From elated to deflated. That’s the succinct description of my holiday week, raging against the machine of regulatory madness. I should have known it was too good to be true when the health inspector squeezed me in for my final review just two days before Thanksgiving. She made a beeline to the bathroom to inspect the all-important “open” toilet seat, ignoring the painstaking time I’d spent affixing the soap and paper towel dispensers to the awkward corner wall nearest the sink, to say nothing of the arthritis aggravating purgatory I inflicted on my knees to caulk every crevice along the baseboards. But at least the work was done. It was there, as it was ordered, irrespective of being acknowledged. And with it, I passed the health inspection – with a particular note to how cozy I’d made the place since she was last on the premises a month earlier. I was bouncing off the walls on the way to the Restaurant Store for added supplies.
First thing Wednesday morning, I phoned the building inspector’s office to set up that inspection – the third and final city-inflicted hurdle before opening. He could come out first thing Friday morning, while the rest of the country recovered from turkey overload. Seriously? I could actually wrap everything up and open my doors any time after Friday? After all the plumber and carpenter craziness, could the grand opening really be that drama free?
No. Decidedly not.
“Did you have a fire inspection?” the building inspector asked when he called to tell me the time window for his arrival at the store. “It’s not in the computer.”
You mean the three-minute inspection that cost me three figures that the nonchalant inspector told me would be in the system that afternoon? The inspection that took place two weeks ago? That one?! I thought.
The building inspector was exceedingly gracious when he arrived to tell me that everything looked in order for my use and occupancy permit. He didn’t even have to go through with the inspection without proof that the fire department had already been there. I lucked out on that, at least. I did not, however, luck out on reaching the fire guy to have him correct his oversight. I had the man’s cell phone number, but he wasn’t answering!
Monday morning and three phone messages later, the desk-bound fireman was still not in the office! It was time to go over his head. His supervisor said he would take care of my approval within thirty minutes. Twenty-four hours later, I discovered he had not.
By 10a Tuesday morning, I was closer to tears than I had been at any time through this challenging experience. I had already missed my intended opening week. How much longer were these guys going to keep the next phase of my life on hold?
Not minutes after asking myself that self-pitying question, I received back to back phone calls. The fire inspector had been on medical leave and apologized profusely for the two-week delay in my approval. I thanked him and told him to get well soon. Immediately following that surprising expression of good will, the building inspector called to tell me that with the fire inspection approval in the system, I could pick up my permit downtown. I will be there when the doors open about eight hours from now.
Who’s left to torture me before I ring the register for the first time? The sign guy, that’s who. That’s tomorrow’s target, before teaching two classes of kung fu. My students are going to think I’m on something if I don’t get my signs before I get to the gym. Good thing tomorrow’s classes are in the boxing room….