I learned an incredibly valuable lesson from Duct Tape and Extension Cords.
Now and then we are reminded of an experience that you know well but hadn’t or didn’t take to time to remember. This was one of those times.
I had made a decision to hire someone to help put up my Christmas lights this year. It was an easy choice for me to use the same person who had helped me the previous year. The problem has we couldn’t put the lights up as planned because it had rain buckets on our chosen day. We set another date. But it wasn’t to be. My lights person had fallen and broken a rib making it impossible to do my lights for more than a week. It was a hectic time and time was my enemy. I decided to find someone else to help me put up my lights before it was too late. Lights up as planned because it had rain buckets on our chosen day. We set another date. But it wasn’t to be. My lights person had fallen and broken a rib making it impossible to do my lights for more than a week. It was a hectic time and time was my enemy. I decided to find someone else to help me put up my lights before it was too late.
I made a few calls and located someone who seemed OK. He had a clean truck and was licensed and bonded, all the stuff you need and notice. He had an opening because I wasn’t a very big job, so he started to work the very next day. I gave him the schematic of my design, pictures from last year, cords, roof clips, zip ties, and all my duct tape and extension. I walked him through what I wanted to be done, and what I expected.
It was a particularly hectic day, and I had little time to check on his work. He came to the door to tell he had completed the job. I gave him a check for his work without checking what he had done. That was a mistake, and I knew better. After he had left, my friend went out to see how it looked. She came in and said, “You may want to see this.” She didn’t sound happy.
As I walked my small front yard, I couldn’t move a foot without stepping on an extension cord. The yard was covered with cords. All the lights were on, but it looked like a Rube Goldberg contraption. The handyman had used ALL the extension cords I had given him and some extra from the Garage. I had a total of 1500 feet of lights and over 5,000 feet of extension cords of various lengths. You do the math. I just laughed. We had duct tape and extension cord everywhere. What else could I do?
It was quite late, nor did I have the time to fix it. It rained hard that night and all the next day. When it was time for the lights to come on, half the lights weren’t working. I went looking for the problem and discovered that all the power boxes had been left open, and as you would expect, it had tripped the circuit. The problem was I couldn’t tell where everything was hooked up because of the spaghetti of extension cords. I had no choice but to leave it to the next day.
The very next morning I was out in the yard unhooking all the extension cords. That was when I discovered where all my duct tape had gone. They had used a whole (extra large) roll and some. To give you a frame of reference, I have put my lights up myself and had used some duct tape but NEVER a whole roll. In fact, I was still using the same roll over the last few years. It was an amazing site. Each of the plug connections had been wound into a huge ball, and there were a lot of them. I had to laugh. They had protected the plug connections to the extreme but left the electrical boxes open, go figure that one. It took me most of the day to undo what had been done, dry and close the electrical boxes and mark and wind up the extension cords. I left the decorations up. They were at least in the right places.
I called my regular guy, found he was doing better and was able to help with my lights. When he came, he took one look at what was left of the previous job and said, “Well, I can certainly tell you didn’t do this, what a mess.” Between him and myself, it took us most of the day to fix and reinstall the power to the lights. This time, they worked the way they should.
My story doesn’t end here. To get a jump on taking down the decorations, I decided to disassemble my yard leaving the roof to my regular lighting guy.
Outdoor Christmas decorations are pretty sturdy but are not meant to be manhandled if you know what I’m saying. The yard decorations had been jammed into the ground causing many of the points to break off. It was a wonder that they stayed up. It took me two days to take everything down and repair the damage. The good news is I was able to repair what was needed and lost very little.
The lessons I relearned from this experience is ALWAYS to check references when you’re using a new and unknown handyman. NEVER assume that they understand your instructions no matter how good they are. NEVER give a handyman ALL your extension cord and LOTS of duct tape because they WILL use all of it. Lastly, ALWAYS inspect their work MANY times during an installation.
The fact is it took me three times longer to put up and tear down my Christmas lights this year, with help, all because I didn’t follow my own rules. I think I’ve learned my lesson.
Life’s journey continues…