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Friday, March 14, 2008

Every Time We Take One Step Forward You Take Two Steps Back

I’m sure you’re all just dying to know how the drywall installation portion of our massive sound baffling project is coming along, aren’t you?

Well, too bad, because you’re going to hear about it anyway; after all, why should I be the only one to suffer?

When last we left off on Tuesday, five guys had just hauled 9,000 pounds (yes, a full half-ton more than my original estimate) of drywall into the theatre in anticipation of the arrival of the installers the next day.

I arrived promptly at 8:00 a.m. Wednesday to let them in, and found one guy with a bag of tools standing out in front of the entrance. Okay, the rest of his crew must be running late, I thought.


Turns out Bruce, the Hardwall Guy had sent ONE PERSON to do the job.

I took him upstairs, he looked around, listened for a couple of minutes to my description of the project and the sequence of how it was supposed to be done, then stated, “I can’t do all that by myself!” (which seemed pretty obvious to me – and should have to Bruce, who had been on-site twice before himself). So, after a brief telephone consultation, Bruce agreed to contact his “hanging crew”, and see if he could get them to come in that afternoon, promising to call me back as soon as he had more details. So, I decided to hang out at the theatre, since I had some tax prep work I could do in the meantime.

By 2:30 p.m. I still hadn’t heard back from Bruce, and when I called to check in, he said, “Oh, yeah. They’re still at another job, so they can’t come in until tomorrow. Sorry, I meant to call you.” Right, thanks. (Are you beginning to get that communication ISN’T one of this guy’s stronger attributes?)

At this point, I’m starting to get a little panicky, and I begin wondering if perhaps I should be formulating some sort of “Plan B”, in case the guy flakes out on me completely. Fortunately, wiser heads prevail and the staff decides to wait 24 hours before considering other options.

Yesterday at around 10:00 a.m. I get a call from “Al”, another of Bruce’s associates, who informs me he has some scaffolding he wants to drop off at the space for the crew, and can someone let him in? Okay, this is better; I’m actually hearing the words “scaffolding” and “crew”, which implies some forward movement is occurring. He agrees to swing by my office, and I hand off a set of keys along with some instructions I’ve written up, and which I verbally go over before sending him on his way. He says somebody will get in touch with me later in the day to confirm the arrival of the crew for either that afternoon or first thing on Friday.

At about 2:00 p.m. Al calls again to say he’s dropped off the scaffolding, but he just heard from the crew, and they won’t be able to make it in today; they’re behind schedule on their current project, because they’ve lost several people due to illness the past few days – reasonable enough, given the flu that’s been going around up here recently. But, he assures me they’ll arrive first thing in the morning.

Which brings us to today.

I get a call from Bruce at 7:30 a.m. this morning, just seconds after my alarm clock goes off, saying the crew had arrived, but was having trouble getting in, and could I come down and help them out? Okay, fine. Actual crew ready to do actual work, sounds good. I threw on just enough clothing to keep from being arrested, jumped on "Little Nellie", and scooted down to the theatre.

No crew to be seen.

I call Bruce back, and he gets on another phone to the crew, "they say they're at the 1100 block of Pike Street -"

"Um, Pike Street or EAST Pike Street?" I ask.

"Oh." Pause. "They say they're down by the freeway."

"That would be Pike St. They need to come up about 10 blocks to East Pike. I'll be waiting for them."

So, about half an hour goes by, and finally a truck pulls up to the construction site across the street. The driver is glancing around like he's looking for something, so I figure this must be them.

Sure enough, it's the crew; they've been driving around for 20 minutes looking for our sign on Pike (*sigh!*), but anyway, here they are. We go upstairs and I start explaining the job - again. Keep in mind, this is the fourth or fifth time I've had to go through a detailed description of this project to either Bruce or one of his people. I can now recite it thoroughly in my sleep, like "The Gettysburg Address": "One score and one year ago, our founders brought forth a new theatre, conceived in poverty, and dedicated to the principle that - yadda, yadda, yadda". (In fact, I think I HAVE recited it in my sleep, since for the past four days it's the last thing I've thought about before falling asleep, and the first thing I've thought about after waking up; presumably some of those hours in-between have been taken up with reciting the details while unconscious.)

Raphael, the lead, looks over the information I hand him, looks over the materials, looks over the room. “We’re going to need more scaffolding than this,” he announces, “and this drywall (the special stuff), you can’t cut this with a knife; you need a saw. So, I gotta cover all these shelves (our equipment bay at the back of the stage), and put some plastic up over these doors, ‘cause it’s gonna get dusty in here. So, we can come in and start tomorrow, but we gotta finish by Wednesday, ‘cause we got another job starting on Thursday, so we might not get all the finishing work done by then.”

Okay, I’m keeping calm, because I’ve learned rather quickly that when dealing with these guys it’s all a matter of “two steps forward, one step back”, and I just want to keep them happy, so that SOMETHING actually gets accomplished.

I let him know, that’s fine, and heck, our deadline isn’t until the 28th anyway, so if they need to take a few days off in the middle to do another job, then come back and finish up, that’s fine with us. It probably ISN”T fine, but at this point, I’m willing to bend over backwards, if it means they’ll just do THIS job.

So, we all go our separate ways; I return home to take a shower, dress properly and head for work.

About 10:30 I get a call from Bruce, who says he’s spoken with Raphael, who is clear on the job, the process, and will bring in everything he needs first thing Saturday morning, when they will get to work (evidently, Bruce has finally gotten the message that timely communication is a good business practice). He figures it’ll take less time to complete than Raphael has estimated, but I’m putting my money on the accuracy of the guy who does the actual work, so I figure we’re still going to have to do some final finishing when they wrap up on Tuesday or Wednesday. We’ll just have to wait and see how things go, because at this point, it’s pretty much out of our hands.

Cross your fingers, your toes, your eyes, and anything else you can – because it’s going to be an interesting next few days.

Oh, and by the way, did I mention I start doing income tax returns tomorrow?

Yeah, just trying to take one step forward at a time...

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Posted byCOMTE on 1:07 PM

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