After the Fact: It’s a small world


There aren’t too many things that, between the daughter and I, cannot be managed in the arena of household maintenance and repair. Some projects cost more than if we had a resident handyman: until we found a new and better mousetrap, we simply disposed of both rodent and trap rather than hazard touching something icky. 

But we also know when we’re in over our heads and have to seek professional help as when Chris broke the glass from the base of a light bulb in a fixed outlet. We couldn’t figure out how to tell if the power was still on without electrocuting one or the other of us, so we called a neighbor. It took Levi less than three seconds to remove the base and insert a new light bulb. We paid him with a loaf of bread and a half-dozen muffins.

My brothers laughed non-stop while helping me move into the house I now own. It is a work in progress, a real “fixer-upper,” and they found it greatly entertaining to remind me that I scarcely know how to use a hammer. I have been through a succession of handymen from outright bandits to a true Michelangelo of the profession, Mike Young.  A really good handyman is worth his weight in gold and a lot more difficult to find.

One “Christian” group hired to do some outdoor painting was, as we later discovered, proficient at the “bait and switch,” replacing a more expensive stain we’d provided with a cheaper product that peeled off in huge strips after a winter of actually moderate snow.  As they say, “shoulda known” after they did much the same thing to Suzie and Butch Rawls, two of the sweetest, most giving people ever to grace the Valley. 

Sad but true, the single woman is still at a disadvantage when it comes to buying almost anything that comes from a supplier other than Walmart or the grocery store. They are equally handicapped when it comes to having same installed or repaired. Even a well-known dealer is not above chicanery. I understand that my plumber is a skilled professional and the cost of his service cannot always be held to an estimate. The same is true of an electrician and a mechanic and many other service providers. However, when I’m charged $100 for 15 minutes of “labor” to turn off three dashboard “warning” lights, it feels like highway robbery. And when one of the lights comes back on a week later, I know I’ve been cheated, particularly when the “broken” item isn’t really “broken.”

As with being unhappy over the results of an election, the recourse to such “theft” is to not give the business a second opportunity to take my money. And a politician that fails to live up to promises will not get a second vote. It’s part and parcel the same as knowing that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

Having been employed in some phase of advertising, marketing and/or promotions for a number of years, I can safely say I know nothing about why people will buy one widget and not another or shop in Big Something instead of Big Some-Thing stores. People value everyday courtesy, service, honesty, going out of your way to help  I’ve noticed that, since changing parent companies, my favorite grocery store no longer encourages the people checking you out to ask if you might need help getting your basket to the car. And they wonder why people are disinclined to return their baskets to the store or to the “corrals.”

Never, ever underestimate the value of “word of mouth” advertising, particularly in a small town. If you’ve messed up, figure out a way to apologize and if you say you’ll call back, do it. And never, ever overestimate your importance in this small town.

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