Walnut Creek – Job #352 – The Art of Measuring Time (Part 1)

Walnut Creek
Our client, Debbie, watches our contractor, Jose, talk in the hallway.

“It’s 95 degrees out here,” I tell Mika as she sits in the front seat of her red Prius, going through her text messages. “Like, right here, I mean. Otherwise, you get downhill, it’s, like…80-something.” I look off on the distance. “Either way, it’s hot. But that’s Walnut Creek.”

“Yeah,” she says, not looking up. We’re waiting for our contractor, Jose, to arrive and it’s almost time to meet Debbie, our new client. She’s typing on her phone and I’m talking about the weather.

This is what we do.

Every now and then, I keep hearing the sound of trickling water, only to realize that it’s the sound of leaves from a nearby tree. They click together in such a way, they sound like water. This is probably the third, maybe fourth time, I’ve had to remind myself that the leaves sound like water. My brain can’t process it. We’re so deep into the hills of Walnut Creek that there isn’t any real noise pollution from the outside world. Maybe that’s why things seem different. It’s perfectly serene, but also unnerving in a Rod Serling-esque “This Is A Typical American Suburb” way. Despite it all, I continue to babble.

“That’s the Tri-Valley…Pleasanton, San Ramon…Livermore is hell this time of year.” I look at Mika and she’s still scrolling away. I ask her what she’s looking at.

“I went, last night, to this place, this Mexican place,” she says. “They had that atmosphere, and that really good, authentic food…they even made fun drinks.” She stops and taps her screen, then jumps out of her car as if she was propelled, and shows me her phone. “They were blue…see? Blue drinks…” I look and I nod. “See? With the little umbrellas? That type of blue drink.”

“Blue…that’s worse than brown liquor,” I say, moving slightly to get into the shade brought on by the shadow of a tree adjacent to us. Mika chuckles lightly. I take out my phone and press the power button to check the time. “It’s almost nine. Jose’s gotta be coming up the road, right?”

It’s at this point when we hear the unmistakable sound of a motorcycle: Jose has indeed arrived.

It’s time to get in character.

Walnut Creek
Mika (left) examines various new bathroom hardware with Debbie (right).

Debbie is happy to see us. Even under her mask, you can tell she’s grinning as she greets us warmly and invites us in. Mika introduces her to me and Jose — but Debbie flip flops it and asks if I’m Jose.

“No, I’m Matt,” I reply. “But I’m sure Jose doesn’t mind if we switch for the day.”

This draws a laugh. Mika asks Debbie if she had some sort of party as we immediately head upstairs to discuss the bathroom.

“A party?” Debbie’s confused here.

“Looks like you have streamers hanging from your trees…”

“Oh! No…” Debbie’s facepalms and shakes her head. “We have these kids…they came over here at night and tossed toilet paper into the tree and it’s a pain to remove, let me tell ya’…you get those kids, even in Walnut Creek.”

Once we’re in the bathroom, it’s business as usual. Mika’s doing her usual rapid-fire questionnaire while Jose begins to take measurements. After some time, he asks for permission to use a pen on the walls, floors, and counters to mark items Debbie no longer wants, such as old tile, faucets, mirrors, and the like. As Jose goes about his business, and Mika continues to look at drawings and models of the bathroom, Debbie looks over at me.

Walnut Creek
Debbie (left) looks on as Jose (center) tests the light switches in the hallway.

“Are both of you contractors?” Debbie asks me. “Are you both going to be doing the work?”

Mika fields this verbal ground ball and tells her “Matt’s the guy who shows up and takes photos and makes our blog look pretty.”

“Ah…got it,” says Debbie with a thumbs up.

“He might ask you some interesting questions while he’s taking a million photos.” Mika says.

“That’s me,” I say. “I’m the marketing guy. Gotta sell us.”

It’s determined that a wall is being knocked down between the shower and bathroom toilet so that Debbie can have a bigger shower. Jose is marking things up and attempting to figure out the measurements. Debbie is game for anything as long as construction dust and contaminants don’t travel to the bedroom. The toilet area will be turned into a closet and recessed lighting will be added.

Jose’s walking around, checking the 3D model in front of him and examining the surrounding walls.

“I’m thinking…” Jose points toward the bedroom. “…if we hang tarp over there off that wall, you’re not gonna get any dust or anything going in there. I think that would be the best course of action.”

This thrills Mika who immediately calls him a “problem solver.”

Walnut Creek

We’re back downstairs and Mika is going through a pile of boxes stacked in the living room containing the various bathroom parts and hardware Debbie has ordered. As I do this, I walk around the house to get a few more photos — when I notice a beautiful jukebox sitting behind closed glass doors in the family room. Not wanting to disturb the area, I photographed it.

This isn’t some sort of cheap machine either. This particular model is an actual Rock-ola, a company which has been making jukeboxes since 1927.

That’s almost a full century if you’re doing the math.

I have a deep love of old, intricate novelty items. While pinball is my ultimate passion, the jukebox is just as beautiful. At once, it’s a product of an era gone by and a welcome sight. No matter where you find one, it just belongs.

Following the walkthrough with Blues Brothers, I gush about this to Debbie, who smiles and says, “If you can find someone to fix it, I’d be very happy.”

“They’re works of art,” I say. “I love the way they look in a room. I love the way they glow…they’re timeless.”

“Everyone measures time differently,” Debbie says to me as we walk outside her beautiful home. It’s warm, that usual Walnut Creek summer weather, and I can hear those trickling leaves again. Debbie continues, “People always recall the things which remind them of how old they used to be: current events, what they were doing for a living…I measure it by the age of my kids.” She scratches her head quickly and says, “If I were to go by that, I’d say we’ve now lived in Walnut Creek, this house, for about 20 years.”

“Your home looks incredible,” I say.

Debbie thanks me and tells me her saga:

“I think it’s just the bathroom that needs work right now. It was during the pandemic, I kept looking at it and thought, ‘I need to do something here.’ You know when you’re indoors and cooped up and you start getting that itch to do something different? That’s what led to the decision to do this project. I was only gonna do the floor and cabinets. But, then it was the tub and a bunch of other things that bugged me. That’s when we found Blues Brothers Construction. We went with you guys because, when we did our kitchen, the people we hired really didn’t do much except replace certain items. But, I thought, with the bathroom, I want a full makeover, I want to get what I want.”

Debbie has nothing but great things to say about our staff:

“I spoke with Renee who was so nice and so engaging and welcoming. I thought, ‘wow’! I went on your website and saw your sample stuff and I thought, maybe being in Walnut Creek, you guys wouldn’t work with us, but one thing led to another, and I got with Mika…she and I had the same thing about what we wanted to do. Mika had some great ideas. From Renee to Mika, we’ve had nothing but great vibes with your company. Everyone in your company is just awesome. And it’s catchy! I told one of my neighbors what I was going to do and she wanted to see my plans and possibly do something with her bathroom, so you could have another client soon!”

Only time will tell.

This is Part 1 of 2. We will re-visit Job #352 in the future, which will include before-and-after shots as well as a testimonial from Debbie. Stay tuned!

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