Because, that’s why

By Mir
April 29, 2013

“I’ll take Mir and Otto’s Adventures in Home Ownership for $200, Alex.”

“And the answer is: No.”

“I’m… sorry? That’s the whole answer?”

“Yes. The answer is No.”

“Okay. Um… what is Can we ever do a single, simple project around here without it turning into a complete clusterfuck?

“Correct! On the board!”

“Yeah, screw you, Alex. Screw you AND your stupid board.”

So, um, I’ve decided to believe that the universe decided I really needed a distraction right about now. It’s a gift, really. The gift of dumbfuckery, right here in our yard. WE ARE SO LUCKY, because trust me, it’s been a distraction. Yay?

Two weeks ago, I shared the somewhat eye-roll-inducing (I know, I KNOW) complaint that blowing our tax refund on a new pool liner wasn’t going quite as smoothly as planned. When we last left off, the good news was that we no longer had a hole in the wall upstairs, and said wall is now painted a lovely shade of Oops. The bad news, though, was that it cost an extra gazillion dollars to make needed repairs to the pool steps, part of what we needed done wasn’t done, and then thanks to impending rain we didn’t even have the stupid liner.

Well! Because we are us, things got even better.

So, okay, first Otto decided to be a problem solver, and he did some research and bought some stuff and we spent an afternoon sanding down and repainting the metal trim around the pool, ourselves. (I have since learned that that trim is called coping. Possibly because you repaint it while still believing that your pool is someday going to be functional again? This is how you cope?) With the coping all fixed up, the pool guys finally showed up to do the liner the next day.

I didn’t know this until I watched the liner being “installed,” but a pool liner is like… a giant shower curtain. I don’t know. It seemed like it should be thicker, or something. But it’s just this vinyl liner (duh, Mir) that fits inside the concrete and makes everything look pretty and keeps the water in and stuff. This somehow is installed by two guys who get down into the pool and wrestle it around for a while and then they set up an ENORMOUS (no, seriously, really big) vacuum sort of thing that sucks out any air between the liner and the concrete. This is to keep the liner where they put it until you can fill the pool and the water will hold it where it belongs. I found this all fascinating and I couldn’t wait to see the pool all filled up with water and vacuum-less, not the least of which because the vacuum is LOUD.

If you have well water, I guess when you need to fill a pool you can arrange to… buy a giant truckload of water. I have no idea how that works, actually. If you have city water (we do), you just stick a hose in the pool and turn it on. (You also call the water company, first, and hope that they will cut you a break on the water cost, but they will not only not do that, they’ll remind you that technically, watering restrictions are still in place, and therefore you can only fill the pool on Sundays. This will cause your mild-mannered husband to use some creative language when telling you about this exchange. So that’s fun.) If you have pretty good water pressure (we do) you can actually stick TWO hoses in the pool. On a weekday! LIKE A REBEL! WOOOOOO!!

So the pool guys got the liner in, set up the vacuum, and then when I asked if it was time to put the hoses in, they said, “Oh, hang on, we have to put the light back in, first.”

Well. Part of the work estimate (translation: not only did Otto discuss this with them, but we have written proof on the work order in the form of “remove and patch light”) was that they were not supposed to put the broken, ugly-ass underwater light fixture which the former owners had left here for us back, but just disappear it and make everything pretty. Had I not gone outside when I had, they would’ve cut a giant hole in our brand new liner, so it was VERY GOOD NEWS that I stopped them before they did that. But then they said they needed to “cover the fixture” under the liner, and—surprise!—they did not have the needed materials with them to do so.

They assured me this was not a problem. (As is so often the case here in the south, their assurances were very much of the “don’t worry your pretty little head, little lady” variety.) Go ahead and start filling the pool, they said. Call us tomorrow when the water is up to the shallow end, and we’ll come back and finish dealing with the light fixture, and remove the big vacuum, and then you can fill it the rest of the way.

I believed them, because (spoiler!) I am the slowest learner in the history of man- or womankind.

Two hoses and half a day later, the deep end was full and the pool guys came back. They brought a piece of sheet metal and stuck it down behind the liner WITH DUCT TAPE. Yes. I was all, “Oh, haha, that’s not really how you attach that, right?” And they were all “What?”

Then they turned the hoses back on and took away the vacuum.

Otto came home later that night and took one look at the bulging rectangular sheet metal plate that was clearly visible through the liner—even the broken light fixture hadn’t looked that bad—and called the pool guys. They told us to turn off the water and that they’d come back and have a look “as soon as possible.”

Things get fuzzy for me, here, because there were a few other non-pool things going on (HAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHA) and also, I began to basically not care if it was perfect as long as it was DONE, but a couple of days later a few pool guys sauntered in and poked around and announced that in order to fix it, they would need to drain most of the (freshly added) water back out of the pool.

Not gonna lie, here—by this time, I barely managed to sputter, “Are you KIDDING ME? We are PAYING for this water!” before informing Otto that he had to take over on dealing with them because I was fantasizing about punching people. (And really, yeah, we ARE paying for the water, and WHY is this so complicated, but I was not mad at the pool guys so much as I was just mad at the world. Sorry, pool guys! It’s not you, it’s me! Well, it’s also you. But I am particularly unstable right now, so sorry about that, anyway.) They assured us that they would reimburse us for the water because this was their error.

The pool guys put a small pump in the pool to drain water, then said they’d be back in a day. Or maybe two. They weren’t sure. Otto made some stern eyebrows and an hour later another pool guy showed up with a much bigger pump and a giant earring and said he was going to “take care of everything.” He promptly pumped several thousand gallons of water into the dog run (pool liner installation: now with bonus swamp land and muddy dog!) and then futzed around with the light fixture and the metal plate and eventually it didn’t look so awful anymore. (Some bolts had been sticking out, I guess? He cut them, the plate could then go flush to the wall, he added some thin foam, it no longer looks like an accident.)

He put the hoses back in the pool. “Just fill it up, you’re all set!” he said. He left.

We ran the hoses for the rest of that day. We turned them off before we went to bed. Otto got up early the next morning, turned them back on, and went to the office. I wandered outside a few hours later and looked around and then my face melted off and I called Otto to screech with my skeletal face-hole that POOL! LINER! BORKED! HOLY SHIT!

Remember the giant vacuum thing? That holds the liner in place? Well, they didn’t bring that back when they pumped all of that water out to fix the light. It seems that earring pool guy removed too much water, or forgot to bring the vacuum, or maybe he just knew I thought his earring was ridiculous. I DO NOT KNOW. All I know is that this liner, this stupid giant shower curtain that costs a gazillion dollars, is custom-made to fit the pool, right? BECAUSE IT’S A LINER. But because it’s vinyl, it’s kind of flimsy, and it has some stretch, and if you don’t put it down in the pool exactly the way it’s supposed to go, it will look like it was installed by drunk beavers because it will get flattened to the concrete by the water but will be all weird and stretched on one side and all wrinkled and smashed-looking on the other.

GUESS what happened. Never saw that coming, right?

Otto has been in touch with Head Pool Guy about this, and Head Pool Guy is SO apologetic, really. He is just SO VERY SORRY. This is NOT USUAL, you understand. And they will fix it just as soon as they can. (When is that? I’m not sure. NOT YET. And it’s supposed to rain all week. Again.) They will need to take ALL of the water out of the pool, this time, I think, then reseat the liner, then refill the pool (with the giant vacuum running). This is all assuming that the liner doesn’t RIP, which I am not convinced it won’t, because really, you are not supposed to be messing with it as much as this one has been messed with.

So that’s… that. And it’s annoying, and expensive, and disruptive, and really kind of enraging because c’mon, a pool liner is not supposed to take THREE FREAKING WEEKS to install correctly. Why is this so complicated?
A) Because it’s us!
B) Because it is!
C) Because I needed a distraction?
D) All of the above.


  1. Brenda

    Oy. Vey. Do they not have competent installer people in the south? I just do not understand how you keep getting people willing to do such shoddy work in the first place. I mean, clearly it’s costing them money to fix it. One would think that it would behoove them to just do it right the first time. Sigh. And now you shall be obligated to have fun and swim the heck out of that pool because you are going to get your money’s worth out of that liner, dang it!

  2. Erin

    <<>> My husband and I have the same kind of luck. If crap is going to happen it will be to us. Hang in there, and document everything so they don’t try to screw you in the end.

  3. Anna Marie

    Would it make you feel better if I told you we just bought a house that needed some “minor repairs to the master bath shower” and as of right now the entire damn thing is ripped out and our bathroom has a giant hole open to the crawl space and everything will need to be retiled and we are moving on Saturday and the shower will be finished sometime…in the next month….

  4. Frank

    E) Because you needed good, easy, not ‘heavy duty stuff’ blog fodder.
    Seriously… you cant make this stuff up… Have you been hunting for the Punk’d cameras? Allen Funt? Gremlins? better not be them… if they get wet……

    Hope you get it all fixed up… ALL of it.

    • js

      I just want to “like” this, about a thousand times!

  5. Kelly

    I feel your pain. In February, the outside line from our sump pump froze and made our basement flood. After a month and a half of having my son’s entire bedroom in our living room, where we spend most of our time, sheet rock was replaced, walls were painted, trim was stained and replaced, and new carpet was installed. Friday night I came home from work and my son informed me that his bedroom was wet again. Turns out that the guy who came to “fix” the frozen pipe in February actually just cut the pipe so that all the water that the sump was pumping outside was basically being dumped about 5 inches away from the house. So all that water was just going back into the foundation. He may as well have attached a hose and put it through a window! The guy who came out on Saturday to look at the mess seems like he’ll take care of us, and without saying the words, basically said that the guy who did this, screwed up. I think he’ll take care of us. We’ll see. We have a lifetime warranty on the sump pump that they installed, which is nice. But I told the guy, “the lifetime warranty is great because I haven’t been charged anything for you guys to come out, but I want you to stop having to come out!” Anyway, I hope things get resolved for both of us quickly.

  6. js

    It doesn’t do any good now, but in the future I would recommend Home Advisor to help you find people who don’t suck. Also, this is terrible and all, but your home repair adventures are fascinating reading. So thanks!… :-)

  7. Tanis Miller

    Two years ago we had to replace our pool liner due to a small rip. Except the twits who we called to do the liner replacement convinced my cheap husband that they could FIX the liner with a patch and it would be EVER SO MUCH CHEAPER. He was sold. He is so easy.

    So they patched the liner, my husband went off to work and I called a water truck to fill our pool. (Side note, I live in the middle of no where and our well sanded in. We use a cistern and have to call a truck every month to haul our potable water. Water truck deliverers are my friends.)

    My water deliver filled the pool. You don’t want to know how many giant trucks filled with water it took to fill that pool. Okay. FOUR. The pool was TWO INCHES from being completely filled when all of a sudden this horrible sound happened and POOF! WATER EVERYWHERE. The patch didn’t hold.

    Turns out, after paying for the initial repair, four trucks of water, a new replacement liner and four MORE trucks of water, we had ourselves a million dollar pool. I’m STILL bitter about it.

  8. bonuela

    as far as i can tell, it is all your fault. :-) when i moved in almost 10 years ago, the only work that needed to be done was repair a patch of peeling popcorn ceiling. it’s still there. every time i notice it and think that i really should call someone, i picture my mother’s home repair fiascoes and decide that it gives my place character.

  9. Chuck

    Hmmm. I am definitely not planning on ever getting a pool, now. Good luck with yours.

    • Elizabeth

      Oh dear. I am sorry. But you do relay it well!

  10. RL Julia

    Wow, and I thought dealing with my health insurance/wellness company/Rx Drug plan was frustrating! Try to refrain from drowning one of the pool guys the next time they show up. They sound lower on the intellectual totem pole than furnace guys (who in my experience all have had a little too much carbon monoxide exposure) – or roofers.

    • Rita

      Wow Julia….anybody else you want to offend?

  11. Nancy R

    I say pool guys should get a giant water hauling something and pump the pool water IN THERE until it can be returned to the pool.

    • A Different Kind of Zoe

      Yes. That.

  12. Sheryl

    Didn’t I see this movie with Tom Hanks and Shelly Long? Also, I liked it better when your kids didn’t read your blog. I wish I knew what was going on behind the scenes over there. But I understand. It’s like Dooce and the divorce, somethings just aren’t blogable.

  13. Aimee

    Double yew. Tee. Eff? Seriously??? Oh Em Gee. I have been reduced to phonetically spelling out the names of letters.

    Eff minus.

  14. RuthWells

    I repeat my long-ago assertion that you must have kicked a lot of puppies in a past life, because DAMN GIRL.

    • Brigitte

      THAT must be it!!

  15. Brigid

    We have a hottub that we just payed a lot of money to fix, except it wasn’t fixed. This week they are going to deliver the new cover (was going to be $100 delivery charge, except there was no way my husband was going to pay that so we were going to pick it up) at no charge and see if they can actually make the hot tub, ya know, hot. I have a sinking feeling we are going to have a brand new cover for a tiny outdoor cold pool.

    And the dog chewed a hole in the wallpaper in the hallway so my husband decided to start taking it all down before he realized that the wallpaper continues down the stairs, into the foyer and around another hallway. So he pulled down 1/3 of the paper and walked away.

    I hope your pool is a pool soon, your dog smells fresh as a daisy, and you catch a break on the homefront.

  16. Arnebya

    Gonna choose C for $500, Alex! It’s not you and it ain’t that damn hard. I like to blame big money decision debacles on Mercury being in retrograde. It’s nice to always have an unwitting scapegoat. Now, if Mercury retrograde is not currently occuring, DO NOT TELL ME.

  17. Kate

    I first started reading your blog during the fence debacle … Remember that one?! I feel like I’m “home”!

    Good luck, Mir! My house will fall down around my ears! Because of you, I’ll NEVER fix anything!


  18. Tracy B

    My goodness!!!! It’s a freaking pool liner…thank goodness they aren’t doing your plumbing on the inside. (glass half full)

  19. Stimey

    Have you ever considered just burning the whole house down and starting fresh?

  20. Cathy

    Oh this is bringing back nightmares from 10 years ago when we too replaced our pool’s vinyl liner. If it makes you feel any better, it is possible that all vinyl liner installs suck this bad and it isn’t just yours.

  21. ~annie

    This is just how things are these days. It took an entire year and consultations with 5 dentists to finally ease the pain of my apparently (nobody ever actually SAW it) cracked tooth. Mind you, I said “ease” not eliminate. Also, in the last few months, I’ve had to take 2 different cars to 3 different mechanics and at each one it took them at LEAST 3 tries to get it even just halfway right. My car’s carpet is still oozing anti-freeze and poor Critter’s just-bought car was in the shop the first 10 days she owned it. I hope that makes you feel a little better.

  22. Mary K. in Rockport

    There used to be an old Al Capp (?Andy Capp) cartoon strip that had a character who went around with a little personal storm cloud over his head raining just on him. His name was Joe Fztlblik or something like that. I used to think that character was ME, but now I can see that it’s YOU.

  23. jwg

    I keep telling you-exorcism. Do you suppose all the people who install all things go to the same school or do they start out as incompetent?

  24. Kana

    It is so strange, like I’m hearing this for the second time! I got a call just last night…My mother thought she could have a refrigerator with an ice and water dispenser, and a nice pillow-top kitchen floor to ease her joint pain. This was madness, obviously, and fate interceded last week to rectify the error.

    It waited vey politely for her to be in the earliest all-staff meeting ever, and also made sure that she was for no apparent reason sitting next to the the director when her downstairs tenants called to say the sky was falling, and making their ceiling drip and sag.

    Downstairs tenant is a lawyer. “Ahh, my allergies,” he says pointedly. “Cough, cough.” Mom is a natural sciences major, and furious. It’s been less than 24 hours, you horrible fraud – give the mold TIME, it will come. Then continue obviously building your case for lawsuit.

    So, must put up tenants in hotel while floor/ceiling is stripped and dried out. Cue roaring giant fans, which are the giant vacuum of this story. Cats are terrified.

    A motley host of plumbers who don’t turn the water off, handymen who just can’t quite seem to be bothered to show up, a carpenter who won’t reinstall pillowtop flooring.

    Alarums, folde rol, and fa la la; majority of major meeting missed, director unimpressed, hotel bills, repair bills, emergency callout fees, no actual fixing, giant fans, kitties pissing themselves, and a giant swollen goiter of wet pillowtop. There is a tearful middle-aged woman in Hawaii who officially feels your pain.

    • Kana

      She was also being “distracted” from an interpersonal issue, from earlier in the week, that shall remain undisclosed…the similarities, they continue!

      I feel like I ought to start a support group for you two! “Stop Kicking Us While We’re Down” is the working title/mission statement.

    • Mir

      Holy CRAP. You win! Er, your mother wins! Er, WE ALL LOSE. Sheesh. I’d like that support group….

  25. Heather

    Cheese and rice! Poor Mir :( I hope that EVERYTHING improves!

  26. Lara T

    :( Feel free to borrow our family tag line “We don’t do easy” ;) I hope they fix it on the next try!!

  27. kapgaf

    You do realize that you are all going to have to swim at least once a day so that you don’t resent all this? Just zigzag around the drowned bodies…..

  28. Jenne

    Oh Mir! It’s not funny, but I can’t help but laugh. Not at you – not at all!!

    Plus what Nancy, and RuthWells, and Kate said. ((( <3 )))

  29. Sharon

    I was wincing by the end of this and sending up pleas to the swimming pool powers-that-be on your behalf. When I hear about/deal with people who do specialized work I always wonder what the pay-off is for not doing the job right the first time. I am now going to paint my utility room because as much as I’ve dreaded the job it’s nothing compared to pool repair!

  30. Peggy Fry

    It’s because it is a pool…. there is a special kind of hell reserved for Dealing With Pool stuff. Been there, done that. No matter what, it is always complete hell to deal with pool stuff because they always say “do this and then do this, and then do that and it’s peachy!” and it NEVER is. It doesn’t get fixed until you freak out and spend 3 times the amount of money you thought you ever would. And once the damned thing is open then there is algae and sanitizer and Ph and …. and….

    But on a hot afternoon after you have mowed the lawn it feels SO GOOD to jump in the pool.

    I miss mine. sorta. Don’t miss the 2xs a year I freaked out though….

  31. Cheryl

    It’s a pool. My mom had a gun-nite pool, we have a vinyl in-ground pool. Pools are the sucker-outers of souls, honestly. It’s not you. It’s not the pool guys. Pools are just complicated gigantic pains in the ass unless you are currently swimming in one. We’ve been living in our house for nearly 13 years, and our pool has been problem-free MAYBE 5 of those years. My mother’s pool hasn’t been cooperative since I was 14 years old. They are major douche-canoes. *HUGS*

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