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Leland Stone
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Hiya, Magi:

My day job is contracting, which typically involves challenging projects for pleasant clients. Tuesday's client, however, was the exception.

She'd hired me to install a mantlepiece and surround on her fireplace, for which she'd purchased a "kit." Unfortunately, the "kit" she bought was for a different installation, a fact I explained and which she seemed to understand. "Can you make it work anyway? I don't mind paying extra, and of course expect the finished product to look different from what the package does..." These words would be forgotten as quickly as they were uttered, but unfortunately, not by me. Unable to resist the puppy-eyed look of an elderly widow with nowhere else to turn, I began jury rigging the installation.

Things were going okay -- not great, but okay. Ordinarily, I don't like tinkering with kit products, but I was able to adapt this one into an acceptable finished state. Or so I thought...until the widow informed me that my work was neither plumb nor level. When I informed the client that I'd checked everything with a level as the work progressed, I was told that tools are not always accurate; when I told her that switching the ends of the level cancelled out any inaccuracy while yielding the same level result, I was told that things still looked "off." "But you're the expert," she said, "I'll trust your judgment." At this point my judgment was telling me that I'd been hired by someone who expected to be swindled by an operator caring nothing for his craft [in other words, a contractor], but who lacked the expertise to tell when the desired work was actually being well-done. The project degraded from there.

Finally, as politely as I could, I informed the lady that I'd be pleased to reposition the parts to her liking and secure them in whatever place looked right to her. "It doesn't matter where you put them, young man...the tile man is going to have to remove all of this woodwork before he covers up the bricks with the new marble I've ordered."

Emo was right..."Some days, it's just not worth gnawing through the straps and getting out of bed..."

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Cory Gallupe
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Now, that site has some funny stories! My dad is a contractor too. He has had problems like that from day one, then he comes home and rants all night! Smile
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She actually called you "Young Man"? Huh. Some customers can be so rude. Smile

David Smile
Michael Baker
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Pray for the tile man...
~michael baker
The Magic Company
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Leland: I can make her disappear if you like.

I charge by the pound.


(Thanks to Jeff McBride for that last line!)
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Profile of Chessmann
Once again, my theory has been proven correct:

"Even a man/woman who is pure in heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a demon when he or she becmes a 'customer'. "
My ex-cat was named "Muffin". "Vomit" would be a better name for her. AKA "The Evil Ball of Fur".
Leland Stone
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Thanks for the input, Magi! Upon reflection, a couple of things came to mind:

This client wasn't malicious -- there was nothing personal about her dithering and lack of trust. Unlike the lawyer I once worked for...

I volunteered for the gig...the prospect of a check overpowered that little voice in my head whispering "DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!"

I got away cheap...half a day's labour, a few materials, no litigation, and...I kept my cool.

Yeah, it was difficult to do work for someone who didn't know what she wanted and wouldn't take responsibility for directing how it should be done. But I have to admit, it was pretty easy to stop being upset with someone who was old, uncertain, and probably feeling pretty vulnerable. In the end, the worst of it is the lack of any real lesson...analyzing my interaction with the client hasn't yielded any info on creating a more successful (i.e., "profitable") encounter under similar circumstances.
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