The Wanderlust Lady and the Door to Door Salesman - 36
The note I found through my door read as follows:
Dear Mr. Barber,
Thank you for submitting a quote for the painting work on our house. However, we
have now accepted someone else's offer, which was considerably lower than yours.
Thank you for your time and trouble.
Mrs. E. Reynolds
What a blow. I was so sure I was in on that one. It was Fred's advice that I was going
by – start high and be prepared to come down. I thought just maybe I could get in with a lower bid. So taking the card for Mrs. Reynolds with her phone number on it, I called her.
“Hello, This is Stan Barber. I had your letter through the door, saying you rejected my quote. I'd like to revise it. I could do the work for £175.”
“What made you change your mind, Mr. Barber?”
“I really want that job,” I said honestly. “A friend suggested the amount I charge, as I have only worked for two people before, and didn't really know what the trade price for painters was. But I'm prepared to work for less until my reputation is built up.”
“I appreciate your honesty, Mr. Barber. We liked you when you came around before, and now that you have revised your price, we will give you the work. When can you start?”
“I could start tomorrow, as the job I was on finished today,” I said. “But I'd need enough money up front to pay for the paint.”
“”And how much would that be?”
“Fifty pounds should do it.”
“Fine. Be here at 9 tomorrow morning, and I'll meet you with the money and instructions regarding the paint.”
Later, when Fred came around with my money for the job which he said he was pleased with, he said that I'd done the right thing. “She probably hadn't had any other people in mind for the job – or if she did, she wasn't very happy about the idea of using them. So that was smart thinking. But if they want you to do the whole house – don't feel
you can't up your price a bit.”
“What worries me is that I don't have a ladder. I was going to buy one, and have the
money in the bank, but I won't have time to go shopping before I go there tomorrow morning. I can hardly use one of their chairs to stand on, like I did when I was painting my house.”
“How high are the ceilings?”
“The usual – just over two metres.”
“I have a small ladder you can borrow for tomorrow. Then go and get yourself one
before you do the rest of the house. They aren't expensive. You'll be hoofing it over there, I take it.”
“Well, then here's my smallest and lightest one. You might feel a bit precarious
balanced on it, but it's safe enough.”
“Thanks again, Fred. I don't know what I would have done without you to help me
“No problem. What was the upshot on the estate agent business?”
“The Mills decided on Mellor's as they are local. All the people came up with the same
sorts of amounts – and I think the decision is to go with £175,000 and be prepared to come down if it doesn't sell quickly.”
“That's a lot of money for that house.”
“The Mills aren't in any hurry to sell it, so want to make the most possible out of it.”
“Well, my guess is that it'll still be on the market when I've sold mine,” said Fred.
“and by then, they'll be happy to take a low offer.”
“I did tell them you were interested but thought it was overpriced.”
“Good. I was hoping you would.”
March 7, 2013
Thursday morning, armed with a bundle of paint sheets tied to Fred's little ladder, and
my selection of brushes and rollers, masking tape, and my radio in my back pack, I made my way to the house I was to paint.
Mrs. Reynolds met me and let me in. She gave me the front door key and £50. She said I would be on my own in the house – but that the utilities were on, so I could make myself a cup of tea or coffee when I wanted. Milk was in the fridge.
Luckily the orange room was stripped of all its furniture, so that made the whole job a
lot easier. I put down the sheets on the floor, set up the ladder, and stood on it, just to see what sort of challenge it was going to bring me. But it wasn't too bad at all. I could use the one below the top step and still reach the ceiling. Reassured by that, I took the cash and went to Tom's and bought two two-litre containers of the required colour – sand beige. Luckily the ceiling hadn't been painted orange like the walls – so I should get by with two coats on that.
It took just over half an hour for the trip to the shops, so it was getting on for 10 by the time I finally was ready to start. I put my radio on. I'd left my phone at home, because I didn't want to have to keep answering it, and anybody who was serious would leave me a message anyway.
It was such a simple job and as I was now quite experienced in how much paint to load on the roller and things like that, I had done the first coat on the ceiling by 11.30. It would take a few hours to dry before I started on the top coat, so I decided to tackle the dreaded orange paint. Having learned from my mistakes in the past, I knew it was well worth my time to put masking tape all around the doors and skirting boards. While I was doing it, I did the windows too – as it was good for my back and arms to have a break from the reaching work that painting involves.
As promised, Mrs. Reynolds came back around lunch time. I hadn't brought a sandwich with me – and when she asked me if I intended to go out for lunch, I said I'd just carry on. But I knew that I'd bring food with me on the next day. She did put out a few biscuits which I wolfed down with my tea.
“When do you anticipate finishing?”
“I think Monday should see me done.”
“Well, I'll come back about 5 on Monday then, and pay you the rest and see how it's
I worked steadily on the walls, and had managed to do the top coat on the ceiling, and two walls with the first coat by 5 o'clock – which I decided was my punch-out time.
I left my ladder and paint things behind, having cleaned up my brushes and roller before I left. I was exhausted – not having had the same sort of level of work before – as I'd done my house and Fred's in smaller bits at a time.
When I got home, I found five messages on my phone. Three were from people interested in the stuff which was already gone. I didn't bother replying to any of them. The next one was from Mrs. Mills so I decided to call her back as soon as I checked on the last message. It was from the estate agent's secretary. They were going to have a couple come around to see the house the next day at 1 p.m. Just as well as I had the warning, so I could tidy up and make sure I made my bed in the morning before I was off to work.
“Stan. I was so surprised when I kept calling and you weren't there.”
“I got another painting job, Mrs. Mills. So I told the estate agent that he should show people around unless it was at night.”
“Have you got enough money to keep you going, Stan? I know we owe you for your
share of the pictures. Would you like me to send you a cheque now?”
“No, that's fine for the moment. I sold four of the silver items yesterday for £500 –
so my cut of that was £100. I put all the money in my account, so when all the selling is over, we can work out whether you owe me or I owe you,” I said.
“Sounds fine to me,” said Mrs. Mills. “I'm wondering if the agent had any interest in the house. But I suppose you haven't heard.”
“Apparently there's a couple coming around to see it tomorrow at 1. I expect they'll contact you after the viewing if there is anything to say. I'll make sure the place is nice and tidy before I go out.”
“I wish you could be there when they come, so you could tell us what they think and say.”
“Chances are they wouldn't say anything much to me anyway. They'd tell the agent after the viewing was over, so I don't think you'll miss much by my not being here.”
“Well, keep me informed, Stan.”
“I will Mrs. Mills. Thanks for calling.”
Friday morning I got up especially early to make sure the dishes were done, and everything was tidy in house and garden. Then I made my way over to Marple Hall
Drive to be there for a 9 o'clock start. I let myself in, and after making a brew, got stuck into finishing off the first coat on the remaining walls, and starting the second coat on the others. By lunch time the only sign of orange was a pale tinge that showed through. I thought that just maybe with a bit of luck, I could make two coats cover it up well enough.
I'd brought my phone with me this time, but didn't turn it on. When it rang, I let it go
to ansaphone, and over lunch (with a cheese sandwich this time) I checked on the calls. It was lucky I hadn't bothered, as there was no message. Probably a cold call telling me my computer was malfunctioning and only they could fix it.
After lunch, I managed the second coat on the other two walls, and decided that I
would do the woodwork next, and leave the decision about the third coat until after I had done that. I was pretty tired on the trip home, but not quite as bad as the day before.
There'd been no more phone calls, so I had no idea of how the house viewing had gone. Nothing looked any different when I got to the house - so I had no idea if they'd even been in it. It was sure frustrating. I could imagine Mrs. Mills chewing her fingernails.