The ultimate cowboy builder

Home improvement can be a stressful experience. There are two words in particular that are guaranteed to raise the blood pressure: ‘COWBOY BUILDER.’ We’ve all been there – especially in the case of falling for a too-good-to-be-true Yellow Pages advert.

As I write this, my brother and Dad are furiously searching through the kitchen drawers to find an industrial sized padlock for the shed door. Usually, you’d use a padlock to protect valuable items, but no, this time, the padlock is to stop our new Polish builder from sneaking in to sleep there in the middle of the night. It sounds like a comedy sketch, but somehow, my Dad has ended up with the laziest, craziest and frankly, most insane builder you could imagine.

It all began last week when Dad decided it was time to get someone in to fix his crumbling garden wall. The builder sold himself pretty well, claiming he’d built fifteen houses in Warsaw that had lasted thirty years…so far. It sounded promising, until it became clear he didn’t know what cement looked like. Maybe he had been building dolls houses?

It was immediately clear to my parents that timekeeping wasn’t the guy’s strong point…first day, he was two hours late. Superb start. When my Mum asked him if he wanted a coffee, he gave the bizarre response of: “No, I don’t want to drink coffee because it will keep me awake.” (This was at 11am). So, my parents left him to get on with it, and a few hours later he was nowhere to be seen.

Dad rushed into the garden to investigate, and was faced with what can only be described as a ‘trail of destruction.’ This included a wheelbarrow full of cement (left to solidify) with the spade sticking out; two open paint cans and a series of cement lined footprints, which led to the shed. Not quite knowing what to expect, Dad slowly opened the shed door, only to find the builder fast asleep in the chair, under the cat’s blanket with his shoes off! Upon being woken up, his casual response was: “Oh, I must have dropped off.”

As an apology, he brought a loaf of bread and a box of chocolates for my Dad the next day. Unconventional, some might say. An hour later, Dad found him wandering around in his yellowed Y-Fronts. I know the weather was hot….but a bit inappropriate perhaps? All I can say is, I’m glad I wasn’t around to see this. Things soon got worse and worse and instead of buying terracotta coloured paint he bought a large supply of cream paint because apparently, he preferred the colour. He also said he was going to invite his girlfriend round who was a specialist cleaner. She was particularly good at climbing on roofs and getting moss off. Ideally, I think Mum would have preferred someone who was good with a duster, rather than a harness and a scraper!

Finding him asleep again was the final straw. Instead of apologising, he simply explained that the chair was irresistibly comfortable. He then went on to explain that he had fallen asleep in the shed as the night before he’d had a bust up with his brother and spent the night on a park bench. He said the shed was much more comfortable and he could get a good night’s sleep in there: hence the padlock.

In case you’re wondering, he’s got a pretty free schedule and is looking for work again now, so if anyone needs a builder…

© 2011 Alicia Drewnicki