09-15-11 - DIY

I am so fucking sick of doing this shit, it's such a waste of time. I wish there people you could hire that would do this shit for you, but it just doesn't seem to exist. I thought I found the ideal thing - Seward Park Repairs , right in my neighborhood, just call them up they subcontract out and take care of whatever. (the biggest problem with hiring people to do shit is the amount of time it takes to find them and call them up and then vet them and so on). But then I found a forum post by the owner of Seward Park Repairs where he says it's okay to vent a bathroom exhaust fan into the attic. WTF David, if that's the kind of shoddy ass work you do, I'm glad I found out first. Wow, how are you people all so epically incompetent.

I really want a grounds manager to just take care of this shit for me. Higgins, this door is sticking, have someone take care of it, of course sir. I guess I need to make more money, but that's not possible as long I'm wasting all my time on fucking DIY bullshit!

There is this stupid dangerous machismo of "I could do that". Harrumph, I won't hire someone, I'm a man, I can do that myself. Of course other people will judge you and pressure you in this way as well; harrumph why'd you hire someone to put in that vent fan, can't you do that yourself? don't you have a penis?

Well, that's fucking stupid. Just because you *can* do something doesn't mean you should. Just because lots of stupid people think that it's admirable to do things yourself doesn't mean that it actually is.

What's admirable is making the right decision for yourself, regardless of what others think is right. This is obvious, but it's a very difficult way to actually live.

It would be so nice to be able to hire someone to take care of things and be able to trust that they will do a decent job. I don't even mean a builder, it could just be anyone off the street and they could subcontract everything. All they have to be able to do is basic research and decision making and phone calls. Unfortunately that takes a ton of intelligence and is very hard to find. It's hard to find even among highly skilled programmers.

A crucial aspect is the "what needs approval" question. You need an employee who has the sense to know what they should ask you about, and what they should just decide themselves and not bug you. Both ways of getting it wrong are bad; you don't want someone who just goes off and makes a bunch of decisions and you find out too late that you got the gold-plated Versace bathroom set ; but you also don't want someone who comes to you every five minutes with every question. The vast majority of programmers I've worked with fall towards one or the other side; it's very rare when you find someone who has that sense of judgement to know hey this is important I better ask about it, or hey I should just keep on trucking and make my own call on this.

I have a whole rant percolating about how shockingly hard it is to find what I consider "basic professionalism". You want to know why you're all out of work? When you get a business call, return it right away. When you have an appointment, make it, and if you can't then you call and tell them you'll be late *before* the appointment time. When you say that you will do something, you fucking get it done or you let them know very early on that you can't do it. If you are given a task that you don't know how to do right, you say so, you don't just try to fake it and fuck it up.


Aaron said...

Sounds like you need to find a general contractor you can 'trust'*. You want one really good hook into the system, even if you end up paying for quality and they are a bit more expensive than you'd expect. That person can do the random shit you need done, and hook you up with good people (plumber, electrician, etc) as needed.

*Note, this person does not actually exist, because you won't find a general contractor with an advanced degree in particle physics who really really cares, and they will therefore be incompetent, but it's a convenient fiction for the case at hand.

Aaron said...

I think my previous comment might also be bullshit. I've watched contractors do work, worked briefly for a general contractor, and watched them screw up jobs for my neighbors. I think basically that any form of construction requires you to be there and watch it every step of the way if you want it done your way. Look at how builders screw up even huge many-million dollar projects, even with all their safeguards in place.

If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself. But if you can't do it yourself, you have to watch it be done yourself :)

Brian said...

It isn't clear to me that hiring stuff is a win unless you don't know how to do it or don't have some expensive equipment. The problem is that you have to find someone, make sure they are decent, work around their schedule, be there when they come, and occasionally check on them. It might just be more efficient to do it yourself.

brian said...

Yeah, I found a realtor to sell my Austin house who was just fantastic. Called me back promptly every damn time even when he was on vacation in Hawaii. Had a stable of vendors - staging, demolition, handymen, etc etc. - and all of them were basically as awesome as the realtor. All his employees were awesome, too, and had this kind of nervous tone sometimes like he had fired several people who'd held their jobs first when they sucked. Good! He was a joy to work with.

Of course, I couldn't insist on the same professionalism from the buyer's agents, and so ended up with a fucking title agency run by nitwits who drafted up the paperwork incorrectly (saying they'd mail me a check instead of paying off the mortgage) while I was trying to negotiate the sale of the home while I was in Tokyo and my power of attorney was stuck in a blizzard in Seattle. Really fucking great.

But yeah, just employing people who are basically competent is shockingly hard. On the upside, it makes it delightful when you find someone who is.

old rants