Friday, November 1, 2013

So You Wanna Have a Swimming Pool Built, Eh? - By Raymond Chandler

It was on of those typical California Mornings. Already hot enough to cook an egg and make you sweat for just breathing. I couldn't afford to sweat today or any day at that.

So I sat inside smoking and turned the air on to a crisp 60 degrees. I sat and waited which I am good at. The doorbell rang 10 minutes ahead of schedule. This could be good or bad and I was about to find out which. I opened the door and there stood the first mark. He wasn't much to look at. I could have picked him up and tossed him across the room without breaking a sweat. He was dressed fine like afterwards he was going to his sister's Wedding.

We shook hands, as I expected he tried too hard to grip me and it felt like A Butterfly kissing my hand. He introduced himself in a squeaky voice, "Hi, I'm Eugene Stanton from Sky Blue Pools. Nice to meet you."
"Same to you" I said. Eugene, huh? Too bad. I didn't like anyone named Eugene so that was strike one against Mr. Stanton. I took him out back and we got down to business.

I asked him if he was packing lead and he says, "Just in my pencils sir." So he was a smart guy, eh. Out back it was even hotter. You could now fry 2 eggs plus some bacon. I showed him where I wanted the pool dug and told him that area was likely safe, no bodies would come up when they dug there. Eugene laughed as if I was joking. I was dead serious. We went back in on account that Eugene was starting to sweat like he was already digging the pool up. It was a hot one for sure.

He reached into his briefcase, I told him to be careful what he pulled out of there. Again he laughs. This guy must think I am a regular riot act. He pulls out a few sketches to show me. The first sketch has more curves than the waitress down at the corner Diner. I told Eugene I like curves but only on the Dames. He shows me some other ideas which turned out better for him. I liked the last one he showed me so we settled on that one. Eugene then gives me the latest scoop, "You see sir in this business everything needs to be strictly in writing and very detailed at that. If it is not in the contract then it is not going to be in the backyard when the job is done. Everything you want needs to be detailed in this paper right here. Once you sign the contract it is binding after 72 hours. Here in California you have 72 hours called the cooling off period to change your mind. After that you are stuck with me, ha, ha."

I told him that in my business we never write anything down in case the Coppers get a hold of it. So I asked him to run that by me again so I got it straight. He says sure,

"Let's say you insist on some particular equipment. You lay it out for the sales guy. The sales guy says okay and  tells you that you are getting a 520 sq ft Pentair cartridge filter, a 2 Hp Wisperflow Pump and a 400 BTU MasterTemp Heater you want," I tell him to keep talking but it was all Greek to me, "but he doesn't write it into the contract as you said it. He just writes in Pentair Filter, Pentair Pump and Heater. Chances are Bub that what you asked for will not materialize in your backyard. It's gotta be written down specific like." I ask him if these Pentair guys are from Chicago cause I don't deal with anyone from Chicago. He tells me he doesn't think so. He shows me some pictures of the equipment and I ask if it comes in anny other colors besides Tan. He says no. I don't like Tan on account of Eddie LaBlanc. Not sure where he got that name from since he was about as French as the Czar of Russia. But good old Eddie wore them Tan suits all the time. No matter the job he was dressed in Tan. The boss got so fed up that he sent Eddie on a job in his Tan suit that we all knew he wouldn't be back from. So I wasn't to hot for Tan.

So I wanted to loosen Eugene up for my next question. I offer him a cigar or smoke and he says he doesn't smoke anymore. Strike two against Eugene. I say to him, "Suppose you start digging the pool and I don't like the exact location no more. Or it doesn't look like how I wanted it in the drawing over here, what happens?" He starts to shake his head and I know already I'm not gonna like the answer.
"You see sir, the contract is a legal binding document. Any changes at that point is at our discretion. If you feel like you still want the changes or don't like how the job is moving along then you will need to initiate Arbitration." I say to him, "You mean go to the Law and get them involved?"
"Not exactly. It is just a process through the courts where contract disputes are settled. It is extremely time consuming, I must warn you, so it is best to pick a reputable builder like ourselves and stick to what is in the contract to the letter." I ask him what does he mean a long process. "Well, if we start to dig and you don't like it, maybe you will be looking at the hole in the ground for six months or so."
 " What do you mean, I can't just get another guy to finish the job?"
"No sir. The contract is binding. No other company would dare do any work until the court releases you or we release you from the contract. Once you sign this contract you are bond by the terms." Well I wasn't signing no contract anytime soon, I was pretty spooked by what Eugene was telling me, although you couldn't tell.

I though I would drop one more line onto poor Eugene before I asked him to hit the pavement. "I was on the three W's last night." He stops me and asks what the Three W's was. I guess Eugene wasn't too sharp after all. "I mean the computer. the World Wide Web." He says he is familiar with the internet, a real wise guy. "I was on this forum and they were saying that the pool Start-up was pretty important. Should I get that in writing also?"  I show him the link:

http://www.troublefreepool.com/pool-school/pool_plaster_start-up

He says most certainly. You don't want the builder finishing the job and then having to Start-up the pool on your own. He says that his company will send a guy by everyday for one week to brush and test the water. Again, his was a reputable company he says.

He asks me if I plan on financing the pool. I point to the briefcase on the counter and tell him there is 40 Grand in there so that should cover it. He laughs again. I would have opened the briefcase and shown him the dough but things could have gotten ugly at that point. I tell him, "Finance? A good friend of mine in Tennessee says if you don't have the dough then you shouldn't buy it. Why would I want to pay $250 a month for the next 10 years  for something I am only going to use maybe 20 times each year. Plus according to the Three W's it cost a lot of money just to keep the pool running without adding extra to it each month. The guys who finance everything find themselves in the Pudding sooner or later when their luck drys up. " Cash only for me. He says that is fine. The payment is structured in phases as the construction proceeds so it won't be all up front, maybe four or five payments. I tell him do I look like a guy who would give him the money up front. He doesn't answer which is smart for him.

I tell Eugene that it is time to hit the road. I liked the guy. I wouldn't want him in the box in court though. All the D.A. had do do was ask his name and Eugene would have spilled the beans all over the place. But his information was helpful. I told him I had four more guys like him lined up today and I would get back to him. He says I am smart to get other bids. Of course it is smart I tell him, do I look like a Dummy? He also says I could stop by and see his companies work or talk with previous clients. I liked that. Too bad for the kid his Mama named him Eugene. If he was named George or Henry maybe he could have gone somewhere in life. Maybe even President of the US. People like to vote for guys with normal sounding names and all.

But Eugene gave me a lot to think about. This job wasn't going to be the a piece of cake after all. I got out the Whiskey and poured myself a double shot. This was going to be a long day. I was pretty sure one of these guys would show up in a tan suit.

Here Is a pool by a builder in my area that is respectable:

http://youtu.be/47vaGLLVT4M