Dominick, the furnace guy, just left. He inspired me to contemplate how one brief encounter can cause a shift in perspective, for better or worse.
I started today knowing pretty much what I was in for. We haven't yet turned on our heat this year. For a couple of reasons. We like to get the oil burner maintenance done before we turn it on each Fall. And we're trying to wear sweaters and use the fireplace, because we're a little worried about oil prices. Believe me, we haven't suffered; we're neither cheap nor hardy, and we'd turn the heat on if we were uncomfortable. Last year when the furnace guy (his name was, um, NotDominick) left, he gave me a speech about how our furnace is operating at only about 70% efficiency, and he's doing me a big favor by "approving" it at all, and next year we'll definitely need a new one. So I wasn't looking forward to what this year's furnace guy would say.
I stayed home today, my day off, to wait for the furnace guy who would arrive between 8 and 12. I hoped it was closer to 8. It wasn't. I HATE waiting for service people in those ungodly huge, unreasonable windows of time they give us for appointments.
He arrived around 2 p.m. He was friendly, and nice to my dog. I'm always relieved to get a "good vibe" from home repair and maintenance people. I've found that part of home-ownership so disconcerting, that letting strange (sometimes VERY strange) men into my home when I'm alone in the house, seemingly even alone in the neighborhood. I imagine men don't think much about things like that. I think other women do, though; don't you? Anyhow, Dominick was friendly, so I didn't give him a hard time about how late he was. I know perfectly well how easy it is to start out the day right on time, and get progressively behinder with each appointment. I did, however, have to say to him, "I was expecting you earlier, so I have some afternoon commitments. If you can give me a ball park as to how long this might take, I'll call my husband to be home when I have to leave."
He looked at me like I needed some special help and said, "I'll be here about 25 minutes."
"Well, could be 30."
"The guy who came last year was here for two and a half hours."
"I don't know what to tell you, ma'am. Your system is in good shape. I'll vacuum it out and replace a couple of filters, maybe a nozzle."
"I'm not complaining; that' s great. I'm just surprised."
"Well, I could sit down there and balance my checkbook or talk on the phone, and bang on the register every now and then so it sounds to you like I'm doing something, and spend 2 hours here. Or I could do my job in 25 minutes."
"Dominick, DO YOUR JOB!" Woo-hoo!
So I sit at the kitchen table doing banking kinds of things, while Dominick does his job. And sings. He sings, "Who's That Lady (who's that lady?)" and "Cuts Like a Knife," and "I Can't Get Enough of Your Love," and a couple of others, and his voice comes up through the vents into the kitchen. Quite a repertoire, and not a bad voice. Then he's done. He brings me a paper to sign, the same kind of paper that last year's guy pointed to while he told me that my furnace was in such bad shape he could shut me down if he had half a mind to.
But Dominick says, "Your furnace is at 84% efficiency; you're fine."
"But the guy last year said we'd need a new one this year. It was at 70% last year. How could it improve?"
"It didn't improve. It's like this. If you get a new unit, I get a commission. My conscience is more important to me than my commission. I believe in a God. If I weren't running so late, I'd tell you my story and you'd understand just why I believe in a God. But my point is, I believe in being honest with people. Your furnace is fine."
"Thank you for that. I was not looking forward to replacing it; we've got other things going on right now. I'm going to ask for you next year when I schedule the maintenance."
"If I'm still living, that's fine. You have a real nice weekend, Mrs. Fairchild."
You, too, Dominick.
Good things come to those who wait?