Sordid Tales From The Front Lines

What Moses saw, a sad little hose, and what’s your story…

I drove up to the jobsite and got a whiff of smoke. Definitely not the neighbor's BBQ. Besides, it was early afternoon on a weekday.

A BIG waft of smoke suddenly came round the side of the house and I kicked into high gear and headed in that direction fast.

For the first time in my life, I got to see what Moses saw – a big freaken burning BUSH – plus a couple of freaked out painters, dancing in front of the fire, madly waving a sad little garden hose that had obviously been borrowed from the neighbours yard – in a real big hurry.

I grabbed a shovel and started putting dirt on the bush faster than a roadrunner on steroids. Ten minutes later, the fire was out. Score: Painters 1. Bush 0. Too bad it wasn’t politics.

Turned out the paint contractor had a hired new guy that had come to the brilliant conclusion that a big bush close to the house was a good place to store his solvent soaked rags. Guess he was wrong. Maybe his mother just dropped him one too many times.

Got me thinking though: what if the bush had been a few feet closer to the house? What if no one had been there when the bush went up? What if the neighbour didn’t have a sad little hose? 

Lots of what ifs… all of which could have made the whole thing WAY WAY more expensive (not to mention embarrassing).

We all know things can go sideways fast in contracting. And in my years this wasn’t my only things-gone-sideways story. I had seen quite a few first hand and knew of way more. Do you have a story? Sure you do. Everyone in contracting does.

Tell us your story. Just take a couple of minutes to write out your story, anywhere from a few lines to a few pages, it’s your call. Grammar and spelling don’t matter – just as long as it can be read.

Then e-mail your “Things-that-went-sideways” story to: or if you’d rather write by hand, fax it to: 1 604-648-8428.

Here’s to good work, good workers, and fewer things going sideways,

Craig Harte (BuildIT's Big Cheese)

PS: If there are some good stories - funny, gruesome, plain old stupid, embarrassing, whatever, we’ll share them - so no real names (but send pics if you’ve got them!). Come-on, it’ll take 2 minutes and we’ll all get to share in a few moments from the “other side” of contracting.