Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Good and Bad of Having a {Self Employed } Contractor for a Husband

Here's my man after a hard day at work fixing some body's electrical problem or installing a hot water tank.  Note the characteristic hat, pocket with notepad and pen, end-of-the-day smile and beer.

Bill has been doing HVAC and electric for about 15 years and 8 of those years he has owned his own business.  This means that throughout our entire marriage, I've been what's know as a Contractor Widow.   I thought I'd jot down a bit of the good and bad about being married to a self employed man.

Good #1...Bill has the rare privilege of going INTO people's houses.  I'm telling you, he has seen it all.  We live in a rural community.  Did you know that people mainly live in the country to be left alone?  Why does a person want to be left alone?  Well because most of the time he or she has a very unique way of living and doesn't fit the mold of town life.  Bill comes home with a story almost every night and some of them are wicked funny!  Many of his stories end up the topic of conversation at the dinner table with friends of family.  "Honey, tell the one about the killer cat." or "Did we tell you guys the one about the horse whisperer and the case of the missing farm equipment?" 

Bill is a fantastic story teller and I DO love getting a glimpse into lives I would never otherwise be invited into.  His customers range from fascinating to sweet to ornery to cunningly frugal.  He takes it all in and appreciates each one.

Bad #1....No Hello hugs from this dude!  My husband spends his days in nasty attics and basements that are freezing in the winter and sweltering in the summer.  We don't touch each other until he has had a shower.  The plus side to this is that he voluntarily launders his own work clothes.

Good #2.... All contractors give each other nick names.   I'll never forget the first Christmas party I went to with Bill when he started up his business.  I was chatting with one of his contractor-friend's wife and she asked me how long Cliff and I had been married.  Apparently, I was the only one in town who didn't call my husband by his nick name, Cliff.  I, as a person who just loves a good alias, embraced Bill's new persona.  It was one of many he has acquired over the years including but not limited to:  Cliffy, Clifford, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Billy-bones, Billup, ED, and Edward. 

Bad #2....Service calls at 2:00am on holidays.  Bill (or should I say Cliff) has been called out to fix furnaces at all times on holidays.  This kind of stinks.  He and his phone are one and I have developed my own special groan for when that blasted thing starts ringing after 9pm or on chilly Sunday mornings when the four of us are cuddling in bed.  This is what you sign up for when you decide to be a HVAC guy/girl and it has gobbled up huge chunks of time reserved for family.  After a few years I learned to accept this but I still fantasize about things I could do to that phone....

Good #3...Bill does love being his own boss.  I have worked for terrible bosses in my has Bill.....but not anymore.  He is totally free to direct, respond, initiate, create, clock in and clock out in his company's best interest.  I'm very grateful for that.

** I'm my own boss too...more on that another time.

Bad #3...When you own your own business, its like having another living breathing person in your house.  The business has been such a huge part of our lives, deciding if and when we can take a vacation, making us prosperous one year and then leaving us high and dry the next, allowing us to help friends and family and sometimes letting us be taken advantage of by them.  Can you picture  Bill and I on the couch with our two kids with the cats in the background?  Now add another rather large person on to the end of the couch.  He's a part of us in almost every way. In my mind, he's not very attractive and sometimes he can be so demanding.  Yet he's smiling at us and is proud of the way we have handled the challenges he's laid before us.  I just hope he's not covered in heating oil because that stuff stains and we do NOT have any money for a new couch!

thanks for reading!

  jenny rosie