What Gulf Coast Congressman Gene Taylor wanted the Easter Bunny to bring him.
South Mississippi Living 4/07

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tales from the Beach: Finding a Contractor Like California Dreamin’

Finding a Contractor Like California Dreamin’ Listen to this podcast

Contractors for small jobs are difficult to find. Let me rephrase that. Good, reliable, and trustworthy folks for smaller, non-commercial jobs are difficult to find. Ideally, my family wanted someone who was local, with roots and references here in the area, and who was good at their craft.

Plenty of horror stories going around. Avoiding one of your own is definitely the name of the game.

One evening after having visited the local public library that afternoon, I went looking for my memory stick. Couldn’t find it anywhere. Finally, it dawned on me that I probably left it in the computer I was using at the Hancock County Public Library here in Bay St. Louis, Miss. I was so aggravated at myself. I decided to go to the store early in the morning and get a lanyard to attach to it so that I’d have a fighting chance to remember to take it out of the computer. Off I went at 8:00am in the morning.

Mind you, I hadn’t left my mother’s home before 9:00am since I had arrived. Nevertheless, off I went so that I could get my lanyard and arrive at the library when the doors opened at 8:30 that morning.

I had gone about 20 steps from my car when I really friendly voice cried out, “You’re from San Jose!” Huh?! How the heck . . .? I looked around to see a woman about my age with a great big smile on her face. I asked, “How did you know?”

She responded, “Your car.” Oh yeah. I have California license tags, and the rear one is held in with a tag holder that says San Jose Oak Tree Mazda. OK, now that we’ve settled that . . .

Cami grew up in Napa Valley, Califonia, which is just north of San Francisco. San Jose is about an hour south of San Francisco. She and her children moved here from Arizona last July. Her husband, who is a youth minister, had come over from Arizona several times right after Katrina. They decided to move here. Dave had moved some months before the family joined him last July. Off we went talking with each other as if two friends catching up on each other’s lives before we entered a store.

She talked about how much slower everything is here. I laughed with her about that. I spent 5 years in fast-paced Silicon Valley and a year in Washington, DC. The pace here is definitely different.

Cami asked me how my family had made out in Katrina. I told her that everyone is alive and that my mother’s house had water damage, which was a real shocker. My parents had that house built 45 years ago. It was on part of the highest land in the county. We went through Camille and every hurricane over those years. Camille took down a lot of trees—we have almost an acre of land—and had a bit of roof damage, but that was it.

Built three feet off the ground, Katrina pushed water several miles to put five feet of water in the house across the street and about eight inches in the home of my youth. With the two year anniversary just around the corner, we have yet to identify a contractor to take care of the wood floors, the doors, the molding, and the cabinets in the kitchen. As I was speaking, Cami pulled out a business card, handed it to me, and said, “That is my husband’s specialty. He’s a contractor by trade. He does the youth ministry as a volunteer because he likes it.”

Tears came to my eyes as she handed me the card and gave my family a gift those inside of Katrina land appreciate immensely. How fabulous this was. They had bought a house in Waveland. Their oldest child attend the Bay High School, which is literally around the corner from us. She told me to call Dave, her husband after 9am when he would be out of the meeting he was in.

Just after 9am, I called her husband. Dave came over at 1pm to look at the house. At his suggestion, my brother and I followed Dave to where he was currently working to get a look at his craft. He has already given us a quote and will start the work around the end of the month.

Believe me, I hugged this lady in a big way. Such a blessing. I love this story. I love that my California credentials on my sweet red Miata made our family’s dream come true, and that for my family, getting a contractor is no longer something akin to California dreaming.

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