By Kim Fernandez

About two months ago, we replaced the roof on the mid-’90s addition to my 1939 house. This meant matching asphalt shingles and lining them up with the original house’s slate roof, dodging a few complex angles, re-flashing a chimney, and a the onset of some heartburn for me–how could I be sure everything was done right? Blind trust, while a lovely theoretical concept, left me more than a bit uneasy in this particular situation. Thankfully, I had a not-so-secret weapon: My retired next-door neighbor. He’s generous and kind, funny and smart, and happens to have owned a well-regarded roofing company for about 35 years.

Bob reviewed the quotes, highlighted potential sticking points, gave me a list of questions to ask, and told me what to watch for on installation day. And mid-afternoon, when there were about 10 guys banging on my house and shingle remnants all over the place and what sounded like a fierce, endless battle going on over my head, he called me. “I’ve been watching,” he said. “They’re doing a very nice job.”

Whew. I mean, that’s priceless. Having someone with specialized expertise who’s willing to share it is everything. I know many of you can relate, having learned from another industry professional when you started your career, ran into them at the Expo, submitted a question to Forum, or found yourself out of your comfort zone but needing to move forward. Thirty seconds to feeling much less stressed–what a difference.

Bob probably hasn’t given a second thought to making that phone call the day my roof went up, but I sure have. It really is the little things.

Kim Fernandez is IPMI’s director of publications and editor of Parking & Mobility.