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Springfield, MO

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Opinion: How to know you live with a contractor

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I love tradespeople. They build stuff and fix stuff. They keep good water from bad water, wrangle electricity, shelter us from elements, and handle dirty and hard jobs. This column is a salute to the men and women who do dirty jobs.

I enjoy a certain lifestyle that someone who doesn’t live with a handyperson can’t even imagine. My husband, aka Hotrod, is a plumber. That helps when something springs a leak or we don’t have enough hot water. There are other advantages – and some quirkiness – that people who live with a tradesperson can enjoy. Here it goes:

You know you live with a contractor …

If you have not parked your car in your garage for 17 years because it’s full of tools and parts.

When he has as many pictures of tools, trucks and projects on his phone as he has of the kids. Or way more.

When, at a party, someone asks him about solar panels, and the party moves to the roof.

If you are still on the roof two hours later because the partygoer didn’t know there is a difference between thermal and PV, aka photovoltaic.

If you receive homemade presents for all gift-giving occasions: a wind chime made from quarter inch steel, a wedding band fashioned from a brass fitting, etc.

If you 100% love these gifts, more than any others you’ve ever received.

When you get that feeling in your gut when you know he is on a roof or in a trench or working on a powerhouse. Then he comes home and acts like it’s nothing.

If he still carries one of his grandad’s tool boxes.

When your kid shows you a broken anything, and tells you, “Dad says he can’t fix it.” And you send him back to his father because that is a lie.

If you have ever seen him chuckling at a plastic pipe sticking out of the roof of a building, with no explanation.

If your kids love going on ride-alongs and your newborn has gone on a service call – in a Baby Bjorn, before 4 months of age.

If you find a Lego on his workbench and are told, “Leave that. It’s for a project.”

When you hear, “Got a sec?” and then find yourself on the heavy-end of a water heater, loading it into the truck and dropping it off on the job 50 miles away.

When he walks in the door, dipped in mud or something worse, holding a 2-foot diameter blob of something disgusting. When you ask him, “What is that?” and he answers, “What is what?”

If he has never been to a family member’s home without being asked to look at something weird or smell something awful.

If “dress up” means Day-Glo or camo, often together.

If you went to the neighborhood picnic, and an older woman hugged your husband really hard and thanked him – because her husband died recently, and she couldn’t shovel her drive, and yours did it, for two snowy weeks, every morning. And this is the first you’ve heard about it.

If your husband travels with his own showerhead and a crescent wrench.

If you’ve seen your child sporting duct tape where a Band-Aid should be.

Now, you know you are a contractor’s wife, if the bomb dropped or the tornado descended or the earth shook, you and your kids would be all right. Somehow, he would make a shelter, get water and create warmth. For you, and probably most of the neighborhood. And you know this as sure as you know anything to be true.

Ellen Rohr is an author and business consultant offering profit-building tips, trending business blogs and online workshops at EllenRohr.com. Her books include “Where Did the Money Go?” and “The Bare Bones Weekend Biz Plan.” She can be reached at ellen@ellenrohr.com.

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