Whenever something needs to be hung or repaired, we hire a handyman. One of the great things about Panama is that labor is cheap. You never think twice about hiring someone. After all, why do it yourself when you can help out someone who wants a little extra work?
We hired a handyman this weekend to install our new flat-screen TV on the living room wall and to hang a hammock on the balcony. In my naive un-handy brain, I thought both chores would take about an hour. When the guy came into my apartment with a drill, a big level, a wall pencil, I knew we'd hired the right guy. He looked briefly at the instruction booklet and quickly started measuring, marking and drilling.
I figured he'd done this a thousand times before, and I quickly lost interest. I poured a glass of wine, relaxed into my plump balcony chair, and immersed myself into a book. After all, he had it under control.
What I hadn't considered was that the average Panamanian laborer doesn't have a 60" flat-screen mounted to his wall. In hindsight, I now realize that this was the very first big flat-screen TV that my handyman had ever installed. Although he was a whiz with measuring and drilling, he lacked real-life TV-hanging experience.
The TV connection cable didn't fit correctly behind the TV, so he had to come up with a solution that involved a trip to the hardware store to buy metal braces that would act as spacers. Kudos for creativity and out-of-the-box problem solving. Then, the TV had be mounted off-center, which screwed up my perfectly positioned paintings. Those holes had to be filled, mortared, sanded, and eventually repainted so the paintings could be moved to accommodate the off-center TV placement.
The first real mishap was that the TV attachment was mounted upside down, which almost resulted in a piece of super-glued art nouveau that would be great as a conversation piece but unusable as a TV if it had continued it's slide down the wall and shattered into 21 million pieces. Ooops. Thankfully, they caught it before it hit the ground. It took almost an hour of grunting and hoisting before the unhandy Brazilian and the handy-but-inexperienced-with-big-TVs Panamanian realized their mistake. (I'm pretty sure I'm the one that pointed out the upside-down issue. Even after a glass of wine, I excel at reading the directions.)
What I thought would be a few holes drilled and some brute force to lift the TV, turned into a six-hour ordeal that entailed two separate trips to the hardware store. Thank goodness for cheap labor. The handyman charged $40. We gave him $50 and then drove him home. Everyone was happy, and we were able to see our new big-screen TV from two rooms away. As you can see from the photo, even my dog was entertained.
The hammock installation is a blog for another day, so stay tuned.