Exploding Drama

Today's award for worst service experience ever goes to Martin Glass of Madison WI. I am selling my house on December 29, and as part of standard protocol, the buyers requested I fix a cracked basement window. No problemo; common courtesy.

So I scheduled Martin Glass to come do the job today at 11 AM, because this is who the buyers' realtor used for the estimate, and they were also recommended by my realtor.

For whatever reason, contractors in Madison have a tendency to arrive upwards of 15 minutes early, which is less annoying than arriving late, but still annoying. So I decided I would arrive at my house at 10:30 to play it safe.

Didn't matter...the guy still beat me there. Then he parks his van square in the middle of my driveway so I can't pull into my garage. So I park on the street.

The guy is a surly churl who doesn't engage socially. I lead him to the broken window.

"Do you need anything?" I ask politely.

"No," he answers, churlishly.

As I load in my music gear from my car for this afternoon's band practice, over a much farther distance than anticipated since I was relegated to street parking, the guy proceeds to make a huge ruckus dismantling the broken window's glass into the recycle bin in my garage. He seems to relish the sound of smashing glass as it explodes at the base of the recycle bin. It's so loud, I have to put my earplugs in and I hope, for his sake, that he has hearing protection in as well. If he doesn't, I am sure it's an OSHA violation.

Anyway, he does the work seemingly very quickly (more on this later...). Then he seemingly disappears. I see he has turned off the basement light and closed the door, the universal sign for "I'm all done here." But he is nowhere to be seen. I go to see if his van is still in the driveway and he startles me in the upstairs hallway of my house.

I jump a little as he says, "I was looking for you..."

I literally thought for a couple of seconds I was going to be murdered.

Then he adds, as if to pacify my anxiety, "I had to use your bathroom real bad."

He tells me he is all done and shows me an invoice.

"Do you take credit cards?" I ask.

He says they do, though had I known what this actually entailed, I might have paid cash instead.

To wit, the remainder and probably lion's share of his time at my house (the first time...more on this later) consists of him trying to charge my credit card for the work. He has to call it in to his shop manually and the lack of 21st century electronic invoicing technology perplexes me, given that they guy is wearing a wireless earpiece for talking via his smartphone, hands free. This process takes about 10 minutes, I estimate, though time dilation due to ensuing akwardness makes it feel much longer.

First he calls the wrong number, though I don't know this and mistake his self effacing exclamation of "dumbass!" as some form of Tourette's Syndrome. The situation grows considerably more uncomfortable when he dials the correct shop number and immediately begins berating and verbally abusing whoever answers for a couple minutes. He makes a couple of failed attempts to read off my CC number to the shop person. To be sure, the numbers are not easy to read because of the design on the card. Even so, the listener on the phone fails at least three times to capture the digits with 100% fidelity.

Suddenly the window guy violently throws my CC on my kitchen counter and yells, "Goddamit!" I start, wide eyed, and once again question inwardly the longevity of my mortal existence, a feeling that competes fiercely with an overwhelming desire to be just about anywhere else - inside a vocano, swimming with hungry sharks, naked in Antarctica... He makes some obscure comment about the "damn Gilligan farm," that I can't comprehend, then proceeds to verbally abuse the person on the phone a bit more before eventually, I think, getting all my billing information conveyed. Then he takes my email address for the purpose of emailing me my receipt, and leaves.

"Have a great rest of your day," I say as he steps outside. He trails incomprehensible mumblings as I close the door and lock it securely.

At this point, I am about 75% certain my identity is in the process of being stolen and 95% certain that I shall never see the promised email with the sales receipt for the window job, which I need for verification at least a week before my house sale closes. These percentages soon escalate dramatically, along with a growing probability that I will have a shiv jabbed repeatedly into my carotid artery.

To be fair, I probably overestimated the stringency this fellow applied to his own work ethic, given the referral by two realtors. So it takes me a few minutes to go down to the basement to examine the work. As I go down the basement stairs, I wonder why it seems so much colder than before. It is December, so I assume the short period of time the pane had been out of the window while the guy fixed it had let in some wintry air, which would be remedied by the furnace in due time. I keep the thermostat set very low since I am not living there. But alas, such would have been good fortune indeed, compared with the reality of the situation.

It should come as no surprise to you, dear reader, that the glass repair guy had done a half assed job, LITERALLY. He had replaced the broken one of two panes, but had completely failed to reinstall the original unbroken pane, which was nowhere to be found.

I call my realtor, Julie, for advice on what to do. She comes right over, along with my girlfriend Deborah, who is her sister, and there is an immediate violation of my strict NO DRAMA policy as frustrated calls are made to the Martin Glass "shop" (completely uncooperative in all respects) in an attempt to remedy the situation.

Total clusterfuck. I am able to locate the missing old unbroken pane of glass in the garage, nearby where the guy had been making a ruckus. When the guy finally calls me back, he plays dumb.

"You didn't finish the job," I say.

"I didn't?" he replies.

"You forgot to put the other paine of glass back in."

"That's real easy to do yourself," he says.

What? He takes MY money and then wants me to do the rest of his work for him? Fail.

"I paid for you to do the work and I want it finished. TODAY," I say firmly.

"Well, I am finishing a board up job right now," he replies, stubbornly. "I can be back over there in about 40 minutes."

"Get here." I was not playing any games.

When he calls back a few minutes later to say he is on his way, he sounds a bit less churlish, though by no means apologetic. Julie and I surmise he has been given a serious talking to by his supervisor, someone named Jamie, according to Martin Glass's unhelpful customer service (who refuse to give us Jamie's number...).

As the three of us, Julie, my GF Deborah, and I wait for the repair guy (named Carie or Kerry) to return, we all discuss the significant probability of our mass murder on this cold but sunny Sunday afternoon.

"It's perfect," I say. "My band mates show up for practice and find us in various stages of being cold bloodedly murdered. A scuffle ensues and blah blah blah...total horror movie fodder."

Carie or Kerry or whateverthefuck shows up. He's sullen and quiet as we proceed to the basement. I am happy to let him install the other pane and get the fuck out as quickly as possible, my sense of untimely doom ballooning rapidly. But Julie, rightly so, demands he clean the sealing caulk and fingerprints he left all over the new glass pane, which seems like a significant struggle for the guy. I am not entirely certain this struggle is over cleaning the window or subduing his inner homicidal maniac.

Initially apologetic, Carie (?) seems to have demons and angels battling for control of his words. He mumbles "I'm sorry" to me at one point during the fixit job #2, but later he turns to Julie and tries to guilt her for "making Bonnie cry." Bonnie is the aforementioned resistant-to-altruism customer service rep at the "shop."

Stahp yourself, Carie! I think inwardly. This will not go well for you.

Where was Carie's sympathy for bringing someone to tears when he was verbally cussing out the poor person at the "shop" as he tried to bill my credit card? That may very well have been Bonnie too, for all I know.

I begin to have pugilistic notions of having to defend petite Julie against this sizeable character, who seems to be very much on drugs.

But Julie takes none of his lip and simply says, "Well you didn't do your job." This silences him.

Both the discomfort level in the room and my anxiety exceeds safe limits as Carie (?) wields a razor blade to scrape residual epoxy off the new glass. I am glad Deborah is upstairs so she can run for help if/when she hears Julie and I screaming seconds before our larynxes are severed, silencing us.

Carie finishes, and as he leaves he tells Julie, "It has been a rough morning," by way of excusing his weak sauce.

"It has been a rough morning," Julie says, pulling the top of her blouse to the side, revealing the catheter installed there. "I was in the hospital all morning." This is true, though HIPAA rules forbid me from elaborating.

For some reason, Bonnie from Martin Glass calls Julie after Carie (?) has left and they exchange further drama. Apparently Bonnie accuses Julie of intimidation and again Julie has none of it.

"I shant be doing business with Martin Glass again," Julie says and hangs up. I admire her chutzpah, though she tells me its all in a day's work for a realtor. I promise myself to ladle generous rewards upon her in the near future, but must turn my attention to the pending band practice, still anticipating a murderous return visit from Carie (?) at some point, and now 100% sure my credit card is on a 6 state shopping spree. But Julie assures me she will get not only a receipt for the work but also a full refund for me when she talks to Martin Glass's owner on Monday. Then she and Deborah leave and I wait for my band mates.

The ensuing band practice is productive and relieves some of my tension.

If you don't hear from me in a few days, I am dead. Just fyi.

Happy Saturday.

p.s. share this blog post with the cops if leads are needed in a multiple murder that includes me as a victim.

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