Lind­say Woods

Irish Examiner - Weekend - - Contents -

‘I see you drive a van there… are you in the build­ing trade by any chance? So, do you by any chance know some­one who builds things above sea level?

Inow 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. 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 evi­soff cer­ate 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 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…

@the­girlinthep­a­per

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