was outrageous, wasn't going to pay it, and that she would try to find someone Friday. I tell her all I need is 10 minutes notice, and I can meet the electrician she chooses at the house.

I go on to set three alarms (two alarm clocks and the cell phone) because I don't know if the plug-in alarms will go off with only battery power. This ends up being a waste of time because I am unable to get to sleep before 1:00 AM, sleep lightly not trusting the alarms and lacking the right lights in the room, and wake up half an hour before the alarms are supposed to go off anyway.

I go in to work, and wait for a call from either Judy or the electrician.

At 11:00 AM, I call Judy, and ask if perhaps the electrician had not called me, arrived, and left complaining. She said she had left a message with one, but had not heard back yet. I decide I will go home for lunch so that I'm not interrupted at wherever I decide to eat.

At 12:30 I still have not heard from Judy, so I call again. She says she has left other messages with this new electrician. It is one that her realtor friend has recommended to her. She gives me the name and I start calling him, and leaving messages.

A little before 2:00 I call Judy to tell her how nothing is happening. She suggests finding someone myself, perhaps asking for a recommendation from people at work or the complex. I call Jennifer and ask her for advice, and then I remember that my parents have just had their place remodeled and raved about the contractor and electrician that redid the downstairs.

So I call Dad. Dad gives me the contractor's number, and I call Carlos Duque. I get his wife, and she gives me his cell phone number; I call the cell phone, introduce myself, give him my relation to Marty and Janet Appel, and he says that he will call his electrician right away. Five minutes later he calls me back and says that his electrician will call me, and says that if Roberto does not call in 15 minutes to call him (Carlos) back. Five minutes later, Roberto calls me. He's in Pittsburg, and gets directions.

Roberto arrives about 3:00 PM. He's friendly, he tried the circuit breaker, he gets the tour of where the power is off, and the story of how it happened. The first thing he checks is the plug where the vacuum was plugged in. Nothing is wrong there. Then he tells me that this must be a special job because when Carlos called him he said that he had a quick job for him to do and that Roberto had to do, and could not say no. Roberto was going to ask why, but Carlos just told him to do it, and hung up. I told him how I had gotten Carlos' number, and he remembered the work at my parents' house and said how nice it had turned out. And that he could understand why Carlos was so insistent on this job getting done quickly. Then we went out to the breaker board.

He says, "That whole section is controlled by one breaker?" I say yes. He says, "But look here; it's only a 15 amp breaker." He takes the old circuit breaker out and says he'll check his truck for another one. He does, and as he's installing it he checks the gauge of the wire, and says that if it had been bigger than 14 gauge he could have put in a 20 amp breaker, but that he really can't with the size of the wire. He puts in the new breaker, flips it over, and it stays. We go inside and all the lights work. I ask him what I owe him, and he says $60 including the cost of the new breaker.

Now for strange and mysterious reasons, I only have a $100 bill and we're out of checks (of course), so I ask him if he has $40 in change. He says no, but that I can just mail him the money. I offer to go break it at the bank, but he says not to worry. I then sheepishly ask him for an invoice to give to Judy so that we have proof to deduct the cost from our rent. He says he doesn't have it on him but will come back and give me one then. I say I'll run to the bank, and meet him here when he gets back, he says that I misunderstood him, he'll come back Saturday and drop off the invoice. Then he tells me that I don't need to wait around for him, if I'm not home, he'll leave it and I can still mail the money to him. He packs up and leaves. It is now 3:20 PM. Judy calls to ask how it's going, I tell her and she is thrilled with it being done and only costing $60.

Should any of you in the San Francisco Bay Area need a contractor or an electrician, e-mail me for Carlos' and/or Roberto's number.

Now I have to not feel bad because Roberto left his flashlight here. I'll give it to him tomorrow with his money.

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