The client had never had her roof replaced before, so when the salesman arrived there were questions. He answered them all. He explained what would be done. He talked about the company's reputation, its licensing, its insurances. The crew would be in and out in a day. He handed her a list of local homes the company had worked on, along with addresses and phone numbers. She signed.

A few weeks later, the crew arrived one morning at around 8 a.m. There were three guys and a foreman. The three spoke only Spanish but the foreman, who was Korean, spoke some English. He rang the bell. He said: “Good morning, Mom.”

The next thing she knew it was raining broken shingles. The crew had laid out tarps, but the torn-off shingles crumbled before they hit the ground. Shingles descended on the hydrangeas and azaleas. Shingles hit the wrought iron railing she'd had installed and painted a few months earlier.

At 11 the bell rang.

“Mom ….” A crewmember needed to use the bathroom.

An hour later the foreman was back.

“Mom, can you order pizza for crew?” She saw a cell phone clipped to his belt. “You've got a phone,” she said. “Why don't you order it?”

She ended up ordering two large pizzas with everything.

All afternoon the bell rang. The foreman wanted to know if she could supply paper plates and napkins for the pizza. There were more calls of nature. At 3 p.m. the foreman rang again.

“Mom, do you have wheelbarrow?”

By now, she had figured out that “Mom” meant “M'am.” What truly irritated her was that the salesman had given no warning. What kind of reasonably professional operation would fail to bring its own equipment? And what if she hadn't been home to let the crew use the bathroom?

The crew was packed and gone by 5 p.m. Before they left they ran a nail magnet through the grass and picked up whatever shingle debris was in the yard. The roof was fine, the price fair. What wasn't satisfactory were the leaves dumped around the drive: the crew had used her trash containers to transfer shingles to the truck — after emptying the contents.

It took a morning of sanding and repainting to get the dents out of her new railing. More time to fish shingles from the shrubbery. In the next month, several neighbors asked if she would recommend the company. She would not. Not only that, she wrote to its president complaining about the crew's lack of professionalism.

She never heard back.

Jim Cory