Henry the Handyman

Our condo in Delray Beach, FL. has been nice to us, in every way, including minimal maintenance and repairs, for the last six years we’ve owned it.

Until now. Well, nothing is forever.

We had renters in for the first time this past season (Jan-Mar). We’d used a management company to oversee our interests, take complaints from the renters, and solve problems in our absence without us having to. That’s the theory, anyway. We also had a maintenance contract to cover most repairs with their insurance. Again, that was the theory.

In all fairness, the maintenance company did repair the washing machine when the renters were here, no charge. Also while we were en route by car, our condo sitter, who looks in on the place once a week, said the thermostat died, and the A/C wasn’t filtering out the humidity. It was fixed by the maintenance company the next day. No charge. Hey, two for two, I’m feeling lucky!

Our luck ran out when we got down here.

The management co, who inspected the condo, said everything was okay after the renters left, and gave them their security deposit back, didn’t do a very good job. Everything LOOKED okay, but, for example, the kitchen faucet wobbled like the broken neck of a chicken.

So, my next call was to the maintenance co; they were two for two so far, right?

The service man comes, looks at the faucet, and says,

That’ll be around $180. to fix; plumbing isn’t covered. Look at the fine print on the back of your contract. You do have a contract?”

“Yes, it’s back in New Jersey.” I thanked him while declining the repair offer. At least since I had a contract with them, there was no service charge.

I’d given up on plumbing a long time ago. Everything about the trade, even the word, bothers me; you’ll see why in a minute. So I called the condo sitter for a reference, and he supplied me with Henry.

“He’s French,” he said to me. So when a tall, dark Haitian showed up with a grin from ear to ear, I thought to my self, that’s half right. However, Henry seemed to have the perfect temperament for plumbing, so in addition to the sink faucet, I made a list of things which needed to be corrected which the kitchen re modeler, after he left his wife and kid for his girlfriend and then went bankrupt, didn’t do.

So, Henry was fixing the faucet, the drain on the disposal unit which had a small leak, hookup the ice maker for the fridge, replace an electric box, and re caulked the kitchen back splash, for the next TEN hours! Henry smiled at each of the sidetracks that come with any plumbing job, and just kept attacking each of them with a laugh. I was the one getting frustrated, and I wasn’t even doing the work! If I had been doing the job, I might have ended up trashing the condo. In the end, Henry said,

Meester John, eat touk a leetle longer,eind I had to buy more parts, so IE tink $300. iensteed of $200. would be fair, NO?”

I didn’t quibble, wrote the check, and Henry was on his way. I put him in my phone book for the next time.

Henry reminded me of an immigrant experience which is common, although not always, occurring in the country. He was happy to be here. He wasn’t trying to make a fortune, just a fair living. NOTHING bothered him. Don’t worry, be happy. Thanks for reminding me, Henry!

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