Thursday, March 06, 2008

What I've learned about men.

First I will start out with a question. Do you think I can discriminate based on the stability of a contractors marriage? Because honestly - I want to ask each new contractor I hire this question. And if they say anything that makes me think "rocky" - they are out.

For example "how long do you think this will take? Are you going to camp out at my house for weeks? How stable is the relationship with your wife?"

This is the thing. Two of my contractors had ginormous break ups in the middle of my project. And it really affected the project hugely. This are two of my most solid workers. Things had been going smoothly until one caught his wife cheating, and the other wife told him she was going to slit his throat. I know.. I told you these guys personal lives were a wreck.

At any rate. This created so much extra static for me. For one thing - since I'm a woman, I immediately turn into the enemy. For another, you could tell these guys were going to take the wives back. Which they did. But it probably created more than a solid month of friction between the contractors and I.

It wasn't that they were crying about their relationships. Men don't do that. It was like they'd been turned into flat tires. Knocked off their axes. Walking pieces of shrapnel.

Which I admit sort of confuses me. As a general rule I often think most men don't want to be married. Its all the subtle things men say. Take this fine quote from alpha contractor as an example. "My first wife was a nag - this one just holds everything in until she goes nuclear".

Me - well which would you rather have? The nag or this wife?

Him - the nag I think.

To me... this doesn't sound like a man who wants to be married at all. A lot of men make similar comments. So, I just generally feel like most men feel roped into marriage.

After watching these guys go through these breakups. I realised that men really do want to be married. All that stuff they say is just bullshit. Marriage provides some sense of grounding and stability. And - men really need that. They almost can't cope without it. They become positively defective without that force in their lives. Which is a surprise to me. I always thought most men would be happier is they could just roam from female to female.

Not the case apparently. Because once these guys got back together with their wives - it was like their purpose had been restored.

Anyway - that's all I got. I was scraping a floor for a lot of the day - so I'm tired. Hopefully you can find some coherent meaning in the above.


  1. I don't think you can discriminate based on marriage stability, because whatever information you get in the qualifying stage is likely to be unreliable at best.

    (And, from the contractor's standpoint, how does he or she figure out how big a pain you are going to be?)

    Maybe you can capitalize on the desire for stability by being neutrally sympathetic ("It really sounds like you're going through a tough time") while focusing on what's relevant to you ("I know there's a lot going on for you right now. Are we going to be able to get the tile laid on schedule, do you think?").

    Your job can may well be an island of predictability for them. Sure, job-related problems crop up, but the problems are within the scope of their skills, and grappling with the problems gives the contractor a manageable situation to deal with.

  2. Those are all very valid points. And, I'm constantly trying to refine my guy code.

    Because ultimately - I just want them to get things done with as little friction as possible.

    Sadly - just when I think I've got it down, my techniques stop working. My last one was "can we focus on getting x done".

    I thought it was as direct as possible. For a couple of days I thought I was the queen. When I said those magic words - my guys immediately focused and went right to getting x done. My magical powers wore off after a couple of days - and I was left to find a new more direct strategy.

    "(And, from the contractor's standpoint, how does he or she figure out how big a pain you are going to be?)"

    Maybe they could start a blog!

    Seriously though - I figure contractors think all customers are a pain in the ass. Don't they figure that into the price of the job? Female customer = mark up 10%? Just because she's gonna be a pain in the ass.

    I'm always sure they think I'm a pain in the ass. But, they move work from other customers to work for me - so I can't be that bad.