Thursday, April 17, 2008

Good Bye, Old Paint

It's spring, and our house is badly in need of painting. What was once a tasteful colonial-Willamsburg green has faded into a garish Ocean-City-salt-water-taffy-silly-looking green.

It reminds me all too well of a previous paint job. The lady next door had approached us, saying that if we were interested in having our house painted, she had a friend who "was in a bit of a jam" and would do it for a reasonable price. She was a realtor and began talking about "curb appeal." We took the hint. It seems that her friend, Ray (not his real name), had just landed a teaching job in Florida, but had no money to get there. It would be a huge favor to her and to Ray if we said yes. We said yes.

Ray came over that evening with about 500 color chips on a metal ring. "You oughta find something here that you like," he said, "but you gotta pick your colors right away, because I have to leave for Florida in about ten days. I'd like to start tomorrow, so that I can take my time and do a real good job." Actually, I didn't care for any of the colors very much. Something about them didn't seem quite right, but, feeling pressured, I selected an innocuous green, with gold for the shutters. Ray had the paint mixed the next morning and set to work with gusto.

He made great progress at first, but as the week wore on, we worried that the job wouldn't be finished by Monday, when he had to leave. By Saturday, the job was only 3/4 complete. Ray didn't show. Phil went next door, where Ray was staying, and rang the bell. No answer. Sunday morning, the same thing. Late Sunday afternoon, Ray appeared. "Oh, I heard the doorbell, " he explained, "but I've been laid up with a tooth ache. Don't worry. I won't leave tomorrow until I'm finished, even if I have to leave a little later." The next morning, Phil wrote Ray a check. We left for work.

Phil came home at noon. Ray was gone. The back of the house was only half painted. Open cans of paint stood baking in the sun. Paint trays, rags, stir-sticks, rollers, and brushes were scattered about. Phil immediately stopped payment on the check. Soon we got an aggrieved phone call from Ray in North Carolina. "Hey, Buddy, I really need that money. I have a friend of mine, a professional, who's gonna come over and finish up at no extra charge to you."

So Ray got his money. His friend finished the job.

I still wasn't happy about the color. It looked like green salt-water taffy. I took the color chip to the paint store. The clerk said, "Oh, that's really an interior color. Here's our exterior colors." He showed me a brochure with a dozen exterior color schemes.

Ray used interior paint on the outside of our house?

"Not necessarily," said the clerk. "You can custom-mix any color you want for the exterior."

A couple of summers later, Ray was back, having lost his job in Florida. "Say, Phil, " he said, looking at our house, "you guys really gotta do something about that color."


Nancy said...

Okay, Ray just needs his ass kicked, plain and simple. This reminds me of a similar nightmare we had with a Ray-type person..I may post it soon if I can do it without getting too worked up!

forsythia said...

Writing about it is a good way to come to terms with it and move on. How's that for psychobabble? :-)