Jack of all, master of …

Categories Commerce and products

A German friend introduced me to the term “project fatigue,” and it describes perfectly the MEGO (my eyes glaze over) feeling I get with renovations and other work proceeding at glacial (lack of) speed.

Also, when I hire someone to do a job, it is not my job to tell them how to do it. Get on with it!

And so it was that I wasn’t paying particular attention when Martín put the sheetrock ceilings in our little country house a few years ago. He used wood instead of steel framing, which I thought poor judgment. In fact, the first batch of lumber delivered was so warped and twisted he had to send it all back. When I asked, he said that if steel framing gets bent, you can’t straighten it out again. OK, cast logic to the wind:

  1. Why should it get bent in the first place?
  2. What about the natural tendency of lumber to warp and twist – especially the low-grade stuff sold here?
  3. Oh, and what about bugs eating wood, which they really like to do here?

Anyway, I wasn’t there, and wasn’t paying attention, because I would have spotted this immediately. Anyone who has done anything with drywall would. In fact, you would find it incredible that someone would pretend to know what they were doing and do something so wrong.

Here’s one example of what’s happening everywhere:

drywall error

The long edges of a sheet of drywall are tapered. To cover that joint, you use a 6″ knife and put a thin layer of “mud” (I’ll have to find out what that’s called here), then lay on top of it paper (or plastic mesh) “tape,” then the finish layer of mud on top of that.

What you don’t do is simply put the tape in the joint, and cover it with mud. Which is exactly what Martín – the jack of all trades – did here. What hasn’t fallen down, will.

Unfortunately, this is quite common here. Everybody’s a builder. Everybody’s an electrician. Everybody’s a plumber. If drywall is a solution, everyone knows how to do drywall.

Except that they don’t.

There are exceptions, but after nine years I am still amazed at the general Uruguayan acceptance of mediocrity. Chinese power tools with two-month guarantees come to mind. Vendors who advertise online, and take money for, products they don’t have in stock. Yet another occurrence last couple days: twice charged then revoked charge on my credit card without explanation. But I have an explanation: they discovered they simply didn’t have the product they advertised.

Es lo que hay. “That’s what it is.” Mediocrity. How unfortunate.



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