Lindsay Woods: 'I see you drive a van there… are you in the building trade by any chance?'

I now know how Cinderella’s glass slipper felt. The never-ending quest to find the perfect match, that one true fit. With one, difference; I’m not a glass slipper looking for a foot… I’m looking for a man. Specifically, a man who knows his way around bricks, mortar and how to use a brush to sweep up after, writes Lindsay Woods.

Suffice to say, I am exhausted from the search.

I began where all great things begin… Google. I punched various hybrids of, ‘Local Builders’, ‘Female builders’, ‘Reliable individuals with the appropriate construction credentials who will not bankrupt my children’s college fund/bail money and also turn up when they say they will and on time’ into the search bar. It yielded little. So far, no glass slipper.

Therefore, I took to the streets. Not the literal streets. I’m not in the habit of pounding the footpaths and interrogating unsuspecting strangers like a budget American 70s cop show. There are only so many hours in the day and I have school runs to do… and a husband to annoy.

So, I strategised. I eyed up the parents who dropped off their kids to rugby training with the feverish glance of a child who has just clapped eyes on the Smyths catalogue. You could have bottled the scent of desperation from my personage and whacked a label on it that read, ‘Eau de Grasping at Straws’.

“Oh hi, Child X…’ turns to parent, ‘Is he coming back on the bus after the match? Great. Now, I see you drive a van there… are you in the building trade by any chance?”

“I have my own company that lays pipes at the bottom of the ocean”.

“Grrrrreat. Good for you. So, do you by any chance know someone who builds things above sea level?”

We got a few names and there began my first and last foray into the world of speed dating. After what I have endured, I can categorically say that I would fail miserably at Tinder.

The first candidate seemed promising. He was relatively on time and I was eager and hopeful; with a clear whiff of ‘Eau de Grasping at Straws’ lingering in the air. The wheels pretty swiftly came off the train when he said,

“And what does himself think?”

I pulled myself up to my full height, all 5’2”, and assumed my best Scarlett O’Hara face which implied the need for his hasty retreat lest I eviscerate him verbally by the front door.

The second candidate did not fare much better. In retrospect, I should have advised him to list, ‘Mansplainer’ beneath his company name on his vehicle. A nice little side business to keep him warm during those bleak winter months and allow him to draw upon some happy memories of making a complete and utter holy show of himself as he warmed his toes by the fire.

“I suppose you’ll want to draw up a quote…?”

“Ah shur, I can give you the bad news now.”

“Right. But, do you not want to look at where the services are located? I’m pretty sure it should be fine…”

“Ah look, I wouldn’t be worrying about that now at all. I won’t really know what’s what until I dig it up. Are you local? I don’t know your face but the surname is familiar…”

“Anyway, you were saying in regards to the price?”

“Yeah, it’ll be X amount.”

“I’m sorry? You do realise the scale of the project?”

“Ah but shur, I have to pay the lads and they’ll have to come and go from it… I could knock a bit off for you on the price.”

“No, thank you. I don’t need you to ‘... knock a bit off’. What I need is an accurate quote, an agreed date and assurance that the work will be completed within the specified timeframe.”

“That’s the other thing now…I wouldn’t be able to start anything until May.”

Cue Scarlett O’Hara face.

There were other ‘suitors’. Some showed up almost two hours late with weak excuses, others expressing they wouldn’t be, ‘... down your way for a few weeks when I’ll have a job on and I can have a look then’. The disparity in quotes from those who did show up was both extensive and alarming. I was losing faith, and almost drained the bottle of ‘Eau de Grasping at Straws’.

Then, he showed up. Not only on time but early. He took details and images of our home. He did not enquire as to what my husband thought and was genuinely interested and courteous. As he left, with an agreement to submit a detailed quote by the week’s end, I crossed my fingers and hoped that he was finally the one.

Currently looking into brick-laying course, just in case…


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