The other project was a simple fireplace for a client in Ashe County who contacted me through email. He requested we do the stonework when his Mom was out of town so that it would be a surprise for her (and so she wouldn't have to deal with our noise and mess). I was able to configure my schedule to make the timing work. Unfortunately my stone suppliers had other ideas.... I planned to buy the stone from Wood Masonry in Boone, and they told me they could have the stone by Tues; we would start Weds and finish by Friday in order to be done when my client's Mom returned from a trip to Asheville.
The trouble started when Wood's supplier was out of the stone and had to make it to order; the stone needed be sawed by a huge diamond saw to make it lightweight enough to not require a footing. First Woods thought they might get it Wednesday, which would have been ok because I already had a small amount to get started and build the hearth. Then they pushed it back to Thursday, Friday, and finally Saturday before the stone would be ready. This was unacceptable because I had promised my client he would be able to surprise his Mom. My other supplier, Blue Ridge Quarries, was also out of the lightweight stone (or so I was told after calling on two different occasions). After much frustration and desperation, I asked my client to look online and see if anyone between here and Asheville had the stone. I was not ready to give up.
I talked to several suppliers over the phone and finally we located Tennessee Stone in Hendersonville, who had a good selection of stone (or so I was told over the phone). Well, Hendersonville is a 2 1/2 hour drive from Banner Elk, and close to 3 hours from the jobsite in Ashe, but I was willing to go to great lengths for my client. So Thursday I woke at 530 am and left for Hendersonville to be at the stoneyard by 8 when it opens. They did have a good selection of the stone EXCEPT they were out of the corners which are what make the sawed lightweight stone so wonderful. I picked out some corners of a different type, thinking we could make it work, but I decided to stop at Ble Ridge Quarries on the off chance they had a few corners in stock. Which they did! But also they had the flats... Turns out the person I talked to was new there and simply didn't know what she was talking about. I drove to Hendersonville for nothing.
The reason I tell this story is to underscore how hard I try for my clients. I can't help but take it personally when something doesn't work out or if a client is disappointed, and I will go to great lengths to make it right.