Engaging the Worst of People

I have to say that when you meet a bad person, they sure can be bad. There are differing degrees of badness, and the person I’m talking about is just about the pits. I know he will be in the smallest of minorities, as for the most, I’ve found the Portuguese to be most welcoming and helpful. In the case of the person I’m talking about here, I’ll call him Bad-Man, he is beyond belief in ability, integrity and honesty.

Problems for some, and I include myself, start with not speaking the language, and not knowing enough of anything within a new environment. To my mind, it’s a bit like being being deaf, dumb and blind, all at the same time. The only good thing, is that I’m mobile and have internet access. On the subject of internet, searches in Portugal, that’s far from easy as it’s not so well geared up as other western countries.

Getting back to the Bad-Man, on the surface he seems fine, and I’ve had minor dealings with him in the past. On this occasion, I needed a log burner fitted. I’d have done the job myself if the unit was not so heavy and I did not have to deal with 60cm thick stone walls. You can’t just pop down to a local tool hire shop in Portugal as few, if any, exist and most definitely, not where I am.

No having the tools of physical strength required, resulted in the same old same old. Pop down to the local cafe, ask there, and everything impossible becomes possible. Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying, the cafe can be a brilliant place to start, but not always. Anyhow, off I trot to the local cafe for help and advice. It was provided by way of Bad-Man.

As said, I’d had minor dealings with him before, and even though not perfect, the guys a real grafter, but sloppy worker. No matter, it’s only a fire that needs fitting, what could be simpler? On Mad-Man arriving, it becomes obvious that the job is a little more involved than he first thought, and therefore contacted a friend of his, a brick layer. On a second meeting with Bad-Man and brick man, I found it impossible to explain what was required, even if from my point of view, it seemed obvious. For some reason, we were going to meet again, and on this occasion I was armed with an interpreter. Brilliant, what could go wrong. Read on.

Between now four people, some very good progress was made where it was defined what was required work-wise, charges involved and a time scale. One would think progress could be made, and it was, in a fashion of Portuguese style. The works were to take five, perhaps six days.

For day one, a start time was proposed of early morning. Hiccup one. No show until twelve hours later, so into the evening. Okay, fair enough, what else have I got to do. Well, nothing for either of us, as all that was happening, the tools being delivered. Bad-Man points to himself and says, Amanhã. Yep, that means tomorrow. I understand that, but what I never noted was that he never said, amanhã, manhã. Next day comes and there is no show from the reliable, sorry, that should read unreliable Bad-Man. I thought to myself, he could not have meant evening again. Sure enough, natural light starts to fade, and he arrives.

Again, what else do I have planned? So time is neither here nor there, but I start to wonder, how late will he be working til. I soon discover because he downs tools at about 7.30pm and explains that the police will arrive if he continues and disturbs the peace. Shit, this is getting a bit ridiculous, and especially so, as it’s only supposed to be a job of five or six days, and it’s becoming obvious that the time scale ain’t going to plan. I’m assured, fully fitted, finished and working within the specified time. I did doubt this big time. The following day was again arranged and this time, I presumed we’re talking, bed time. Ha, ha, was I right? No. Why? Because he never turned up until three days later and it’s now Friday. Stupid me has come to the conclusion that these guys work the evenings after their main day job. But, there is a positive. We have two full clear days, those being Saturday and Sunday.

Upon the prat leaving, he says, Segunda. Right, I understand Segunda-feira means Monday and I guess all days Saturday is for shopping and getting pissed in the evening and Sunday is all day at church followed by another piss-up in the evening. Okay, I’m in Portugal, so I’ve got to live by their rules. Idiot says, the job will be completed on time. I can see it won’t, but silly prat can’t.

I think to myself, time does not really matter so much and try to be understanding. Winter is not here yet and at least, some, progress has been made. And in fairness, progress had been made. There was now a gapping hole in the wall, and before not. A perfectly good light unit smashed. I used this to aid evening work, and ceramic tiles destroyed because Bad-Man has a brain like a dick with only one mission. Perhaps I should have called him Mr. Prat or Mr. Dick. I can’t in all honesty because he’s a Bad Man, dick head and prat, but that becomes a bit long winded in title to keep typing. Plus, I’d have to add a few more, not to be viewed unless over eighteen years of age expletives. I forgot to mention, he would have been more than happy to Kango through main structural reinforced concrete beams. Yes, he is Bad-Man-prat-dick-head-arse-hole-crook. Crook, explained later.

Segunda-feira arrives, and by this time, I understand the night time owl hours. Sure enough, a visit at a more congenial hour, 5pm and there is still some natural light. There is great relief in my heart, and on this occasion, it is the brick layer. Now, we’re talking about a totally different class of workmanship. Clean, tidy and well organised compared to the previous Kango happy idiot that thought it appropriate to leave a ton of rubble on the living room floor. I’ll not go further on the better educated brick layer apart to say, his work, so far, brilliant and he has completed his initial task so as to permit the idiot to continue.

Bad-Man arrives again to install the wood burner. What could go wrong. Nothing really as it ought to have been as simple as sticking a hard dick into an opening without lubrication required. On this occasion, two people arrived that are far younger than me. That was good as I’ve already suffered hernia once and did not want my balls being dislodged again. There was however a new problem, in that, possibly due to property vibration, the lighting in many living rooms had failed as was the case with wall sockets. It transpired, there were loose wires.

On this day, everything went well, but I was concerned that the beautifully polished limestone I’d had install would be destroyed. There is time for that yet.

Another day arrives and Bad-Man arrives at the predicted late hour. Never mind, progress is being made, and so he proceeds with his usual energy and vigour. I’ll say one thing in his favor, he’s a hard working dick-head. All goes to plan on this two hour stint. Yet another day arrives and he’s back to do the electric cable for the log burner. On this occasion, I was far wiser and had actually created the cable holes and install the conduit and switch. I knew I could do this with small sensible sided tools, causing less damage compared to his JCB digger style of workmanship. Everything went to plan and this qualified electrician, as stated on his business card made the electrical connections. Presto, the log burner works and it’s throwing out heat so I’m warm for winter.

For the next few days, nothing happens. There is no Mr. bricky and no Bad-Man. More days pass and I discover a few problems. Heating to the upper floor is not working and the all cast iron log burner is not electrically earthed so aiding in my future electrocution. Never mind, between dick head and my brain, we’ll get it sorted.

The Bad-Man Title

There is another day and another visit. This time, to collect tools and give me a bill for materials and labour. Ur labour, I have a contract with the far superior brick layer so it’s him I’m paying. The material are a different matter and I’m happy to pay those. There is no hurry with payment I’m assured. Brilliant, time for me to have a drink, then another and then another as I’m getting more and more pissed-off looking at the bill and doing Google translates. This is where Bad-Man gets his name.

On close inspection of the no headed hand written bill I first consider the quantities of materials. This lead me to write the following on Facebook.

I’m a little hopping mad today as I measured everything precisely. So I’ll say the following. In the central Portugal area, what kind of average hourly pay rate would be considered fair and proper. I ask having received a huge bill for general labouring work. I’d not have queried it had material quantities not been inflated by about 60%. For example, 18 metres of stainless flue charged at euro 360 when 11 metres was used and should have been at euros 220. And, 3 metres at euros 75 when only 2 metres were used at euros 50. Euros 165 overcharge on just 2 items. Labour, perhaps 8 hours at 190. I’m now putting a hold on the works.

I had some brilliant replies to the above. But getting back to the story thus far, I engaged the services of a translator, and as luck would have it, she knew the Bad-Man. She assured me upon question that this would not be a conflict of interest as business was business, and friends were friends. Upon our meeting, she was most correct in that respect. Bad-Man received an interrogation come bollocking GNR Portuguese style, and the now little boy Bad-Man was left very red faced and after about two hours of female grilling, he finally admitted he had made mistakes in his calculations. Mistake I ask. In some respects, I felt sorry for him and would almost have given him a second chance as I don’t actually dislike the little guy.

All in all, he admitted the the bill of 799.50 was over charged by 260.00. The story does not end there. Me not knowing the cost of anything was at the time of the grilling not aware that a material charge of euros 60 was also inflated by 25 euros.

The log burner fitting is not completed at this time, it now needs to be removed and have additional ducting fitted to heat the upper rooms as is possible. The completion of the job will be delayed for a considerable time now, but what the hell.

I’ve been very unfortunate in the person that I came into contact with and my regret is that even though I wished to provide work to the local community, it was not a wise decision. Where I am, there is a very small population and it seems, everyone knows everyone. The long and the short is that should anyone be considered at blame, it will be me. Why? Because I am unable to communicate well, it become impossible to defend oneself in such situations. The story shall continue and it is with regret I felt the need to disclose this episode in such a negative light. The Portuguese to my mind are a wonderful people and I have just been unfortunate in this instance.

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