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Friday, November 11, 2005


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."

"Twenty-five 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?

33 heads are better than one . . .

Blogger JessicaRabbit said...

That is excellent, and I dont even know how you have gone this long without turning on your heat. It is FREEZING here...

Also I NEVER ever ever ever have anyone come fix anything in the house when I am home alone. Too many true crime novels read, and too many people who recognize me from my old job...so its not just you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow - I wonder if he has a brother who services Hondas? :)

Blogger Jim said...

That is the coolest freakin' story. I love it when stuff like that works out. Any chance Dominick is gay? And single? And about to move to the West Coast? Specifically Seattle?

If it were me, I'd call his company and just gush about him. Too many times people call when there's a problem, but no one says a word when you excel. It's just expected. I like to encourage people's strengths. :)

Blogger Susie said...

Jess, it's been really mild here, this year; I don't even think we've had a frost yet. I agree with you about the repair people; it's just a bizarre thing to have a stranger in your home like that. Most of them are great, but I've gotten really bad vibes from a couple; and when my old dog, Bear, didn't like someone, I just wouldn't let them in. Dogs have a good sense about people's character, I think.

anon, yea, cars are another area where trust gets abused.

jim!, jim! Simma down now! I am not sure on the gay or the single, and I'm thinking "no" on the "about to move to Seattle," but you're right, I shall call and commend him. But can't say too much, because his employer wouldn't like him telling me I didn't need to spend a lot of money.

Blogger WILLIAM said...

"So shines a good deed in a weary world."
Shakespeare and Willy Wonka

Blogger eclectic said...

Walt Wangerin.

Read almost any of his work, but especially "Miz Lil and the Chronicles of Grace" and "Ragman and Other Cries of Faith." One of the short stories is titled "Edification/Demolition" and speaks precisely to the notion that each contact with another will either build them up or tear them down.

SO glad that Dominick built you up, AND saved your pocketbook! Do call and commend him if you get the chance.

Blogger Nina said...

Way to go Dominick . . . this world sure could use more Dominicks.
He sings too, I mean how much more can you ask for. Oh wait coming in your window time would be good. ;)

Blogger Nina said...

I got thinking about this
"If I'm still living, that's fine."
Thinking how most people might say well "If I'm still working for this company." But Dominick is worried about still living???

Blogger afdalieuroiuf said...

not only am i crying, but i'll now be including dominick in my daily prayers. thanks for giving us his name so i can mention him to God myself. i hope he's alive next year as well.

Anonymous jessica_deva said...

Isn't it great when you have an interaction that reaffirms, instead of negates, your faith in people?

Blogger Bente said...

That's fantastic. He sounds like a really great and honest guy.

I, too, worry when I have to have repair men in the house when I'm by myself. We're moving soon and our house is up for rent again so we have alot of people coming through to have a look and that also makes me a tad nervous at times. I usually go so far as to have a little plan incase I run into any trouble.

Blogger SassyFemme said...

That was one very nice guy! It's always so frustrating to not know anything about repairs and just have to hope that we're getting the truth from repair guys.

When we had our other dog I never worried about either one of us being alone in the house w/a repair man. She would always be on guard and was really protective. Angel Love, however, runs upstairs to hide when we have anyone strange in the house. I guess I'm probably too trusting that they're really just here to do their job.

Blogger Ern said...

Just when you begin to doubt that there is any goodness left in humankind...

Blogger Von Krankipantzen said...

How great that you had such a wonderful experience when you were so vulnerable in so many ways: physically, financially... He sounds like a gem.

Blogger Squirl said...

Man, that's great that he didn't try to bilk you. (Did that sound dirty?)

I don't always feel comfortable letting guys come in to work on stuff when I'm home alone. I've done it but I always start thinking about what I'd do if he turned into a jerk.

dgolfhwk Is there such a thing as a golf hawk?

Blogger judypatooote said...

Just goes to prove there are good people in this world....Being a senior and I don't mean in high school, I know how important it is to find a good handy man....or repairman.....one you can trust to tell the truth....and not charge you a arm or a leg..sometimes they are really hard to find..but I've never had a singing handyman...dam!

Blogger Southern Fried Girl said...

Wow, so nice to get a service person who is honest. How great for you.

Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

This is really...uh...what? Would "uplifting" cover it? It's neat, whatever it is.

Blogger Susie said...

william, and William and Willy, indeed.

eclectic, I don't know Walt W. I am intrigued by the titles, though, and I do believe in that principle.

nina, that gave me pause, too. I don't know if it was an expression, like "Lord willing..." or if there is more to the story, some reason that he may not be living. I hope it is the former.

raz, you are so kind-hearted. Indeed, God bless Dominick.

jessicad, it is great; and don't we just NEED them, at least every now and then?

bente, all the best with your house-selling, I hope it doesn't go on too long. I think it's wise to have a plan in case of the unexpected.

sassyfemme, I wonder if even friendly dogs would turn "animal" if their people were in danger. I don't know. I certainly think most people who are sent to our homes are nice, normal people. But I have had a few that put out such negative energy (that's the best way I can think to explain it) that I never let them get between me and the door, and kept the cordless phone handy. Not fun.

ern, yea; I don't really doubt that it's there, but it sure is nice to get such a large dose of it from a stranger.

kranki, yep, a gem, a treasure.

squirl, as I wrote that, I wondered if I'm just a scaredy-cat, but it sounds like lots of other women at least think about the possibilities of having strange people in the house.

judyp, yea, a reliable handyman and a reliable, honest mechanic -- rare and precious, in my experience. Not that I have either right now, except for Jif.

sfg, yes, my crappy, irritating day turned right around.

hoss, while I usually reserve "uplifting" for music and bras, I'll have to give you this one, it was an uplifting experience ;)

Blogger SierraBella said...

When I worked the night shift, sometimes alone, a co-worker taught me some self-defense techniques. The most important being anything can be used as a weapon.
I've never been afraid of workers in my house.
Lucky you, finding an honest, singing maintenance man!

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

I'm paranoid about repairmen in the house when I'm alone. Luckily, I carry a taser and testicle shock collar at all times.

And those little sharpened ninja stars are fun, too. Don't ask me how I know.

Blogger hellokittn said...

I know Jim called dibs first and all, but on the off chance that this sweet man named Dominick just happens to be straight, single, and planning on relocation, keep me in mind.

Anonymous lawbrat said...

I havent read all the comments, so this may be repetitive.

That is one of the greatest things I have heard. It shows so much that not everyone is bad. You hear about the bad much more often than the good. I commend you for posting this. God Bless Dominick and his family.

Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Wow! A very honest man. I wonder if he’d relocate to Louisville.

Blogger mrtl said...

"if I'm alive"? What's that supposed to mean?

This is a good balance for the day I had yesterday. It's good to hear about great customer service.

Blogger Susie said...

sierrabella, even a blog?

bucky, oh, yea, why didn't I think of that? I have all those things here, for the dog!

chchchchia, I'll put you on the list.

lawbrat, yea, I like to try to be on the lookout for the good. Sometimes it sneaks up and surprises us :)

ssnick, this guy is very much in demand now; he's being invited to Seattle, Michigan and Louisville! I hope all of you encounter someone as surprisingly terrific.

mrtl, I'm not sure. As I said to Nina, it may have been an expression, like "good Lord willing and the creek don't rise," or it may have alluded to something less benign. Don't know. With your Frida furniture situation, when those things happen, I try to look at it like, "I'll find something I like better anyway (or the same, but less expensive), and then I'll be happy that I didn't get to buy it there." That's what I hope for you.

Blogger _Summer_ said...

What a credit to the inudustry. Three cheers for Dominick!

Blogger ieatcrayonz said...

God bless you Dominick - an angel in the wings.

What a wonderful testimony. I actually tend to avoid companies that proclaim they are Christians in their ads. You can say you are anything, but the real truth is in our actions.

Blogger LadyBug said...

What a wonderful witness he is. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Hugs to you, Susie Fairchild.

Blogger Amy said...

Very cool. Here's to the good guys like Dominick, making their corners of the world a little brighter.

Blogger Circus Kelli said...

Wow. We need more people like Dominick in the world... and less like NotDominick.

Blogger Hippo said...

I used to do my own damn furnace maintenance and it would take about 1/2 hour. Change the nozzles, put in a new filter, and inspect and/or change the oil filter off the tank.

I will reveal personal details here as I lived there about 20 years ago while attending college at Bingo...

I lived in this gawdawful trailer on this beautiful piece of land in a town Called Chenango Forks...it was in the Middle of nowhere but Davies Last Chance Saloon...the only saloon in the area was right down the road and I loved that place...anyway, back to the furnace.

I learned what the oxyegen sensor/air sensor was for on that furnace. One year I could not get the damn thing to start no way, no how and for some stupid reason I removed this circuit for testing...anyway fuel oil fumes and particles built up in the chamber and when it did ignite it was like a shotgun...it scared the hell out of me. I ran out of the trailer and looking at what was left of the stack, moments later the stack came crashing down to the ground...I must of blown that thing 300 feet or so into the air...that was cool.

Don't remove the oxygen sensor control unit on your furnace if it doesn't fire. It's meant to detect fuel overload and not allow it to fire...

Oh well...just a short furnace story...I could go into all the hot college chicks I shagged there but some other time...right Susie!

Dr. H.O. Potamus

Blogger Annejelynn said...

I like to believe there are more Dominick's out there than we realize - it's most important that we all choose to be more like Dominick, than to expect and treat others as if they're more like the first guy. bless Dominick!


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