Monday, April 19, 2010

Why hire a painter when you can do it yourself?

Our terrace in Buenos Aires needs a painting. The front of our house too. We hire a painter that was recommended by someone, but with little prior research and against our first inclinations.

On Saturday, he paints. He smokes a cigarette. His teeth have various gaps in them, but he mixes the paint well. It rains. He stops. He comes back on Monday, but we realize that he is just painting over the cracks as opposed to filling them in appropriately before painting as we agreed. Why are we hiring someone to do a job we can do ourselves?

Well, we usually do everything ourselves, but this time we wanted to focus on other things and take a break. Alas, not possible. In order to give our painter a less complex job and help him still get paid, we ask him to take down the wallpaper upstairs in our main hall and then paint it. He would rather paint the terrace since the terrace is bigger and means more pay. We understand that, but it's not happening.

He starts to tear down the wallpaper. He does not like the fact that Peke insists on lifting the heavy ladder herself. Yes, she is strong-willed, but rolling of the eyes said it all. He later comments that women should not be painting. It's a man's job. Peke clearly knows more than he does as she shows him her handy work in the next door hall-a piece of art. He backtracks, but it's too late. He stays for 6 hours, finishes less than half the wall and asks Peke for more money. Excuse me? He has already been paid well for doing little and now he wants more for doing even less? He leaves, face scrunched up.

We call him later to say politely that there is no need for him to come back. We owe him no more money, but it's time to part ways. We are going to do the work ourselves. He resists. Peke finishes more than 3/4 of the job in the next six hours before bed. Superwoman.

Not only can it be fun to fix your own home as a team with your significant other, but also you can save money too. We lost out on this one in some ways, but we gained in others. Plus, we are happier with the finished product, the house is happier too.

It may very well be that our painter needs the money. He needs the work. That he has a family to feed. But sometimes, you have to tell people no and keep your distance. They need the experience for some other reason. Hopefully, he will set out to change his approach and to do things with more care the next time. Or may be, he will remain angry and bitter and doom himself to repeating the same mistake over and over again. It's his choice. But each experience is what we make of it. What is best for us is sometimes what is best for others whether we or they recognize it or not at the time.

You see, simple things like this are all part of a process where life presents us with opportunities to correct our ways, to improve our decision-making, or to just plainly be what makes us happy. In our case, it makes us happy doing these things ourselves.

Note: the painter was most definitely not legitimate and he made us very uncomfortable. We did not suspend his work because we are snooty and picky about how we like our things. He was clearly doing things wrong and carelessly and not to be trusted.

Live and learn? Or live and remember? Remember that we are creative beings with the power to do and be anything we want. Be the difference... and go paint your bedroom.