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An Engineer in the Woods, Installment 14: Woodwork Part 2, Order and Schedules

Monday, July 2, 2018

The week passed with no contact from Fred the fancy lumber guy.  I was juggling the electrician, the plumber, the carpenter, the antennae/audio/IT crew, the hardwood floor guy, the tile guy, the insulation guys, and still finding time to work at the Joliet office with a trip here and there to our Trinidad office.  I asked Kristen if she could handle Fred.

“He seems like a nice guy.  I’m sure he’s doing what he can since he knows we’re in a time crunch.”

“Please call him.”

“Let’s give him until Wednesday, that will be a week since we met.”

Wednesday came and went.  “I’m very busy at the Tollway.  I’ll call Saturday.”  On Saturday morning, she left a message.  On Monday, she left a message.  On Tuesday, she left a message.  On Wednesday, she left two messages. On Thursday, after waiting on hold for what seemed like an hour, Fred’s voice boomed into Kristen’s ear, “Hallooo Mrs. Hamilton!”

“Hi Fred.  Did you make any progress on our order?”

“Lemmee check my files,” rustle, rustle, rustle. “Hmmm…” rustle, rustle, rustle. “Can you spell your last name for me?”

“H  A  M  I  L  T  O  N”

“Hmmm…” rustle, rustle, rustle…“Hmmm…” rustle, rustle, rustle…“Hmmm…” rustle, rustle, rustle…“H  A  M  I  L  T  O  N ?”


“Hmmm…” rustle, rustle, rustle…“Oh…here it is.”  “Jahliet right?”

--(Don’t EVER say Jahliet to someone from Joliet…)---

“Yes.” -eergh-

“This is a pretty large order.  I’ll need to see the plans.”

“You have the plans.”

“Ohhh…” rustle, rustle, rustle…“Hmmm…” rustle, rustle, rustle…“Here they are…”

“Uh-huh…” rustle, rustle, rustle…“Hmmm…” rustle, rustle, rustle…

“I’ll need to come and take some measurements.”

“I know”

“I’ll check my calendar and call you back to schedule a site visit.”

“Why don’t we schedule it now?”

“I’ll call right back.”


“Just a minute then…” “Hmmm…” rustle, rustle, rustle…“Hmmm…” rustle, rustle, rustle…“Hmmm…” rustle, rustle, rustle…“How’s next Wednesday?”

“NEXT Wednesday ???!!!!!!”

“Or the following Tuesday…”

“I’ll take Wednesday!”

He didn’t show-up.

Four weeks after our initial meeting, Fred had finally visited the house, met with our carpenter John, and took some measurements confirming John’s list.  A couple weeks later, after repeated prodding, we had a proposal.  It was within pennies of our own gut-wrenching estimate, but it was in the budget.

Kristen drove to the Wheaton store, gave a LARGE deposit, signed some papers and was told to plan for delivery the week before Thanksgiving.  She called me from the parking lot.

“THANKSGIVING!!!!???” I exploded.  “That’s when we plan to move!”

“What are our choices?” my calm wife responded.

“none” sputter, sputter, sputter…

Thanksgiving came and went with no woodwork delivery, and we were now living in the partially finished home.  There had been a “problem” at the finisher’s shop as he didn’t realize that he was doing the doors as well, and there was “soooomuch wood.”  We could expect the shipment the first week of December.  Now knowing the delivery date, I developed a schedule for John so that he could get the bathroom and bedroom doors installed before he took the week before Christmas off.  We really wanted at least some of the doors installed before Christmas.  Christmas Eve we would host 29 members of the Hamilton family, and Christmas day would include 15 from Kristen’s family.  Kristen and I were surviving with shower curtains as bathroom doors – but that would not work well with guests.  Although the guests would be “family”, there are limits to “family togetherness.”

The morning of November 30, Fred called me on my cell phone while I was sitting at my desk in our Joliet office.  He was not his normal boisterous self.

“mr. hamilton”


“i have to apologize.”


“we won’t be able to deliver this week.”


“you see, some of the woodwork was misplaced, and…”


“well, that’s the problem, it was the door frames that were left out of…”


“i promise, december 17.”

“OK” -click-  There are still some brain bits splattered on the bookshelf behind my desk.

still more to come…


Have a great day!