Nothing truly takes five minutes. This particularly applies to the advice given out to others “C’mon, it will JUST take you five minutes”. Such lines precede life’s natural comedy. They are words pronounced by those who do not know and are about to find out.
Renovations particularly fall under this misapprehension. It makes me wonder how renovators can quote any job. I have also heard it said, that you can go faster building something new, than by cobbling onto something existing and I have found this particularly to be true.
Last place I worked the lady in charge who had no experience in the business, created a system that standardized timeframes for jobs to be done. In her eyes, the work was seen as a “Business Unit” or BU for short. That acronym made its way into a lot of fancy graphs and charts that looked impressive at meetings. The lady said that all packs are equal whether you are doing a dog food bag or the back of a shampoo label. Those DOING the work could have easily verified that this was NOT the case, but she did not ask us, she TOLD us. And then some people mysteriously disappeared, which puts sudden teeth into any management initiative.
The lady would appear at our desks and poll us on our weekend. She wanted to look like she cared. She did not however really care about the workflow, which was going to hell in a handcart under her terrible management. She was creating a numbers game that propped up her bonus and we were just the minions who were supposed to make it happen... realistic or not. The lady later got fired after crippling the business and reducing it to a shambles. If HER boss had bothered to ask, we could have told him as well. Those who tell should follow the first rule of management. If you don’t know, ASK. And you will find that not much of life shoehorns into that tiny receptacle called “It will JUST take you five minutes”.
My wife, also particularly guilty here I am afraid. In her mind all things should be entered into with sanguine calm, and yes, it will only take you five minutes. Except… that it never does. Something unforeseen always comes up. There is also the matter of tools. Finding and arranging your tools will take more than the proverbial five minutes, and that is just a start.
One fairly recent task was to put up a chandelier my wife bought from some lady on Facebook Marketplace. The chandelier was nice, but old. It was original to the lady’s house and she was putting in some more contemporary lighting.
Of course, behind all this is the fact that products and standards change over time. In Canada we have US parts which are Imperial, and other things which are metric. They don’t match. I suspect this was the case with the chandelier because the plate which bridges the electrical box in the ceiling cavity was too long for the box. The holes which are supposed to be standard, and to match up to what you screw the plate onto, also did not match. The holes were in different places. All in all there was a LOT of fussing, fudging, and back and forth.
Back and forth can be particularly painful when you are up and down a ladder screwing and unscrewing things which don’t seem to fit. There is a reason why electricians get repetitive injuries from all that screwing around.
In my case, it was fortunate that I peruse flea markets and garage sales. I have a small set of taps (imperial) from such a garage sale, that was sitting in the back of a drawer. I had to put the taps to use when I had to drill NEW holes in the plate to match with what was in the ceiling, and then to thread the holes with the proper configuration that would match the screws.
It took all in all over half a day. There is a reason people call in tradesmen, it is easier on your blood pressure and it might even make your marriage last longer.
Perhaps going forward is a good time to invoke my man, Murphy. He’s the king of realists. He made a few rules of his own after hearing “It will just take you five minutes” more than once in his life. We owe him props for injecting some reality back into the situation. Murphy could have run my old workplace better than the boss who was supposedly an industry expert.
Here are some of his observations, better known as Murphy’s Law(s)
1) If anything can go wrong, it will
2) Nothing is ever as simple as it seems
3) Everything takes longer than you expect
4) If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something
5) Nature always sides with the hidden flaw
It’s what you DON’T know that will kill you, and hindsight is foresight. If you don’t believe me, ask Murphy.