MacPhail – week 08

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The economics of when to pay someone else to do something instead of doing it yourself, even if you are able to, is a general subject that has always interested me. Last week’s experience is a classic example of when paying someone else, in the balance of time and money, was definitely the right option.

Having just moved home, we had spent a good number of days building flat-pack furniture from Ikea.  Once into the swing of things, this actually became a fairly satisfying and enjoyable pursuit, so a few days into the task we cancelled the Ikea assembler booked to come and put a few chests of drawers together.

In a craze of late-night screwing and banging, I had done them myself and so with satisfaction we got in touch with Ikea to convey, smugly, that their man was no longer required and we duly were refunded our fee.

Beds, library shelves, tables, drawers, desks and chairs were going up like mushrooms and although it was taking some time, we had planned to do all the remaining work ourselves.

However, a breakdown in communications between Ikea and their flat-packer had occurred and the message didn’t get through, so when he phoned to check that we would be in, I had to boastfully inform him that his work had been done and that he could stand down. Because he sounded so nice and obliging I felt bad that I had done him out of a few hours’ work, and suggested he come over anyway and secure some shelves to the wall and we would sort payment out directly with himself.

He was not what I was expecting. In my ignorance, I had thought that as his work involved carrying out jobs aimed specifically at the level that the general public can do, he would have a skill level to match.  In fact, he was on a par with some of the very best tradesmen I have seen at work.

He had the six sets of shelves, levelled, (on an unlevel floor) secured to each other, secured to the wall, with lights wired in and everything looking perfect within about 20 minutes. It would probably have taken me about a day of sweating and swearing to finish it and with nowhere nearly as neat a result.   I immediately secured his services and agreed a price for him to do everything else in the house – the rest of the furniture, the mirrors, storage shelving, towel rails, kitchen cabinets, hanging of pictures and I even thought about asking him to check out a few fillings in my teeth as he was such a wizard with the drill!

He was like a Tasmanian Devil while assembling the kits.  It was as if in a flurry of unpackaging, everything was thrown up in the air and when it landed, there was a perfectly put together piece of furniture!

We have just started recording a new album, and by paying this experienced professional a relatively small amount, I was able to free up many hours for learning the tunes and finishing writing the songs, which because of the house move I was well behind on!

So, if you enjoy the new Skipinnish album when it comes out, then this furniture guru deserves some of the credit.