You might wonder what someone does with his or her time after being off work for nearly a year? I myself decided to focus on both the creative and practical and patch up my home whilst patching up my heart, body and soul.
Over the course of this time I’ve had walls re-plastered, a wood stove installed, I’ve painted throughout, thrown out tons of space stealing rubbish, and can now finally see light at the end of the tunnel.
Only the flooring left to do.
My current natural flooring has been down for ten years, but apart from one big red wine incident (which totally killed a night of passion with a certain someone, but that’s another story) it only really got its arse kicked in the last four. Why is that you might ask?
Like everything else in my little domicile, my carpet met it’s match in the form of two very cute, very hyper tomcats.
It’s not just the scratches that ruined it, but litter prints, drinks being knocked over and my favourite, vomit stains, a result of either hairballs or ‘scarf and barf’ behaviour as they both bolt down their food at the speed of light, whilst casting anxious glances at one another just in case one finishes first and steals from the other. And it’s not that I underfeed them; both are burly to the point of being biffers and I have to work hard to ensure that they don’t end up the approximate size and shape of a rugby ball.
But this isn’t the reason for my ire. I stopped caring long ago about their leaving their mark on stuff. From the moment they arrived as tiny kittens, I knew it would be this way and recognised that the mess would be infinitely worse if I had two human male teenagers so accept this as par for the course. I just need to replace it now with something pretty much bullet proof, which leads me onto my pet hate.
What really totally infuriates me are tradesmen who assume that I am fucking stupid because I have a vagina.
I cannot and do not levy this accusation at all tradesmen; I had a charming plasterer who worked like a Trojan in one of the hottest weeks of 2012, and did extras for me (not those kind, thank you) at a very reasonable price and in return I plied him with sandwiches, home made cake and tea, which satisfied my ‘feeder’ habit whilst making him a very happy boy indeed. So it was a win/win situation, the desired outcome to any business transaction, right?
But there are some, including flooring man, that on that first meeting, the minute you open the door, you can almost see the pound signs in their eyes, when they behold a middle aged woman in a nicely decorated home, with a nice car with an obvious liking and a willingness to pay for nice things.
What they are too dumb to work out is that women my age were teenagers in the punk era, lived though the AIDS virus, and were brought up during Thatcher’s Britain (and either fought against her or were as ruthless as her), so are not to be trifled with.
All the tradesmen that have ever worked for me have asked what I do for a living (again trying to ascertain what I can afford) and I am always honest about this in the hope that it would make them realise that I am relatively bright and business savvy given my background in marketing, sales and negotiation. And I want them to be honest. I really want them to be honest, because I’m cynical enough without yet another wanker thinking that I can’t use a calculator/surf the internet/do research, trying to rip me off.
But the ones with the glint in their eye always let me down and try it on. This then causes me to become enraged, fall to my knees, throw my head back and release my inner Kraken, which then tears them limb from limb.
I usually start by taking their quote, and pull it to pieces, making them explain and justify every single element. The guy who sold me my stove (who called himself a ‘Director’ – hah! He could barely grow a beard…) used to hide from me and wouldn’t take my calls because he didn’t know the answers to the technical questions and it was his company! And he assumed I was stupid?!
If they are dumb enough to pull a figure out of the air and pretend there is some science behind it, then they are my favourites. I had one double glazing guy sit with a caculator, tapping away, chewing his pen looking all studious, and after 15 minutes he handed me a single figure. When I asked him to work backwards and show me how he came up with it, his face was a picture. Cue more tapping, more chewing, his tea going cold as he toiled, beads of sweat forming on his brow as he desperately tried to make up something that made sense (math is a particularly unforgiving bitch, ain’t she?), until out of sheer desperation, he feigned an ‘urgent’ call from the office and made good his escape. This still makes me smile even now.
The next thing I do is to focus on those mysterious little costs that don’t make sense but that some women just sign off and pay just because they are to argue.
The wood stove guys for instance, wanted to charge me about £50 for, what amounted to lighting a ‘special’ candle to test whether smoke was traveling up the chimney and coming out of the pot. I. Think. Not. I told them where to stick that, and it wasn’t up my flue, rest assured.
And now we come to the flooring guy.
The flooring guy thinks I don’t know how much floor space I occupy and has added on an additional 20 metres for his quote. He thinks I am a stranger to the retractable tape measure.
He also wants to charge me £200 for lifting the old carpet out and taking it away. I could do that, with the help of the council for about £20.
He also wants to charge me double the price that Homebase charge for hard boarding. WTF?
I’m quite breathless with rage.
Whilst ripping him a new arsehole with my teeth would be hugely therapeutic and totally justified, I believe this to be against the law, so I’ve revised his quote, attached background information to justify all the changes and sent it back to him.
He now claims that the extra flooring is so there won’t be a join but what he doesn’t know is that another high end company has sent me a quote that validates my calculation to a T. He also doesn’t want me to pull up my own carpets because they are grippers and underlay to deal with and I may find this ‘tricky’.
I’d like to give him tricky with one of those nail studded mothas, but I’m afraid I might scratch my little girly handy with it.
Lying, patronising weasel.
The most dignified course of action and the biggest punishment I can dole out is to take my business elsewhere which is what I’m going to do. I’m not even going to dignify his email with a reply.
Stupid man. His greed has just lost him a job.
I do get that tradesmen have to put a margin on some things in order to make a living, but boys, please, do not take the piss or I will make mince meat out of you.
You might also remember that my vets told me that Dexter had something wrong with him and needs a scan? And that they just so happen to have new scanning equipment on site for such eventualities and wanted to book him in for £120 a pop?
I have since asked the owner for something in writing stating that he definitely has this condition and informed him that I will be getting a second opinion to back this up. He promptly shat himself, and called me saying that we could keep Dex under observation for now.
When I took the boys in for their inoculations, he was there, simpering and groveling, saying how pretty they were and offering to reduce the cost of their treatment that day. He also gave me discount vouchers for posh cat food and his card just in case I needed any further help/advice. It’s almost amusing; does he honestly think a couple of cheap packs of Science Plan will make me forget that he has seemingly tried to use my love for my pet to try and scare me in to parting with big chunk of wonga? My cats, along with my family and friends, are my life, and if it transpires that he did frighten me for nothing in order to leech money from me, balls will break and heads will roll.
Tradesmen and women who practice this way; hear this. There are worse things than losing a job. There is word of mouth. There is being reported. There is ‘Rogue Traders’. There is crossing me.
To my big bloated, sad sack of a vet, your twitchiness had better be down to shell shock, too much coke, or something other than being busted as I PITY the fool who is dumb enough to come between a peri menopausal, depressive, almost broke bitch and her cat.