Gaslight, when used as a verb, means — to cause (a person) to doubt his or her sanity through the use of psychological manipulation. The phrase became popular after the movie, ‘Gaslight,’ was released in 1944. In the film, an abusive husband secretly and repeatedly dimmed and brightened the gaslights in the house while accusing his wife of imagining the flickering.
My house is a very, very, fine house… I am questioning the rationale behind owning a home. It would be so much easier to rent. I’ve been in this 100-year-old house for twenty years. It has been my burden alone since my divorce a decade ago, when I bought out the ex. The home was in disrepair and I have been struggling to stay ahead of the upkeep ever since. I’ve replaced things I didn’t even know existed. I grew up in a big city where “well pumps” are foreign objects.
Why did the aliens not visit Earth? They looked up the reviews and saw it was a one-star planet.*joke.
The latest home repair project to consume me has me dealing with a repairman, assigned to me by a roofing contractor, whom I shall, from this point forward, refer to as “Slick.” I found Slick online; he works for a roofing business that I chose because of their copious five-star reviews on Yelp. Slick negotiated with my homeowners’ insurance company for months on my behalf. They finally gave in and agreed to cover most of the damage to my home caused by hail and wind: roof, siding, gutters, soffit, fascia, skylights, torn window screens, water damaged interior walls and ceilings. This was great news — I thought it was.
“What do you weigh… 100 pounds?” That was a question posed to me, not at the carnival ‘Guess Your Weight and Age Booth,’ but by the repairman, who is now my contractor. I signed a contract to use his service to repair the covered damage to my home. I’ll call him CB from this point forward. That’s short for carnival barker.
I met CB when Slick was in the early period of negotiating with my insurance company. He took pictures of the interior water damage in my house. When the question of my weight came up, I had an immediate physical reaction; my jaw dropped and my eyes popped. My verbal response took longer and, in hindsight, should have been more clever, but it caught me off guard. I said, “I weigh 110; that last ten pounds is hard to lose.”
I am the client in this relationship, otherwise a stranger to this man, and I hold the purse strings. Imagine questions too inappropriate to ask a new acquaintance. This one makes the list, does it not? How can he presume my frame is not the result of an illness? My 88-year-old mother suggested that he was trying to compliment me, or maybe distract me, but I am convinced his reason was more sinister than that. It was an attempt to make me feel small, weak… insignificant.
Whatever, he’s rude. I couldn’t care less, as long as he does his work. But that was when red flags began popping up. CB is not affiliated with the roofing company that sent Slick to my door. Slick said my job was “too small,” so he turned me over to someone else.
Another signal that made my ears perky was that Slick started emailing me from a different email address, not linked to his company.
Slick and CB are gaslighters beyond any I’ve encountered. They can outdo the worst boyfriend I ever had. He became an ex-boyfriend the day he came to visit me at work with a giant hickey on his neck. Denying it was there, he looked me in the eye and told me I was “crazy.”
CB appointed a third person, his brother-in-law, to oversee the job. Let’s call him Lumpy. Lumpy sat in his blackout windowed truck while workers rushed to complete work in a fraction of the time the internet says it should take. I can only guess how they did it.
They did the siding the following week, in three days. It’s supposed to take ten. I know how they did it, and why. They were in a rush because they were trying to hide the fact that they left up the old insulation, and they left areas without insulation at all. They did not put up a single sheet of new insulation which was in the contract. I know this because I watched and took pictures every step of the way. That is unfortunate for them and they know it.
Despite the freezing temperatures, the roof work finally began, on December 30 and was completed on the 31st. The following day we had eight inches of snow, meaning I couldn’t see what they had done. Unfortunately for me, I can’t get my boney ass up on top of my two story roof to see what they didn’t do.
I did try to argue with CB before the siding went up. He told me that was how they did it, they “never take down old insulation.” I have access to the internet and found the contract that specified the kind of insulation they were going to install, but did not. I’m being tag teamed, they’re trying to confuse me, and blatantly lying about what was covered. They tell me the settlement did not include gutters, and they put up the old ones and offered to sell me new ones. I have an itemized list provided by my insurance company that says gutters were covered.
Little do these men know, I can read.
Aside from my literacy, a problem these three stooges have, is that I have not paid them. The insurance company is using my mortgage company as a middle man and that is where the check is. They’re sending most of the money next week but will not release the balance until after they inspect the work.
It was a a bleak early morning on the shortest day of the year, December 21, when a factory worker walked up to his supervisor and claimed he was a lightbulb. The supervisor sent him home, thinking the man had gone crazy. As he left, a coworker began gathering his personal belongings and got up to leave; the boss shouted, “Where do you think YOU’RE going!?” The guy said, “Well, I can’t work in the dark!”*Joke break
The old blue insulation that remains on my house is no longer made because it’s a delicacy for rodents. They eat it and climb up it to get into the walls. I have a rodent problem. Lumpy suggested I “just call an exterminator.” The exterminator told me about the insulation. And when I pointed out that the porch light they reinstalled no longer works he said it was probably the light bulb. I tried three lightbulbs before I brought it up.
Now that I’ve pointed out my knowledge of insulation, and sent them the photos I took that prove the old insulation is still on the house, they’re scrambling. They’re also trying to come up with another argument regarding the gutters. I told them I was giving them a chance to review the insurance documents before I call the adjuster to have him clarify my concerns.
Today I’m fielding phone calls from CB and Slimy and let me tell you I’m exhausted. They must know by now they picked on the wrong person to mess with. This isn’t fun.
Their failure to insulate my house renders their contract void in my opinion, besides attempting to defraud me they are committing insurance fraud. I caught them in the act, and have proof. Meanwhile I’m gearing up for another fight. CB will arrive to walk the property tomorrow and feed me more lies. He’ll offer to negotiate free extra work to keep me happy and give me a good price on what was included in the settlement.
This brings me to the point of my post. I’m insulted that these guys thought they could get away with this. I thought it was because I’m a woman. That may be, but according to my research the people targeted by unscrupulous contractors most often are the elderly. Now I’m really mad. Tomorrow I’ll ask the Carnival Barker to guess my age.
An E-flat walks into a bar. The bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve minors.”*unrelated joke