Here’s One List You Don’t Want To Make

The past three or four days have been interesting, to say the least.   On the final day of my most recent fishing trip I called home to learn that a storm inflicting damage on a portion of southern Minnesota indeed personally touched my life.   The damage was due to hail, roughly the size of a baseball, pummeling my farm and resulting in damage to all of the buildings and any vehicles that were left outside.

Of particular disappointment was to my house which loyal blog readers will know is new after last summer.   In fact, it wasn’t until last October when I finally moved into the new house after a long summer during 2005 of construction and related headaches.   Now, the house is totaled (on the outside) requiring a new roof, all new siding and gutters after only about 10 months since they were first put on.   Yea, kind of a bummer, if you don’t mind me saying so.

After last summer making one of the worst decisions in my life by hiring the wrong building contractor to complete my housing project, I vowed never again to make the mistake of failing to check out the business aptitude as well as the overall ability of a contractor to treat me fair and to complete the job right.   Indeed, I’ve learned a lesson the hard way that the decisions you make in choosing a building contractor are results that you must live with for many years — literally!

Not being one to dwell on those past mistakes, I thought this time around I am going to more thoroughly check out any skilled labor that I might ultimately choose to work on my now new house project.   The storm, you might say, has given me another chance to this time make the right choices in finding the ideal people to best serve my housing interests.   So you begin by talking to friends and asking around…you know, everybody seems to have ideas on who you should use to get the job done.

So two days ago, on the recommendation of a friend, this contractor shows up looking to bid on my project and prove his worthiness.   I must admit I’m leery…even downright skeptical whether or not he’s the right choice.   Then we strike up a conversation about hunting.   Seems he’s a big hunter…loves to hunt.   In fact, he told me he could not wait to get home that day just to spend some time outside shooting the bow.   Slowly I’m warming up to the guy…figure he’s one of us.   Hell, I’d much rather do business with a sportsman who shares similar outdoor interests as I do.   I figure…somebody who connects in such a manner with me is bound to treat me fair as one would only expect from another outdoors brother.

Well…I was wrong.   Just when I was about to give the guy the benefit of the doubt I discovered a dark little secret about his past.   A secret that I must say absolutely killed the deal.   I typed his name and home-town into Google and this little secret practically jumped out at me…begging me to take heed.   You see, what I had found was this new prospective building contractor on a dirty list kept by several different state game agencies.   On this particular list from my home state of Minnesota I found the name of the contractor hoping to do work on my house.   That’s right, a big-game law violator who still has several more years of suspension on his hunting privileges.   In other words, in Minnesota, as well as in several cooperating states, this guy cannot legally hunt big game this season or for several more seasons to come.   His past actions and subsequent court conviction is right there in plain sight for the public to view.

Now quite honestly up until that point I did not know such a list even existed.   What a great tool.   Here I am doing a Google search (the poor man’s background check) on a name and address when I find the list of fish and game violators…and that’s how it should be.   Our fish and game law violators who have lost their privileges because of their flagrant actions should be identified for public scrutiny.   When your name inauspiciously lands on such a list it should become fodder for folks attempting to decipher your character.

Needless to say this guy’s business card got promptly tossed in the waste can upon learning of his game conviction.   Quite frankly I didn’t need to research any further…if you hold yourself out to me as a sportsman and the records clearly show something different…all credibility is instantly gone.   Kaput!

But what still concerns me is this guy’s remark that he had to go home to practice with his bow.   Is he planning to hunt this fall?   Is he perhaps planning to illegally hunt in Minnesota or one of the other states that also recognizes his suspended big game license?   Suddenly my interest in the contractor rests more on his upcoming hunting adventures rather than any work he might be expecting to do on my house.

Certainly he doesn’t know I’ve seen his name on the game violator list.   He doesn’t realize his chances to do any work for me have all but disappeared thanks to his apparent poor behavior afield.   He also doesn’t know I will do whatever is necessary to cooperate with his local conservation officer should I learn of any future illegal plans from our next conversation.

Yup, I’ve learned that choosing the wrong construction contractor can be a big headache if the necessary care isn’t used to filter out the “bad eggs” found throughout the profession.   Conversely, it might soon become a learning lesson for one particular contractor who has a demonstrated history of past game violations if it turns out he didn’t use greater care in choosing the right potential customer.   Truth is…if a person holds themselves out to me as a sportsman then their actions better reinforce the words…or this time they just might end up being the ones to pay the consequences.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.  No Reproduction Without Prior Permission.