I was told at my yoga retreat that I didn’t know myself, and on one level that may be true.
On another, I kind of wish I didn’t after what happened the other day. 😦
Whilst I am trying to embrace the creative and holistic right now, I cannot deny that I am, after decades in the commercial world, also quite a formidable businesswoman and negotiator, and whilst I have no outlet for the side of me right now, it does come in handy to wheel it out when buying stuff.
I’ve been trying to sort out new flooring for my home for some time, and after advertising the work on a building professionals website, the quotes started pouring in.
As soon as I start reading them, I knew they would provoke me.
I don’t know what it is about some men in the building industry, but they think women of a certain age like me are a bit gullible and vulnerable and will swallow any pseudo handyman bullshit that they feed to us, and in the past it got to the stage where I would just silently DARE these ‘professionals’ to try and take me in, just so I could take them down.
Take for instance, the guy who did a quote to replace my windows a few years ago.
I made an appointment with this company to give me a quote, told them they had 30 minutes max to do it in and that I wouldn’t make a decision that day (a BIG clue that I’m no pushover, right?!), so they send this rather glib looking bloke in a cheap suit over.
He came in, did the measurements, pulled his sample out of his bag and waxed lyrical about it until I told him that I had to go out and please could he give me a quote so that I could compare it line by line alongside others that I would be obtaining.
I couldn’t have been more clear.
So he pulled out a calculator and tapped away for 10 minutes, intermittently frowning and chewing on his pen, until, at last he wrote down a figure on a bit of paper and presented it to me with a flourish.
I looked at it. It was pretty substantial.
I asked him how he got to that figure.
He told me it consisted of the cost of each individual window, plus the removal of the old ones, installation of the new ones, skip hire, etc.
Great says I, can I see your workings out?
He goes a bit pink and points at his calculator then shrugs. He didn’t write them down.
That’s OK, I say, can you go through it again and write it all down whilst I watch.
He’s very red in the face, and a bit sweaty around the brow now, then with some relief, remembers the fact that we’re out of time and I need to go out.
That’s OK, I say sweetly, I can move my appointment along 15 minutes.
I then sit and watch him squirm as he tries in vain to work backwards ‘Countdown’ styee and arrive at a figure that he pretty much pulled out of his arse.
Even Carol Vorderman wouldn’t have been able to pull that one off.
As his calculating was, as I suspected, all one big, farcical pantomime.
And it wasn’t even Christmas!
So, after 15 minutes of his lame excuses (calculator’s playing up, he’s getting a headache, but it’s a great price, just ask anyone, blah, blah, blah) I ask him to leave and tell him not to contact me again.
Annoying yes? And there is a LOT of this about, so whenever I can, I do my own DIY and only seek the professionals when I absolutely have to.
So we come to the flooring guy from above mentioned website.
He seemed very nice, came over, did measurements etc, and gave me a very healthy quote.
Then it took him A MONTH to send me a flooring sample. I can only assume he kept shoving me to the back of the queue because he had more lucrative business on the go, but it was extremely frustrating.
Then when he finally deemed to put it in the post, it was pretty crap, so he said he’d find me the quality flooring I was looking for, which would cost more, but only a little, plus he’d give me a discount because he’d kept me waiting so long.
He then ups the quote by 50%.
I very nearly choke on my tea.
I write to him via the website and tell him 50% is hardly ‘only a little’, and ask him to justify why the flooring is so expensive.
He tells me it’s not, but the other elements (delivery, installation, moving furniture etc.) all add up, but they were also included in the first quote, so this didn’t make sense.
So I ask him to take both figures and break them down alongside one another including all costs, i.e. flooring, installation, disposal, yada, yada.
You can guess what happened, can’t you?
He immediately get all defensive, twists and turns and does everything he can to avoid doing and sending me this simple summary of each quote.
Of course I know what he’s done. He pulled a figure out of the air for the first quote because he wanted to get rid of some leftover cheapo stuff, and then did a proper estimate for the second quote and hence came unstuck.
If he’d fronted with me about this, and said something along the lines of ‘Look love, this is the offer, take it or leave it?’ I’d have probably still gone with him.
But because he insisted on treating me (as far as I was concerned) like I was an eejit, I wouldn’t let it go.
To say I’d unleashed my inner Lord Sugar on him would be an understatement and a disservice to ‘Sirralan’: I was a little more like a combination between Fiona Shackleton (Paul McCartney’s lawyer), Blake from Glengarry Glen Ross and a Rottweiler.
I ran rings around him.
So, bamboozled, embarrassed, angry and humiliated, and at the risk of pissing me off and getting a bad rating online, he pulled out of the job.
So in the end, the net result was lose/lose.
And when i think about it, in my heart, I don’t believe this guy’s intentions were that malign, and even if he was taking the piss a bit, as the more experienced sales professional, I could have handled it better.
And I certainly could have been kinder.
But my demons, opportunistic bastards that they are, came out in force and told me that he was a man, and men were not to be trusted, and this guy clearly thought that I was a stupid, lonely, desperate, peri menopausal old bag and had badly underestimated me, so I should kick his big, dumb, sexist, ageist ass for him.
In my defence though, what I didn’t do and could have done, was give him a bad rating and slag him off online, something I would have done without hesitation, and with malicious relish a year ago.
I accepted his resigation, told him what I thought had happened, suggested he worked on the basis of transparency and honesty in his negotiations moving forward and bid him good day.
He’s probably underneath Waterloo Bridge sinking a bottle of meths as we speak….
Then, the other day, in complete contrast, I see some of the photographs from my holiday online, and I can see, to my dismay, evidence of my real inner doggie right before my eyes.
In some pictures I look relatively happy, but in others, even at a distance, it is evident that I am not fitting in. I am peripheral to the group, my body language is awkward and/or defensive, and I look apprehensive, unsure and very, very alone.
What a mess I am.
I’m starting to think I should never unleash myself back out into the world again.
Back to the TV….