Friday, December 30, 2011

A Painter's Promise

Earlier this week, I was glad to hear that a close friend of mine, a NYC painter, had started to see a tremendous influx of work after a particularly dire dry spell. We met years ago, at the retirement party of a colleague of his that I apprenticed under for a summer, and we kept in touch, even worked on a few jobs together. He’s been around for a while and has some experience and, as such, I was glad to hear about the work but was woe to hear about the circumstances that brought him the job.

There are varying theories on just how much responsibility is put on painters, and all other handymen and service providers for that matter, when they take up a job. The times I’ve worked with painters, the only major responsibility we put to the customer was clearing out the way and ensuring none of their larger, more valuable items got splattered. My friend the painter (there’s no harm, I suppose, in referring to him as “Mike”) requests this service as well but I’ve seen him move more than one or two couches in our day.

One thing that is commonplace, however, is that the painter takes care of any repairs, as long as they are paid a reasonable amount for their time and labor. The gross lack of these minor considerations was the reason Mike was called into a young couple’s home in Seaford to steam and strip some wallpaper and paint. As was relayed to me, the original painter, an independent four-man crew, promised to have the work done within a week, didn’t contact the woman of the house for nearly three weeks (despite several phone calls to them) and then cited the fact that she hadn’t removed the wallpaper yet as the reason they didn’t start, even though they had originally stipulated that they would take care of cleaning and repairing before painting the walls.

Steaming and stripping wallpaper is hardly a job that requires any sort of expertise. Renting a steamer is a simple task and there are numerous ways to learn how to properly use the device. The one I used (I’ve only had the privilege four times in my life) consisted of a three-foot-high tank with rubber tubing running to a large square (about 2’5”x 2’5”) that emits heavy doses of steam. You press the square against a desired area for about 20 seconds to half-a-minute and use a paint scraper to remove the loosened wallpaper.

As would be expected, there are certain patches that require repair from the process, most of which can be fixed with some joint compound, a taping knife and some sandpaper to even out the repaired area. Even if it was more of a chore, however, it certainly isn’t something that would cause a three-week delay, and that is disregarding the fact that no one said that he had to ensure the repairs in the first place! Again, I am glad enough to see Mike happy and working but the NYC handyman in me gets riled by such deplorable behavior.