Thursday, August 21, 2008
Trusting the Fast-talking Crazy Greek Painter Guy
When we decided to have our house painted I sent out an email to about 30 girlfriends, asking for advice on who to hire. I got about six suggestions, but one stood out. First of all, her husband is an FBI agent so I knew the company had to be trustworthy, and second, she told me the guy suggested completely different colors to her than she had in mind, and he was right. I'd never heard of a professional painter who cared what colors you chose. She said they were completely thrilled with the results. So I called the number.

The man who called me back was like a character out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Here in Pittsburgh a lot of the painters are Greek. He told me to call him Kosta because his real name, first and last, was too long to pronounce, both started with a K and had, seriously, about 15 letters behind them.

I have never met a woman who talked as fast as he did, or as much, or was as schmoozy. He had a notebook full of photos of houses he'd painted, some of them showing him standing posing next to the house in short shorts. A lot like those shorts our husbands wore when they played high school basketball, thirty + years ago. His hairdo looked like something John Travolta would have worn during the disco age. However, he did not arrive at our house in short shorts, and his hairdo had been updated.

I decided to trust my girlfriend. I decided to trust her after I met him and emailed her to be SURE we were talking about the same guy. She assured me he was a good choice. When he showed me his notebook and asked me to go through it while he walked around the house, and I started to set it down on the hood of his car, he stopped me, explaining I would scratch his car. I figured picky was a good thing, we got the quote and he assured us he could get the job done this summer. With all the rain we have here it's hard to get a painter to commit to a paint job, and sometimes you have to hire them for the next summer, seriously. Or they say yes ma'am they'll get the job done then they call you in early October to explain that we've had too much rain and they'll call next spring. I took his assurance that he'd get the job done, and signed the contract.

When the paint crew showed up, several months later, Joey and Brady were a bit earthy but seemed like good guys. I baked them brownies, made them lemonaide, and as I reported before they told me the creek would serve well as a potty for the next two days. Here's what she looked like before they started the job.

Pretty but a bit boring. We thought a new color would make the columns and porch railing pop out a bit, not literally of course.

They spent two days covering the windows and shutters with paper, spraying the house with a bonding agent then spraying the actual paint. I had no idea you could spray an entire house, since I'm challenged to spray paint anything outdoors without leaving our car or driveway or anything within 50 feet a different color. The guys and I had a few conversations that truly left me shocked. Their language, the things they felt completely comfortable bringing up - well, sometimes I just didn't comment. The house looked good with the color Kosta had suggested, and they assured me the "Michaelangelo team" would be here in two weeks to handpaint the doors, windows, etc.

Sure enough, as soon as we got back from Texas we got a phone call from fast-talking Kosta. He said the crew would be over the next day, and assured us we'd be pleased with the finished results. One of the crew members was deaf and it was interesting to see that the rest of the crew was quite adept at sign language. One was more earthy than even anyone on the first crew, but he seemed to know what he was doing, and other than me having to kill the wasps hovering around a window because he was scared to death of them, we had little interaction.

The shutters and trim ended up being a slightly different color than I thought we'd agreed to but still looked nice so I decided it didn't really matter. They crushed a good number of my flowers but I'd been warned that would likely happen. We've got a few circles of white paint on the lawn but a mowing or two will take care of that. Every single inch of the outside of our house has a fresh coat of paint, and I think she turned out lovely. She's been wearing white for a good forty years and I imagine she was ready for a change.

It's a subtle change, from white to khaki, but the crazy painter guy was right I think. I'm happy to have the house to myself today, no workmen on ladders outside the windows, no loud radios playing outside, likely annoying our neighbors, nobody wandering down to the creek.... another big thing off the list, and that feels pretty good too. Still, if you have to choose between recommendations from your girlfriends, go with the one whose husband is an FBI agent because somewhere in the middle of the job you might need a little reassurance that it's going to be okay.


  posted at 8:50 AM

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