I know this is naïve, but when our contractor told us the bathroom renovation would take five weeks, I actually believed it would take five weeks. Ok, I did have a skeptical moment when I asked, “Five consecutive weeks?” By which I meant contiguous weeks. And even though I didn’t use that word (because it seemed pompous under the circumstances), we all knew what I was asking: five weeks, one after the other, with no extra weeks in between them?
“Yes, yes,” he said. “Five weeks. Six at the outside.” And I’m sure he meant it when he said it, just like all men mean what they’re promising you at that breathless point when you’re handing over what they’ve been lobbying for. Which, in this case, was money.
It is one of my shortcomings (aka: raisins) to regard this kind of broken promise as some sort of personal betrayal. And I think that once it became clear to me that this bathroom was not going to be done in five weeks (which would have been before school ended), or seven weeks (which would have been before the teenager went on his journey), or ten weeks (which would have been now), the whole process just started making me a little cranky.
So, when I spoke to the contractor the other day, trying (as I typically have) to get a handle on the time-line for the remaining work, I was a little gruff. I was ready to launch into some spiel or other that would have made him feel really small and apologetic, and which would ultimately not have made me feel better (because I really don’t want him to feel bad, I just want my bathroom to be finished), but it turned out to be completely unnecessary. Because he already felt small and apologetic and helpless and distraught. I could hear all those things in his shaky voice as he told me that he’d just made the decision to shut down his company. That the recession had hit him long and hard, and after he finished up our job and a few others that he was working on, he was going to do the unimaginable: discontinue the family business he’d worked his whole life building for him and his son.
So, that kind of mellowed me out about the whole time line thing. Consecutive. Contiguous. It just shut me right the fuck up.