Last year one of my students asked me when the last time was that I cried. The fact that I couldn't remember surprised him, but I explained that I am pretty good at controlling myself and that I don't like to get emotional like that.
Today, however, I broke down. After a fun excursion to Tiny Town with the Masons, which included Jack exclaiming "Choo choo!" a couple hundred times and drooling all over me in his excitement over ringing the bell on top of the model school house; I returned home to meet with my contractor.
I don't want to go into too many details here, but I have been unsatisfied with this contractor for a while now. Generally, he's been unreliable and is often confused, especially over details I've reviewed with him over and over again. Knowing this, I gave him a call around 1:00 to confirm (and remind him of) the appointment we had to meet at 3:00.
"We don't have an appointment today. We never had an appointment today," he said.
"Yes, we do," I assured him. "We set it up Monday, and you called me that evening and we confirmed the appointment again."
"I have no idea what you're talking about. We never made an appointment. I have a 3:00 today, but it's with a different client. I never spoke with you about it, and we never made an appointment. I don't think we even talked a few days ago. You're confused or making that whole conversation up."
This went on for about five minutes, with several not-so-subtle implications that I was either inept or manipulative or both. After the belittlement, he said that we seemed to have a problem with "connecting." I agreed. "What do you need from me to fix this?" I asked. "Should we do everything by email? Put it all in writing? What would help?"
And then he quit. "It's not working out," he says, "I don't understand what's going on with your insurance; I keep getting mixed signals from you; you've been really unclear with your intentions; I've been so busy this summer," and he quit.
He offered to give me the contact information for the various people he contracts with so I can hire them on my own to do the work. "That'll save you a couple thousand dollars," he offers. Which, yeah, would be good. He said he would call the two guys who were in my living room at the moment cutting drywall and explain the situation and ask them if they want to keep working on my place or not. And then we hung up.
And I knew that I was about to lose it. I kept it together long enough to grab my car keys, get out of my house, and back out of my garage. I couldn't be home because my home isn't a home right now and there were two guys working in there who may or may not be working there in an hour, so I just started driving and I started crying and, when I felt like I had a bit of handle on the sobbing, I called my mom.
My goodness, is my mom amazing. My parents are in the middle of adding a new doctor to their practice, which is no easy task. When I called her she was at their office moving furniture around to create a new examination space for him, and I knew she's wrestling with insurance and licensing to get this guy going on top of all of the billing and office-management she does normally. And what does she do when her daughter calls her sobbing (because of course any emotional control I had scraped together flew out the window as soon as I started recapping the conversation)? She offers to drop everything and fly out immediately to help.
Like I said, amazing.
She talked me off the metaphorical ledge (and by "ledge" I mean my sudden conviction that I could live with concrete floors and unfinished walls) and I convinced her that I could handle things at least until the weekend. My parents will probably come out then, which I didn't do a very good job of talking them out of mostly because I've missed them both this summer and I do want to see them. She offered advice, offered a plan of attack, and offered a heck of a lot of sympathy and support. Then, red-eyed but under control once more, I drove home to talk to the guys in my living room.
They're going to keep working, and tomorrow morning we'll work out the numbers for me to hire them on my own. That's one less worry for the moment, and while the contractor is not the only source of stress with this project (my insurance company is refusing to pay for any of the painting or flooring, I go back to work Monday, my bed is surrounded by my living room furniture, etc.), I am glad to see my interactions with him end.
He called me a little while later. "The funniest thing just happened!" he said, cheerfully. "I went to my 3:00 and there was nobody there! I think I figured out what happened. I must have thought I was talking to Pat and Ed when I made that appointment, but I wasn't! I was talking to you, wasn't I? Don't you remember me saying 'Ed' when we talked?"
"Well, I'm sure I did. You probably weren't listening to me. I'm sure I mentioned talking to Ed at the time. Anyway, today's 3:00 must have been with you! I apologize for that. You know, they're just like you - a flood, they were out of town - I just mixed you guys up. I could use a vacation myself. Boy, I've been busy. But it turns out that my 3:00 today must have been with you. Isn't that funny?"