Late Friday afternoon I received a phone call. Or rather, I missed it, probably because I didn’t hear the phone ring as I was out in the traffic. I later discovered a voice mail. This asked me to phone Partners (the building management company contracted to manage Islington’s properties) on Monday. I gathered this was to do with replacing the rotten door frame on the communal back door.
I duly rang on Monday, only to hear a recorded message telling me that the person concerned was out of the office and inviting me to leave a message. I left a message with my phone number. No one called back.
Next day, the doorbell rang. It was M, the supervisor from a certain building company, contracted by Islington to do some of their building work. He arranged with me for a carpenter to call the following day, Wednesday, between 9 am and 10 am. I agreed. It seems that I have become the unofficial concierge of this building, the one they all phone or whose doorbell they ring to gain entry. At least this lets me know what’s going on but, on the other hand, it can be inconvenient.
On Wednesday I awaited events. 9 am came and then 10 am without any sign of a carpenter. The phone rang. It was the builders’ office: Sorree, the carpenter’s held up in traffic. Can he still come? If so, he’ll be with you shortly.
I could have been going out but I wasn’t, so I accepted. In my role of unofficial concierge, I am keen to get the work done as the matter has dragged on for months already. I then became absorbed in various things until I realized it was already midday. Surely our man cannot still be stuck in traffic?
I was about to phone the builders’ office when the doorbell rang. It was M. He seemed surprised that there was no carpenter. And the door frame: had they delivered the door frame? They haven’t? Well, how strange.
This display of innocent surprise was somewhat spoiled by the explanation that his carpenter had got stuck in a house because the owners had gone out and taken the keys with them and the carpenter had therefore had to wait in until the painter arrived. So were they lying when they told me he was on his way over but stuck in traffic?
Anyway, said M, they will deliver the door frame this afternoon shortly after 1:30 pm and the carpenter will be with you tomorrow at 10 am. Are you sure the door frame will be delivered? Oh, yes: the guys are at lunch now but at 1:30 they will come straight round to you here. I am going at just after 3. No problem, they’ll be here before that.
I was cross at having wasted a morning awaiting a carpenter who never came and I suppose I should have known better than to waste an afternoon waiting in for a door frame that never came. Live and learn.
The carpenter was supposed to arrive today at 10 am but I decided to be ready for 8:30 am. Am I clairvoyant? At 8:30, the doorbell rang. Yes, it was the carpenter. And he had brought the door frame with him.
When I rang the office yesterday evening to ask why they had not delivered the door frame, the lady on the phone said "They’ll bring it tomorrow, so it’ll be fine."
"No," said I. "It will not be fine because I have wasted an entire day waiting for people who didn’t come and missing an appointment in order to do so."
As I write, there is a reassuring buzz of drills and thump of hammers, so the work is going ahead and I need take no further part in this unless perchance the carpenter manages to lock himself out and needs me to let him in. I am the concierge, after all.
But, when all’s said and done, they don’t half mess you about.