Trapped in the Abyss of Kitchen Renovations

Have you ever gone through a kitchen remodel?  It is stressful, and by stressful, I mean on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being my usual stress-free life and 10 being that of a single mother working in an underground coal mine to provide a subsistence living for her eight children, half of whom are terminally ill and the other half of whom are doomed to follow in her coal mining footsteps with a life of black luncg and alcoholism, my stress level is all the way up to 1.005.

I will say this about my contractors though – these men GIT ER DUN.  They don’t fuck around, these guys.  When I went to select the granite for the countertop, I wasn’t given some little six inch square samples to choose from.  That’s for pussies.  I was taken to what is called, alarmingly, a “slab warehouse”, a terrifying cavernous place filled with giant slabs of granite, some of which were being hoisted on a pulley contraption, travelling overhead to the loading dock.  For someone who has a teeny fear of death by crushing at Costco, this was a bit unnerving.  But at the slab warehouse, the slab chosen is the slab that becomes the countertop. 

So I was aware of the heavy and awkward nature of the countertop, which is why I ducked into my bedroom as the men – two brothers named Ron and Don, as I live and breathe, and some other young, unnamed man – brought it into the house.  I didn’t want to be in the way or startle or distract them at all, so as to avoid some kind of granite crushing accident.  I soon realized my mistake as they seemed to not know I was there at all.  The air turned blue with the cursing and general ill will of the bossy head contractor.  The way he spoke – and I use the word “spoke” rather loosely – to the other guys was kind of the opposite of positive reinforcement, if you know what I mean.

After a certain point I was scared to come out of my room.  One of the men had, evidently, stopped for a smoke, and therefore slowed down the entire process.  Now, I’m not saying I wouldn’t be irritated by a coworker who was smoking when there was work to be done, but I also don’t think I would hold it over him for the rest of his life. 

Or would I?

In any event, there I was, trapped in my bedroom with nary a book nor phone nor notepad to pass the time.  I stared out the window for a while, bored.  Finally all fell silent – was someone dead?  Would there be someone buried in my backyard along with Beeps?  I didn’t know, but I made a break for it.  They were all still there but the strangest thing happened: the minute I came into view they snapped to attention with extreme “lady in the room” manners.  Given that only minutes ago I heard the words “Well, that’s Tony’s fucking problem, isn’t it?  Now hand me a fucking hacksaw.  NOW” with reference to my sink, I felt a little strange about this turnaround.

After some very pleasant small talk and compliments on my choice of granite slab, I went downstairs to my cozy, entertainment rich basement, and the expletives and yelling resumed immediately.  Did they not know I could still hear them?  I don’t know, but it was a small price to pay for their craftmanship, which was excellent.

As a social experiment, when they arrived a few days later to tile the backsplash, I curled up on the big living room chair with my notepad and a book, in full view.  Installing the tile was either way easier, or my presence was magical, as they complimented each other on their fine workmanship.  Don even went outside to have several cigarettes, and not one word was uttered.


  1. I LOVE your social experiment. And your contractors are exceedingly speedy. Yeah for being almost done!

  2. HA! I’d curse like a sailor all day long if I had to work in construction, but am amused that they seem to follow the out of sight out of mind concept to an extreme. I’d gladly take contractors who work quickly and well but curse up a blue streak to quiet, polite contractors who take forever!

  3. As far as I can tell, you have had the fastest kitchen renovation EVER – it’s like magic. Everyone else I know has spent months doing dishes in the bathtub and eating take-out. The last time I had workers in my kitchen (fixing my dishwasher) they were hilarious – like an old married couple hen-pecking each other. It almost made up for the gag-inducing reek of cigarette smoke they carried with them.

  4. My husband plans on doing the kitchen renos…do you think this will work on him?

  5. I don’t even know why I find this hysterically funny but I can not stop laughing right now.

  6. I would be lost in a slab store as well.

    My husband tends to swear when he’s building something.

  7. I appreciate your stress scale — it made me laugh.

    We are going to “remodel” our kitchen. Or more accurately: fix it because it’s a complete tip. Alas I still recall the kitchen remodel my parents did in 1987 and I’m dreading it.

  8. fun times. can’t wait for our own kitchen reno.


  9. I think all home renovation is stressful especially if your the working all the heavy works. If I had enough money I would hire somebody to have less stress in renovations.



  1. […] this is a zero-sum game, since my stress level seems to be affected by this, in what I call “Post Traumatic Swearing Contractor Syndrome“. I should probably mention that my children during these times are either completely […]

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