This Is a Test and Only a Test

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Freedom .

While chatting earlier this month, AngelSu warned me that I’d be sorely tested this month and to be prepared for vandalism and lots of activity and competition around Thanksgiving. I had no idea the vandalism would be by the roofing crew after I refused to sign a certificate of completion last Friday when the work was not even touched on the front half of the house and the skylight was wide open. They were extremely angry that I refused to sign, especially after I pointed out that it was illegal for them to request my signature before the job was done.

My gardens paid the price for my obstinate behavior, and everything was trashed as well as open spots left in the roof prior to a thunderstorm that fell 6 days after they promised to be finished. Last Saturday afternoon, buckets of roofing nails were thrown into the flowerbeds and all over the lawn, reaching into my neighbor’s lawn. The damage done outside of the house was appalling. I debated over whether to call the police or the major home improvement company that had subcontracted these idiots.

AngelSu also reminded me to be very careful with my communication and very deliberate in what I said to those who challenged me. Again, her concern was focused around the third week of November. So it’s a good thing I’ve been documenting and very careful in what I’ve agreed to and what I’ve refused. I was put on notice to stand my ground, and I have.

Today was Day 11 of the Great Roof Fiasco and the roofing crew has gone. As of noon today. Expecting me to sign off on a satisfactory job so I can be charged the full amount and they can be paid. They did a credible job with cleaning up the vandalism, including hauling off the garden fragments, excess nails, most of the wads of chewing gum in the grass, lunch trash and rotting food, and my decimated solar lights.

I have refused to sign the certificate of completion, even now. Why is this a surprise?Flying By Night novel

The work is shoddy and incomplete, the rose gardens are non-existent, the ceilings are stained with big leaks where they have not been leaked before, my solar lights left with the roofer, the flat tires have been fixed, and my kids could have done better on the roof themselves with an Exacto-knife and a couple of hours of practice. Maybe I was expecting too much to expect the drip lip (or whatever they called it) to actually be secured to the house and the ends to meet instead of exposing the boards and corners underneath. Or that the shingles not be nailed down over a live branch (I’m sure the branch will be happy to be kept dry). Sheesh, I expect so much!

The usual naysayers in my life are warning me, too, just as they used to. I should be careful of causing trouble, I’m told, even after I’ve been vandalized and my sanctuary has been violated. The subcontractor, if I refuse to sign the completion form, might put a lien against my house. But I’m not scared. What’s right is right. Back me into a corner, and I’ll show you my claws.

Shannon, Vicki, and Jean all reminded me that my reaction this year to being cornered is different from last year and certainly from the years before. As if to illustrate my previous mindset, Daddy tells me, “Well, don’t do anything to make the roofers mad or they might not do a good job for you.” Uh, too late, Daddy. I’m paying for a good job and it’s not been done, not even close. And why isn’t anyone concerned if I’m the one who’s mad?

So it’s a test this year, I’m told, to make sure I understand that I can take care of myself and what I will and won’t put up with. A reminder to stand up for myself, even though it might mean a bit of vandalism or that someone hates me for not giving in. There’s no requirement that people like me. And standing my ground can pay off—huge.

As if to assure me my stubborn refusal to take the easy way out and roll over and sign off on something that’s just not right, I received an envelope today from my insurance company, the one I fought with for several months until they sent a new adjustor out to climb onto the roof—unlike her predecessor—and examine the damage I’d filed a claim for. My claim had been approved, and my willingness to take a stand had been rewarded by over $21,000 I thought I’d have to eat.

So I guess standing my ground does pay indeed.

Gosh, I hope they’re not mad at me.