nothing bad, don’t worry…

i was just thinking about that alicia keys song- if you don’t know it, you should. it’s hauntingly pretty as well as so many other things… but that has nothing to do with this post.

have you missed me? because i’ve missed you all for sure! i haven’t done too much worth writing about. i’ve had lots of migraines, done lots of soul searching about whether i’m really doing what i can/should to fulfil my purpose on earth (as if we can ever know what that is, right? and it’s all very self-indulgent anyway to assume that either i’m so mighty that i can/should be accomplishing great things or that i’m so cruddy/lowly that i couldn’t possibly be expected to do much anyhow… in either case, this is a huge digression from the intended point of this post. but it almost became its own fun ramble, didn’t it?)

we lost another 3 chux- 2 from dog and one from sex.

yes, of course i’ll explain.

a few weeks ago (i hope you’ll forgive me for not posting this sooner, but i was literally too upset to even write about it) dakota killed ginger crowcat and petunia grant. it was a friday afternoon and dakota actually ran out between my legs so quickly i swear i didn’t even see the muzzle flash. lots of screaming and clouds of feathers later i saw that she’d gotten another 2 of the girls. and i couldn’t even think of somewhere to bury them that dakota wouldn’t be able to dig them up.

enough about that.

from our original batch of baby rhode island reds we still had 2 left- my daughter’s lacy and my son’s copper. while lacy looks like an average hen- maroon with some black near her tail, copper got these gorgeous iridescent green tail feathers. she was literally almost double the size of lacy, although they were the same age. she was starting to get some really pretty coloring around her neck too. and she could puff out those feathers when she wanted to. if you’re a chicken person, i’ll bet you’re rolling on the floor laughing right now. but if you’re naive like me, keep reading. one day i noticed that when madge came over to peck at copper for eating, copper jumped on her back, and i was like, “yeah, copper- stand up for yourself!” i saw her do it a few more times, but i figured she was just trying to get higher up in the pecking order… my friend’s 4-year-old noticed that copper made a sort of cock-a-doodle-doo noise, and i patiently explained to her, ” no sweetie. copper is a girl chicken, so that’s just her way of saying hi to you. all of the chickens use their voices to say hi!” hello wise kid. hello, dumb adult.

long story short, copper the girl was a gender-bender. she was actually a he, and since we are neither zoned for roosters nor eager to wake up at 5am, copper had to go live back on the farm where we bought him. oh well.

but it was today’s foible that moved me to post. because i had some plumbers in the house and i just fell and fell. and i wanted to do a mea culpa here so you can laugh/relate/save some money.

we found ourselves in the lucky position of getting a hand-me-down dishwasher. since there is an old dishwasher here already, all of the actual plumbing and electrical hookups already exist, so it should be an easy job to just swap them out.

but it’s not.

we’ve called around and priced out the job, and today i was calling companies and one of them said that they couldn’t give me an idea over the phone, but that they did free estimates and that it would be no problem for someone to come on out and check the old and new dishwashers and make sure everything was in working order and give us a quote.

mistake #1- if you let them get in the door, of course you feel obligated to let them do the work. in fact, i even said to the lady on the phone, “i’d hate for them to have to come out to give me a quote if i don’t end up using them. can’t they just ballpark it over the phone? i don’t want to waste anyone’s time.” and she said they didn’t have any jobs this morning, they were just hanging around the office anyway, blah blah blah. so EVEN KNOWING WHAT I KNEW, i was still like, “ok then…”

a company that needs to get their foot in your door is a company that knows about salesmanship and they will try to sell you. not always of course, and clearly their reasons for wanting to see everything before they gave an estimate made sense, but i’m just saying- if you have a standard job and 5 companies say they can give you a straight quote and one wants to come out, this is something to be aware of.

mistake #2- oh those guys are just so darn likable. and they’re so darn cute too. reminded me of my son. if i was younger i might have wanted to grab a coffee with one of them. i gave them cookies. but of course they want you to like them. and unless they have another job waiting, it is worth their time to shmooze you up. because if you like them, you are more likely to buy their service, whether or not their service/price/value is better than the others. cuz you just want to help them out. and you’d give them even MORE if you could. so they know this. and this is why if they have a kind of quiet guy, even if he is an ace at the job, they will send him with the smooth talker. because the smooth talker will close the deal and let the talented guy do the actual work. it’s like college people: wake up! (i say this to myself, of course- not you!)

mistake #3- and this is the big one that i’m SO surprised and shocked that i missed (i’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but i will so you can learn from it)- good salespeople know that when their argument is weak, an appeal to a higher authority almost always works. in every negotiating class i took we learned this principle over and over again. this is in pretty much every decent book on negotiation. so after a lengthy dishwasher discussion, which i won’t bore you with here, i asked him about fixing a leaky sink. *h and i have wondered how high our water bills would have to get before we decided to take care of the problem. this is something the inspector found before we bought the house, so it’s an ongoing thing. and we were about on the edge of our point. so i asked him how much to fix it. i will tell you the actual prices so all you DIY folks can say, “i could fix that for 58 cents!” and everyone with kids can send them to school to become plumbers. he says, “normally it’s $199, but since i’m already here i can do it for you for $150.” and i was like, “WHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?” so i started telling him how everything just cost too much in seattle and i started putting stuff back in the cabinet under the sink (a great negotiating move of my own, even though i wasn’t negotiating- i was for real not gonna spend even close to that!), and i just kept rambling about how i’m still in shock about how expensive everything is, and he was trying to show me all the places the faucet was rusting underneath and all the places in the cabinet that had signs of water damage and i was just ranting and finally he fought me to a draw and i agreed to call *h.

so i talked it over with *h who said to go ahead, and i got off the phone and said, sorry but it’s just too much. can you do it for $100? so- pay attention to this part: he opens his book- HIS BOOK- his super secret plumber’s bible of highly classified prices to charge that shall not be disclosed to the customer under any circumstances- and shows me that for my type of faucet the repair is supposed to be $399 and the add-on price (if they are doing another job and this is in addition) is $199.95, so he’s already cutting me this sweet deal… wait for it…

and i was like, oh, well, that is pretty darn convincing…

I WROTE PAPERS ON THIS STUFF!

try this if you work in an office and if you can get away with it: type up any nonsense. post it prominently. make it look as official as possible. you can get people to do anything if they think Someone Official said to do it. tell them to put all of their cups upside down on the left side of the sink or to please only use forks to stir their coffee from now on. if you type it and make it look official people will do it. very few will ask why or dare to disregard it. even if it’s silly. or pointless. (with the usual exception of renegade gardeners, that is. guess these migraines are really knocking me off my game, huh????)

you can ask someone to do almost anything and if you can point to some mumbo jumbo in a book, they will most likely do it. sometimes the mumbo jumbo doesn’t even have to say anything to do with what you’re telling the person. just seem sincere and act convinced. watch. it will blow your mind.

guess what? if someone made it up (whoever it was who decided that it should go in that book) then someone can un-make it up. simple.

but I FELL FOR IT.

at least i had the self respect to negotiate for a few other things we needed from him to be thrown in as part of the “package”. but really? that job probably should have cost 58 cents.

but *h and i don’t know plumbing and we can’t risk breaking stuff and this is what i am now going to term “the ignorance tax”. when you don’t know something, and you don’t have the time/energy/inclination to learn, you’re going to pay. one way or another.

so, what can i say? i keep on falling…