The Tale of Two Electricians
One of the earliest lessons I learned about building in Ireland was to rely on referrals. When I first bought my cottage in Ireland, I wanted to add electrical outlets to every room… a cord running from the single lightbulb hanging from ceiling just wasn’t going to cut it.
I found an electrician somewhat randomly. He laughed when I told him my request, “Ah, that’s right, you Americans like having a lot of outlets.” This was twenty-five years ago when electronics and indirect lighting were not mainstays in an Irish home.
As the electrician did his work, I stayed out of his way… even going down to my cousins for a couple of hours. Oddly, every time I returned, he was taking a break for tea in his van. After a few days, the job was done, and I doled out the cash.
Five years later, I needed more electrical work done. My cousin Mehal was quick to recommend a local man named Martin who had worked in the States for a number of years.
When Martin arrived, he pointed to my outlets and, clearly appealing to my “American” tastes, asked, “Did ye want the lines buried?” He was referring to the plastic strips running along the walls and ceiling between the outlets and the light fixtures. These strips protected the wires inside.
“The last electrician told me I couldn’t bury lines in these walls.”
“Jezuz, Liam, ye sure can. I’d say he didn’t want to go through the trouble.”
The job required dredging a trench into the dash plaster that covered the old walls… a dusty job indeed. Then running the wires inside the furrow and burying them with cement.
The job took Martin a day and half (half the time of the first electrician), and the bill he presented me with was nearly half the price as well.
At that moment, I realized why Mehal was so quick to recommend Martin. I asked Mehal why he didn’t tell me I was being “robbed” by the other guy. “Now, it wouldn’t be my place to interfere with a man’s business,” was his response.
“For godsake, Mehal, next time interfere! Everyone already thinks I’m the “crazy American,” I don’t want them to think I’m a fool too.”
It’s no surprise Martin’s company has grown into a very large business in the area.