Wednesday, 9 October 2013

A story about a man, a house, a promise!

So in my last post I promised to come back with good news.  I'll be honest, right now I'm struggling to make good on that promise as work is progressing at a snail's pace and there was no-one on site today (they all think they are finished!), but I know I can come up with something given a minute to think!

The internal doors are the biggest hold up preventing us moving in.  Other than the complete lack of privacy that living without any internal doors brings, they will be fitted at the same time as all the (Italian equivalent of) architraves and I don't want to clean and move in now when fitting will make a lot of dust that, without internal doors, I can't stop moving throughout the whole building!

So, my most recent deadline is next Thursday.  I have guests flying out that day to come stay with us so it's what Mr RR would call a hard deadline (as opposed to a soft one with no consequences that doesn't matter!).  To give you an idea of how deadlines work around here I'd like to share a little story.  It concerns the aforementioned internal doors (the internal doors which are costing £thousands!).  The joiner said he could make them in 3 weeks once he had the wood.  They're big on their signed contracts and hefty deposits here, especially for craftsmen (apparently it's the done thing to offer a deposit to secure their work, which goes against everything I normally hold dear!) so the order was confirmed, contract signed and deposit paid.  As it was the first week of August when all of Italy is on holiday (see my post What do you do in Monopoli when it rains?), our contract stated the doors would be fitted by 13th October, but he stressed this was the absolute latest.

Now, call me naive, but I thought this guy was different!  (Haven't we all heard that before?!)  This joiner is quietly-spoken and understated and I believed him when he said he wasn't like some Italians who don't consider time or deadlines to be important.  Mamma mia!  Che stupida!  (What a fool!)

So 2 weeks ago he told the architect he'd be fitting the doors 8th October.  Cutting it fine, but before his deadline on 13th so I couldn't grumble.  Today I heard he won't be fitting them until the end of next week!  That's a full 10 days later than his last ETA and, crucially, after his "absolute latest".  When I asked him why, because he had said 2 weeks ago they'd be ready now and because it was agreed they'd be fitted before this weekend and because I have guests coming on Thursday so I really need the doors, he replied, and I'll give this the literal translation from Italian it merits:

"It's just 4 days, it's not the end of the world."!

You can perhaps imagine how much I appreciated his pointing this out to me!  How helpful I found his attempt to alter my perspective!  Given the rush of adrenaline, I believe I responded well, calmly pointing out that I knew it wasn't the end of the world but this is my house and I have nowhere to live!

I acknowledge he was factually accurate and, had I been wailing down the phone indicating I thought it was the end of the world, he'd be justified in making his statement.  But I wasn't hysterical!  I was simply restating our agreement, my confusion as to what had changed in the 2 weeks since he said he would make the agreed deadline and my explanation as to why it was important to me that he do all he can to meet it still!  All utterly reasonable, surely?!  I still believe the appropriate response from him is to apologise at least once for the inconvenience and to explain in far more detail than strictly necessary, why the original deadline can't be met.  But then, maybe that's the Brit in me!

Oh yes, and the reason for the delay?  La Vernice  (The varnish)  The mind boggles!

So that's the story of the internal doors and the joiner who isn't like all those other Italians who don't think deadlines are important, but is still missing our contractually agreed deadline!  And this is the norm judging by what I see here.  The kitchen worktops were due in a maximum of 15 days: we're still waiting 6 weeks later.  The lights for the roof terrace would be in the store within 2-3 days: they took more than 3 weeks!  What's a girl to do?!  I'm on time for everything and everyone and feel terrible on the rare occasion that I have to go back on my word.  In these situations, I'm learning to do as the Italians do: gesticulate forcefully in exasperation and speak with lots of exclamation marks!

And I'm remembering this is the south of Italy!  We love it because it's laid-back.  We love it because the work/life balance tilts towards life and work takes a back seat.  If we wanted deadlines to be met and an on-schedule renovation there are European countries north of here famed for their efficiency we could have chosen!  But we didn't!  So I'm trying to relax, let go and let it all wash over me.

And, while I'm still waiting for the internal doors and kitchen worktops, the lights for the roof terrace did eventually arrive and have been fitted and, while I'm sure it's not doing them justice photographing them in the bright daylight, there's some good news to end on!

Cute little wall lights!
Even cuter and littler stair lights!

No comments:

Post a Comment