(this was also published on the ServiceMagic ProConnection blog)
They were taking away the sixth or seventh dumpster from a neighbor's house this morning. Really bad timing. We live on a busy residential street in the city, perpendicular to two major thoroughfares and near several schools, and between the flatbed attempting to maneuver the dumpster and the harried commuters rushing downtown and the parents dropping their kids off at school, someone clearly erred in setting the 7:30 a.m. timing.
I don't blame the dumpster driver, though, or the assorted remodeling tradesmen who were trying to police the traffic. Nor do I blame the dispatcher of the dumpster service, or the person at the remodeling company -- maybe the receptionist, maybe the project manager -- who set the time.
I blame the owner of the remodeling company.
This project has been underway for four or five months. It's a big one -- easily in the high-six-figures' worth of work on an early 20th-century foursquare quite like my own. Our neighbor Sally sold it earlier this year. Her husband had died and her kids were long gone and her home of 40 years just seemed like too much, so she downsized to a bungalow in her daughter's neighborhood.
There's been a lot of generational turnover on our street in the last few years, and a lot of remodeling. It seems to start with the widows.
Next to Sally, there was Wilma. She lived in her house for at least 60 years before heading up that ultimate staircase, last year, in her late-90s. Next to Wilma was Mary, who spent all of her 90-plus years in her 1896 gingerbread-house Victorian (her father built it) . Next to us was Sophie, who continued to run a business out of her house well into her 90s as well, long after her five kids and husband shuffled off.
So, yes, the women live long on my street ... but what's this about blaming the owner of the remodeling company for the little dumpster incident?
The owner sets the tone of the company. He may have 10 or 20 major projects underway at any time, and he may have far bigger fish to fry than worrying about a little traffic congestion around any one of them, but it is his responsibility to instruct his employees and trade contractors on how to behave in a client's home -- and in a client's neighborhood.
Someone did a great job of sticking a fancy job sign in the home's front yard. Would it have been too much for them also to have distributed a friendly letter of introduction -- from the project manager, or the owner -- to all the surrounding houses?
A note to the effect of: "You may have noticed that we've begun construction on your neighbor's home at XXXX Main St. We will be here for approximately five months and will do everything we can to minimize disruption for you and the other neighbors. If there's ever anything we can do to answer your questions or alleviate your concerns, don't hesitate to call me directly, at XXX-XXX-XXXX. I've also enclosed several copies of my business card."
Ask to be forgiven, and you shall be forgiven. You may even be rewarded with a new client or two.
Act with no regard for the neighbors, and you will never work in my house. Even if I could afford you, I would go with your emotionally intelligent competition instead.
Be the decider.