September 7, 2010

# Who you gonna call?

September 7, 2010

I ain’t afraid of no bathtub. Or rather I wasn’t afraid of no bathtub. Seventy two hours and twelve hundred dollars ago, I wasn’t afraid of the bathtub, toilet or sink. Now I’m not so sure. What am I talking about? Perhaps I better start at the beginning.

A few weeks ago, I had a general contractor come out to my house. One of my bathrooms was in pretty bad shape and I wanted to give it a face lift. I figured it was a small job. New sink, new toilet, new tub. Splash some paint on the walls. Throw down some tiles. Viola!

The contractor, let’s call him Al, came highly recommended from a buddy of mine who recently had some work done. Al spent about 20 minutes looking at my bathroom, (which I thought was about 10 minutes too long considering we’re talking about a 6 foot by 8 foot room), and then asked if he could sit down at my kitchen table. He pulled out a number two pencil, yellow pad, and a calculator, then began scribbling.

When he was finished he passed the tablet my way, and somewhere near the bottom of the page circled a couple times for emphasis was: 6K. I don’t come from a long line of mathematical wizards, (see http://blog.softlayer.com/2008/everybody-knows-sevens-and-nines-dont-figure/), but if six times eight equals forty-eight that comes out to something like \$125 per square foot.

“Thanks for your time,” I said, handed Al back his notebook, and showed him to the door.

The following weekend, my son and I went up to Lowe’s. We needed some light bulbs. Well it just so happens that within rock throwing distance of the light bulbs were the bathtubs. And don’t you know once we walked in that direction, we were within eyeshot of the sinks, toilets, vanities, you get the idea.

Quickly, (okay moderately), I began adding up the raw materials in my head. Tub, sink, toilet, light fixtures, I could easily get everything I needed for about a grand. I was inspired. I’m reasonably bright, semi-competent with a hammer, and come to think of it, among other things my grandfather was a plumber for a number of years. Surely that’s the sort of thing handed down generation to generation through DNA—right?

At some point I must have gotten “that look” in my eyes because my son asked which tub we were getting, and could we hurry up please so he didn’t miss “Minute to Win It”.

As with any project, I think it’s best to break a job down into manageable chunks, and as I saw it, there were five obvious tasks at hand: the tub, the toilet, the sink, the walls, and the floor. I started with the tub, because quite frankly the idea of knocking ceramic tiles off the shower wall with a hammer sounded like a blast.

It was fun too. So much so that my son turned off the TV in the living room, opting to get a hammer of his own and help. The dog even ventured as far as the threshold to see what all the commotion was and for about twenty minutes tiles were raining down, and hammers were thwacking, and I was thinking to myself: six thousand dollars my butt—I should charge for the pleasure of demolishing my wall. That’s when I noticed an unpleasant odor.

I looked at my son, who was looking at me, and then we both turned and looked at the dog who promptly let out a whimper and ran off in search of breathable air. The odor quickly elevated itself to the title of stench and the adjective unpleasant was upgraded to down-right-nasty. At the risk of permanent blindness I poked my head into the hole where the drywall had been.

My eyes were watering and it was too dark to see. Knowing a lighter in this situation was not the way to go I sent my son for a flashlight. Even with the flashlight I could find nothing to explain the foul odor and when stuffing the holes with rags and shutting off the room failed to alleviate the level red pollution watch that rapidly spread throughout the house, my son, the dog, and myself were forced to evacuate and check into a hotel.

It took the plumber six hours at weekend rates to cap off the leak, and two more days to actually repair the problem. Including the night at the hotel, my experiment in bathroom remodeling has tallied up to just about twelve hundred dollars. And really, considering my original task break down, I’ve only completed 1/5th of the job. As I already mentioned, I don’t come from a long line of mathematical wizards, (if you missed it the first time see http://blog.softlayer.com/2008/everybody-knows-sevens-and-nines-dont-figure/), but twelve hundred times five is 6K.

I guess what I’ve learned is that sometimes you have to call in the pros and just maybe extend a little trust—especially if that pro comes highly recommended. I’m a wiz when it comes to programming low-level utilities, system software, and drivers. That’s why SoftLayer hired me. But I’m no plumber.

My point is each of us has our own area of expertise. We can’t all be everything, and the same is true when it comes to a business. Whatever your business is, you are undoubtedly good at it. But take it from me you can’t be an expert at everything.

SoftLayer comes highly recommended, do a simple Google search and you’ll find customer after customer raving about our support, our reliable network, our flexible API. And we know Information Technologies inside and out. We have hardware engineers, software engineers, support engineers, and some of the most knowledgeable sales folks I’ve ever met anywhere.

Sometimes it just makes more sense to concentrate on your core competencies. The next time you require dedicated computing resources or cloud services, pick up the phone and give SoftLayer a call. You’ll be glad you did. Oh, and the next time you need a plumber, well, I have a guy for that too I can recommend these days.

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