Friday, December 17, 2010


‘This is ‘Springtime Nursing Homes’ an alarmed voice on the telephone informed me. ‘We have a problem with your vinyl – it won’t stay on the floor! The floor layer is jumping up and down….’
‘I am terribly sorry, but would you mind telling me where you are ringing from?’
The intake of a deep breath was heard. ’This is Brett Langley speaking. I am the manager of the nursing home in the town of Brine. Our local floor layer cannot install your bloody vinyl – it won’t stay on the floor. And our vinyl floor layer is jumping up and down!’
Writing everything down in my trusted day book, I required more details: ’I am giving your matter my utmost attention, Brett, and am noting down all the facts you are giving me….who is your flooring contractor?’
‘It’s Seaside Floor Coverings and the floor layer is a very good bloke, but he’s jumping up and down….’
‘I’ve got that, Brett. Now when can I come and meet you on site? Preferably with your floor layer and the owner of Seaside Floor Coverings…’
‘I want you to come right away, because the floor layer cannot finish his installation, he’s jumping….’
‘Yes, yes, I understand, Brett. Let me make a few phone calls and postpone some appointments I have for this afternoon and I shall ring you back and tell you the exact time I will be in your lovely town!’
And promptly, I arranged for a site-meeting for 4 pm and arrived somewhat earlier to familiarise myself with the situation.
Of course, not all tradesmen are like that. Most of them are hard working and decent people who have learned their trade properly in the colleges. They dress professionally and cleanly, remove surplus glue marks off the vinyl floor immediately and sweep the floor clean. Some even have a floor polisher with them and give their flooring a wonderful shine as the extra touch to an outstanding installation!
I had no chance of finding out to which category this floor layer belonged to – he wasn’t there!
‘Where is the floor layer?’ I enquired with amazement.
‘He is not here!’ His boss stated the obvious.
‘Why isn’t he?’ I enquired.
‘He had other things to do!’ His boss did not like being quizzed too deeply.
I took a deep breath. ‘If I come all the way from Melbourne in this matter, one would think that, if only for legal reasons, he’ll be here……’
‘You tell me and I’ll pass it on to him!’ His boss became more brutish.
‘I have to ask a few questions about the installation and if you can answer them for him, it is all right. Now what is the general problem?’
‘Well, don’t you see, it doesn’t stay put. The floor layer was jumping up and down……’
Brett Langley from the nursing home contributed: ‘ As you can see, he tried to install the stairs and couldn’t do it…your material!‘ Hitting me with an accusing look.
‘Ah, firstly, stairs need to be installed upwards not downwards – that’s the correct procedure - Australian Standard.’
Brett went on the attack: ‘Listen, he was jumping up and down….’
‘What adhesive was used? This question I directed to the flooring retailer.
‘Whatever you recommend!’
‘I am sorry, but for legal reasons you need to tell me, as I have to note down your answer.’
A shrug of the shoulder was the only answer.
The manager of the nursing home became impatient. ‘He is a very good bloke, Syd is. Tried very hard to install your flooring – for two days, actually. And then he came on Saturday as well and couldn’t do it. He was jumping……’
‘Yes, I’ve made a note of it.’
‘Now, has the subfloor been sanded and sealed?’ A shrug of the shoulders followed.
‘Has he spread the adhesive, whatever he used, with a trowel that has the correct size of notches?’ They darted incredulous glances darted at each other.
‘Has he got a trade certificate…..’
That hit home and everybody gasped!
‘Ah’, I thought, ‘he hasn’t!’
And now they were speaking to me simultaneously in a wild babble, accompanied with frantic gestures of their hands.
‘He was jumping up and down’ they kept repeating.
There was nothing more to be achieved. So, I managed to stay polite and outwardly calm and bid them farewell. This is one of the cases where I could not convince anybody of anything and drove off with the two still shouting behind me the main achievements of their athletic floor layer!

 Peter Frederick 

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