Subterranean, Subcontractor Blues

Subterranean, Subcontractor Blues

At exactly 3:18pm last Saturday I saw the light. The truth set me free. Hallelujah. Amen. Pass the plate. My revelation? I discovered why some companies choose to outsource some or all of their IT operations.

The reason I know it was exactly 3.18 is because that's when the electricity went off, and the one non-digital clock in the house stood in hushed judgement as my husband and I tried to find an emergency electrician and a marriage counsellor respectively.

Now regarding my epiphany: it's not like I haven't the foggiest idea about outsourcing. I'm certainly not unfamiliar with the whys and wherefores of outsourcing - on both the domestic and businesses fronts. Personally I've been outsourcing many of my non-core activities for years (cleaning, laundry, ironing, well, the stuff that is absolutely not fun no matter how many women's magazines tell you it is). In fact, I'm such a fan of outsourcing that since my children (mostly) moved out, I've outsourced a fair swag of cooking. (Although I'm beginning to think I may have gone too far: the local Thai restaurant called to let us know that they were going on a two-week holiday recently and the local Pizza Hut delivery boy sends us a nice Christmas card every year.)

So I think that pretty much proves I'm a keen outsourcer. Unfortunately, that's not quite the case with my husband. Sure, he's willing to do some selective outsourcing - like building a house or manufacturing a car - but let's just say that when it comes to Bob the Builder-type stuff, he doesn't view outsourcing as an option. The problem is that my husband, wonderful man that he is, is, well, handyman-challenged. By way of example, his mother and I made a pact 20 years ago that neither of us would ever buy him a chainsaw.

All that said, he believes he's Bob the Builder. So in the spirit of my marriage vows (love, honour and humour), I try to gently suggest that he's way too busy to spend time fixing anything around the house, or if he's not paying attention, I circumvent him and get someone in before he notices something needs to be fixed. But I got caught napping - big time - on this one: a Bose Lifestyle system.

One hour, I swear I left him alone for only one hour while I went to the shops. We'd bought the system in the morning and on the way home had agreed, or so I foolishly thought, to ring the professional the store recommended on Monday. But noooooo, my husband decided he could do it himself.

Four hours later (tick, tick tick - the clock ticks closer and closer to that fatal hour 3.18pm), there were holes drilled - in no particular order of importance - floors, walls, ceilings and bookcases, and then drilled again a little further up or a bit further out. There were three trips to the hardware store to get the correct wiring. At least six times I was told that Bose had left something out of the box. All six times we found it. There were plaintive cries from under the house, which escalated to creative curses - then the lights went out.

Okay, the good news is that he didn't electrocute himself. The bad news is that we had our first candlelit dinner in yonks glaring at each other over Thai take-away (they were back from holidays - the pictures were nice). The electrician came on Sunday. The sound pros came on Wednesday. We lied and said a friend had tried to install the system, but I think they knew. Probably happens all the time.

So the lesson learned from this sad tale of in-house expertise? Sometimes you just have to admit that somebody can do it better. Not necessarily cheaper. Not necessarily without pain. But at least it's not your pain - and you get to decide when the lights go out.

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