Learning and Relearning

Apologies for my sporadic attention. The house stuff, buying and selling, is pretty all-consuming, and this week I’ve been the puppet of the tech gods, who wanted to show me a thing or two, so I’m writing on a newly rebuilt computer, using a different keyboard, having replaced battery in wireless mouse and printer cartridge, to say nothing of my life outside of work.

Let’s just say that I’m learning a lot, right now. Some of the things I’m getting schooled in again. I’m trying to get through it to the best of my abilities, but I’m not at my best. Here are some recent lessons:

  • The animals, who’ve been above-average sports about things so far, are over me being stressed out, distracted, and too busy to engage with them. And I’m starting to face consequent behavior problems. So yes, I actually do need to pay attention to the dog when I walk him, and there is a point of engagement below which we don’t have a great relationship. True for the cats too. And that litterbox is getting low…
  • I’m getting told frequently what a good deal I’m getting, by service people, salespeople, etc. Yesterday, I had two service people in the house I’m selling. One told me he wouldn’t charge me for materials. The other told me he wouldn’t charge me for a service call. Both of them made kind of a big deal about it, and I fully recognize that they could have tried to gouge me, and they didn’t, and I’m grateful. They both earned my loyalty as a customer, and I’ll continue to do business with them both. But the one who didn’t charge me for materials used minimal materials in the repair. And the one who talked a lot about the “50 percent discount” I got because he didn’t charge me for the service call was returning about something he “fixed” last week that the buyer’s inspector found problems with. Before he left, last week, he said “if you have any trouble, you let me know and I’ll come back again, no charge.” So that service call was always going to be “free.” My mom is convinced that I saved 50 percent because they had a nice conversation. I appreciate her being at the house during the repair, so I didn’t have to take time off from work, so I’m not telling her otherwise.
    • There are people in my life who think I owe them things because we know each other and/or because they have an idea that it would be easy for me to give them these things. I told you about the acquaintance who wanted to buy my house before I put it on the market. I have another friend who wants me to buy something from him. I didn’t know he was in the business, but part of the reason I didn’t know that was that we haven’t talked in like, a year. He’s only very tangentially in my life, at this point. I’ve actually been researching this issue for weeks, and have basically made a decision. But he asked me very publicly to let him bid on it, so I said I would. Setting this up has been entirely at his convenience, he’s kept me waiting for return calls far longer than I’d wait for anyone else— he’s not trying to do me a favor, he feels entitled to the commission someone will earn on this. There are times that I could be understanding about that— this isn’t really that kind of time in my life. I can tell that I’m being used and I’m not grateful for it. And I don’t think it will get better, because unless he’s more plugged in than he seems, I’m going with the decision I’ve already made, and he’ll have invested time, so I’ll be “ungrateful” on a whole other level. I don’t love the social aspects of this.
      • With that said, I’ve realized that I don’t love the social aspects of this when other people aim them at me. The next story talks about a friend I asked for help, and I’m not at all grumpy about having connected friends, I’m just grumpy about people who are making demands on me without seeing that this is a business deal, not an opportunity for me to do them a favor that has low reciprocal benefit.
  • The power of persistence. The realtor with whom I’m buying the house has been really trying to get the sellers to repair a big ticket item. Let me be absolutely clear— I hope they repair it too. I think they should repair it. But I know they repaired half of it less than a year ago. It’s a pretty telling thing when you repair half of something. I’ve been telling the realtor that, much as I want these things, these are not hills I’m willing to die on— I will be upset if they scuttle the deal over it. He’s kept at it well past my (loud and repeated) expression of discomfort, and partially because of his urging, I made a call to an old friend who gave me good advice that I was able to leverage. I don’t know if they’ll make the repair, but I think I’ve done every blessed thing on earth to better my chances.
    • A difference between me and the people who are making demands on me: I contacted my friend. I apologized for interrupting, acknowledged that she was busy, asked for help, but said that I understood if there was nothing that could be done. I didn’t ask her to give me special treatment (though it was implied) and she didn’t. But she gave me advice that I was able to leverage to my benefit. And it didn’t cost her anything significant— she provided no services to me and I got no unusual discounts. I also thanked her profusely and offered to return the favor. I also made a commitment that if I have to pay for the repair, that I will employ and pay her company, because she works there.
      I have also had people do me favors that required far more of them than I could easily repay. I have made it a point to (1) offer to pay them with money, (2) prioritize the next thing they ask, whether they ask it of me specifically or not. Some friends did a huge favor for me several years ago, and did it quietly, so without a lot of public recognition. The next time they needed flat anything, I went out of my way to be there for them. I cancelled plans, I did things I didn’t find interesting or convenient. I went. the. extra. mile. For lots of reasons, but mostly because they already had gone extra miles for me.

Things I’m looking forward to learning in the near future:

  • How to clean out gutters.
  • If I can live with the variability of a reel-mower cut lawn or whether I’ll need to invest in an electric mulcher or not.
  • Where exactly I can hang a hammock in the back yard of my new place.
  • How to coordinate a move as complex as the one I face (two households, different days, 7 gajillion moving parts.)
  • Whether I can survive the long-term stress that I’m feeling and also keep my job, health, relationships, etc.
  • If the amount of diet soda I’m drinking will have long-term consequences.

Bear with me. I say that a lot lately, but I mean it.

10 thoughts on “Learning and Relearning

  1. I’m going to weigh in on the friend wanting to bid on the service you need. Go with your already researched choice. As much as I love this person, his business skills and infringement on friendship stuff has put me off doing any business with him. First, he gave his gf my sister’s cell phone number to cold-call her, and my sister’s never met the gf, and she called at an inconvenient time (like before 6 am on a weekend morning.) and gave her no context as to who she was, just opened the call with something, like “hey, I’d like to meet with you on blah…” The only reason she answered was that it was during the time dad was in the hospital, and she thought it might be someone trying to give us an update on his condition.

    Then, I asked him about something specific, and he said “sure, I can help with that…” and he never followed-up with me about it. Heck, it might even have been something he could’ve just answered right then, but, instead it was a yeah, we’ll talk. Cue 3 months of radio silence. Basically, not at all impressed, and as someone who knows plenty of people in this industry, including my mom, at various points, well, everyone else compares much more favorably than he does.

    I mean, he didn’t actually even answer your question, which was not about buying the product in question, but about personal experience with the companies in question. He skirted that part, and went to the pitch, which kinda annoyed me on your behalf.

    Anyway, So, I am thinking of you. and, I have ladders and gutter-cleaning ability if that’s a help.

    • Thanks— I just wrapped up with his guy, who quoted me a higher rate for the same coverage as the one I had already decided on. They were late calling me, even though I mentioned that I would be at work during the time he chose (my convenience wasn’t much of a factor). I feel like I upheld my part of the deal and gave him a shot. I was trying to cloak it a little better, knowing that you knew him and not wanting to have you choose sides, but I should have known you’d crack my code!

      • I’ve been thinking about it even without this post, but, didn’t want to wade into those waters… But, I also know you’re fair, and that I’ve been in the same spot, essentially, with this. Part of me was glad that he didn’t follow-up, because, I’d rather have that part be business, and not have it be the awkward thing. I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but, I think it’s better if we’re friends and not doing business.

    • Oh, and btw— if you’re offering to loan ladders especially, but gutter-cleaning expertise, I’ll totally take you up on it. And am happy to reciprocate, if you need a hand on a home thing or other project. You know I’m good for plum picking and fruit processing!

  2. I do. All the plums died off the tree this year, and I’m not sure why. I suspect it was my neighbors spring pruning, or possibly all the heavy rain/hail. So, it’ll be another year before there’s plums to deal with…

    And, yes I’m offering both, though, my schedule for weekends lately has been booked with a cemetery project, that has been about 4 times longer to do than the original estimate, and well, it seems it will never be done. And, you know, too, that I am happy to do without expectation of anything. As I’m typing this, I am also realizing I have a different car than I had when I bought the ladders, so, I’ll have to experiment with transport. If this weekend is a thing, I could do Sat morning (we have Cirque tixs for dad in the afternoon) or Sunday after cemetery project closes down (that would be elevenish)

    • You know, I didn’t get crabapples this year, either. I suspect the strange weather we’ve been having— there’s nothing even battered or bruised, up there, and the tree definitely flowered. A puzzler.

      Sounds like a big project! I’m looking at early fall for gutters at the earliest, so no worries for awhile. If your car isn’t great for transport, I’m willing to go so far as to borrow or rent a truck, for transporting.

      I know that you give without expectation of reciprocation, but I think that’s part of what I’m getting at, with this. That has been my MO, too, but I’m coming to believe that relationships where reciprocation isn’t sincerely available are problematic. So I would always offer the favor back, and would sincerely hope you’d take me up on it. Because the best friendships are balanced in that way, if not every minute then over time, and after 20-odd years, I like to consider our friendship that way!

      • Agreed. The plums set-on fruit, it was loaded, and the fruit was well-established, and then they all dropped off, so, yes.

        Cemetery project well, it’s sorta evil, but, Fairmount is finally playing nice with our group, and we’re allowed to do things at Riverside again, so, it would’ve been churlish if we’d said no, but, so far, it’s been three weekends of paint-scraping in the really painful heat. We’re at least one more weekend away from doing the painting part of the job. Oh well.

        Fall=gutters. Ok. I thought this might’ve been a” need to do for moving” project, so, more of a immediate need.

        And, yes. Totally get it, and appreciate it, and yup. So, right back attacha. Ironically, And maybe ruining the surprise a bit, but, I wrote some of this on a postcard for you that got mailed today, so, maybe that just means we’re in sync about things. Or something.

      • Thank you for the postcard! Your commitment to sending those is lovely, and I very much appreciated the columbine one you sent recently (but failed utterly to tell you how much)!

  3. You are most welcome! Right now, postcards are sorta keeping me from losing my mind, which sounds ridiculous, but, it’s true. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and no worries. I know how crazy things have been, and it’s a small thing I can do, to make a small part of one day a little bit better.

  4. Pingback: Let Me Count the Ways, Day 1: Top Conversation Starters | Adventures of Auntie M

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