So. It has been a long time since I have been on this page, maybe two years. Something that John Lennon said “life is what happens when you are busy making plans”. I am not going to bother looking this up – if it is slightly wrong, all the better. Life has certainly been happening.
Re the forest ranger, which is where I believe I left off. He sent me a nasty email to the tune of “I do not want to do you any harm, but take your photo of me off your blog or else”. I didn’t and he never bothered me again. I actually think he was moved to a different area. The court case got filed in Valencia and was then thrown out when my local town hall insisted I had followed the rules to the letter. So that was a very costly that. Ever since I was very careful about that book and its rules, and I put a locked hippy-like gate at the entrance of my finca to keep out intruders.
The house slowly gained character inside. I thought everything looked amazing but going back over the photos I now realise how bare it looked. Still if you bear in mind the house I once DID not have, the pile of rubble in the middle of nowhere you can understand how exciting any and every improvement was. And the outside may have been a total bomb site – we already know that Carlos obviously did not believe in builders’ cleaning – but hey ho, this would change.
Talking of Carlos, of which.
I stopped using him for work bit by bit. Then I stopped everything with him. Yes, bit by bit my god tumbled from the deep blue sky and hit the ground somewhere around his incompetently laid pipework.
How did it come to this, and no, not again. Maybe his escalating corner cutting and ridiculous extras had something to do with it? That he once charged me 800€ twice for the same tiny job. It was quite difficult to spot as my Spanish was still very poor and I believe I did not spot all the discrepancies and now neither would I want to. On top of this Carlos was ALWAYS right, only he wasn’t. He just could not accept any criticisms, even when blindingly obvious. The cracking floors comes to mind. The initial reasonable keys-in-hand quote that was not going to cost anymore had long ago been superseded and forgotten. Never believe a builder when he says that.
For a while I continued to order materials from him. – in the interests of peace. Felix was landscaping the grounds and this was always on the cards so there was no risk of Carlos feeling ditched. As far as he was concerned I was just taking stock.
However the final symbolic straw came when Carlos delivered a shower door with a broken guide – tiny, plastic, but vital. It is always the small things that tip you over.
I waited 4 months for the replacement part while the door kept on falling out of its rails. I cannot count the number of times I went to his yard to ask where it was. Then when it finally came he had the cheek to bill me 18 euros for putting it in place! But it was broken, I protested. His wife pipped in, not it wasn’t, I checked the door before having it sent to the masia.
Oh, really, I thought? How did you do that when it was shrink-wrapped? – I remembered how difficult the umpteen layers had been to remove. I kind of stood there at six and sevens, not knowing how to approach this insult, and then I just blurted out, “That’s too much. After all I have spent!” And I did a half pirouette, nearly tripping over myself in the process, and stormed out less than gracefully, totally unhinged.
It could have been a better exit. Later I would think about what I should or could have said. How petty they were being, how I had always paid my bills on time without fuss, how high those bills were. But all this with its infinite permutations took place in my head and to this day I have not had closure on this – a real altercation with my greedy builder if you will.
Some would say I did the right thing, not having it out “á la testicles”. I do not know. What I do know is that I would not have him or his workmen on my finca again. Never. I was not just angry, but also hurt, astounded. A mixture of all kinds of feelings really. Including that I was the biggest mug in the world.
Later when things went wrong and his “plumbers’ help” revealed itself incrementally as a gigantic smelly joke, I refused to call him. It was not only that I did not want him to step foot on my finca, but also I had totally lost confidence in his skills and integrity. I preferred to cut my losses (once again) and pay some one else to do an honest and proper job. Hell hath no fury like a lady let down. You get the gist.