I Never Thought I’d Need a Private Investigator

Hmm. Yes. How to begin? You all know that we’ve been steadily working on renovating the space over our garage. Bit by bit over the years, we’ve been tackling it and have been getting ever closer to being finished. At first we did it mostly on our own, and then we found a contractor who had been really helpful for several years. Last year, his team insulated the area, did the electrical work, and ran plumbing up there. At the end of the year, he found a good deal on wood to put up on the walls, and so Denisa and I signed another contract with him to get that done as well. We paid around $3500 (the cost of the lumber.) It was supposed to be delivered around December 28th.

It never was.

He basically disappeared from the face of the earth for two weeks. We called, concerned, and discovered he’d injured his back falling from a roof. He sent that message to us via text. We never actually spoke to him. “Take your time,” we texted him. “Get better, and then we can finish.” We’d worked with him for years, after all. What was there to worry about?

But he didn’t call. And didn’t call. And so we tried to check in again.

The phone was disconnected.

I’ll save you the whole story, as it doesn’t get much better from there. Fast forward a few months, and I’m no longer convinced he was ever injured in the first place. He hasn’t phoned us once, and the last text we got from him (back on Oscars night in February) explained he was going through a messy divorce and had his bank account frozen.

I try to be a patient, understanding person. I try to give the benefit of the doubt. But he still never called. And we still were out $3500. A significant chunk of change for a librarian and a baker.

He’s switched numbers multiple times. He’s been completely ignoring us.

So I asked a friend for a recommendation of a good PI. The idea now is to take him to small claims court and get our money back that way. But we didn’t have an address for him, and we didn’t have a reliable way of finding him.

The PI took pity on us and found both for free. Of course, it didn’t turn out to be too complicated, seeing as how the guy had been arrested back in August, convicted soon after, and is currently on parole.

Yeah.

There might be more to his side of the story, but I no longer really care to hear it. Denisa went and got the paperwork yesterday, and we’ll be having him served by the Skowhegan sheriff’s department. $110 investment total as the first step to getting our money back. I really hope he takes it as a wake up call and contacts us to see if we can’t settle outside of court. I just want this over and done with. It’s been taking forever, and is a constant worry.

So that’s been one of the stressors in my life since January. And there’s no real end in sight. Cross your fingers that he actually shows up and we get the money. But I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Moral of the story? Always have a reliable address for your contractor in addition to a phone number. And always insist they follow the contract right away, I guess. I thought we’d been careful. I thought we could trust him.

Guess I thought wrong.

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