Yesterday, we met again with the electricians about getting a line run into the garage , the panel replaced, etc.. They gave us a verbal estimate, rather than written, which bothered Ray and me a bit. The price also seemed high: forty-five hundred dollars, to replace the panel and run a new service from the pole to the house. We last had this done at our last house, which was a simpler installation, for a thousand bucks. WTF, twenty years later, it's four and a half times as much? I'm not buying it.
Today I called a much larger firm in the area. The estimator called me right back about thirty minutes later. I explained what I thought we needed. He asked a lot of questions, answered quite a few of mine, and generally treated me with respect. He pulled our house up on Google Maps. Also, frankly, he discussed things from the standpoint of economics and code compliance. It turns out many of the additional changes proposed by the first electrician are not, in fact required under code. Yes if this were a new build, but it's not, so...
The bottom line from the second firm was two thousand dollars. Which seems about right, given the degree of difficulty involved, the changes in code, inflation, etc. Plus, the first people couldn't expect to get to it until the second or third week of July. Company Number Two said seven to ten business days.
The estimator from CNT built value in the service in ways I could respect. He asked if I knew what brand of panel we have now. It's a Federal Pacific, which has been condemned by UL because of poor performance longterm. Well, it's made it 52 years, guess it doesn't owe us anything. He questioned whether we'd really need a 150 Amp service and panel, or if we could stay with 100 Amp. As he explained it, the more important thing is to get a panel which is bigger in terms of allowing more circuits to be installed in it, rather than handling more amperage. He asked how much amperage the car charger needed; I said less than 20A. He asked if we had central air conditioning - yup - and we weren't experiencing brownouts or circuits overloading often - nope - then he concluded 100A would be enough, but if we were thinking about making the house easier to sell down the line, the additional $150 for 150A would make sense. I like his approach tremendously. Oh, by the way, he printed an estimate as we were speaking and snail-mailed it to me.
I'm very grateful in all of this to Ray's trainer Sally, whose husband is in construction and recommended these people. Also, at least three of my coworkers overheard what I was talking about and gave me huge support and practical advice. Gary from Seafood had his done a few years ago - 12-14 hundred bucks. Dave from Frozen just plain thought it sounded high, given the comparison to the last time we had it done. Mark from Produce said the same thing. I feel lucky to work in a place with so many people who treat me with respect. We all kinda look out for each other. Lynn from General Merchandise said her husband is an electrician, and he would do the job at his Friends and Family rate, where you only pay for materials. I'm not sure I want to go that far, but damn, it's nice to feel cared for, you know?
Speaking of looking out for each other, the manager of our sushi bar came to me late last week, complaining that his tracking reports were not reporting many of his sales. I pulled out my manual - it's called item movement, and in our computers, it's a tricky thing to negotiate. I made sure the UPCs were showing up on the report. Monday when I arrived, one each of the stickers for two styles of sushi packages were hanging from a shelf over my desk. In black Sharpie, he'd written, "NO WORK PLEASE HELP". It should be noted that English is not the first language of any of their employees. I then went through a fairly laborious deduction process, through which I concluded that there was something wrong with the printer they were using to print their labels. The Help Desk in Rochester called it in to a company in Buffalo which handles such things, and an IT technician downloaded the codes for sushi to the scale/printer in the prepared food department, and told a sushi employee to use that printer. I told the store chef what had happened. Tuesday came and went - no service call came through. This morning, I called before 8 AM, and was told HD would call the vendor again. By twelve-thirty, still no show, but a slight improvement had occurred. The sushi employees, despite being uncomfortable around the prepared employees, were finally using that printer to generate their tags (This aspect of the whole experience made me feel like a baby sitter). I then called the HD again, was careful to write down the name of the employee I spoke with, and asked her for something more: this time, I said, please call me back with an ETA. She did call me back, and say someone should be there this afternoon. That was at about one-thirty in the afternoon. I was supposed to leave at three. Meanwhile I told the cafe manager, through whose registers much of the sushi gets cashed, what was going on. I happened also to run into the perishable manager, and told him. He asked me, if the situation remained unresolved, to let him know.
At three o'clock I was on the prepared side of the store, and scanned over the sushi department. Hmmm, a gentleman in a blue chambray shirt, obviously not a Wegmans employee, was standing next to the scale/printer. Halle-fuckin'-lujah. I made an obvious O.O face at him, and one of the sushi employees caught it and smiled at me. I made sure I approached the guy, gave him two big thumbs up and thanked him. Then I returned to the office, called the HD, asked for Sandy, and thanked her. I'm pretty sure no one bothers to do that, usually, judging from the sound of her voice, but it's important to do, because people in IT services hear way too much whining, usually, and far too little thank yous. And thus I roll, folks.