On Saturday morning, we had a guy come round our flat to put up some picture frames up and do some general drilling. The embarrassment of being nearly 29 and not be able to do these things myself is a different matter. What proceeded to happen left me feeling even worse with myself.
We had arranged on the phone he would visit between 12 - 2pm. He stated it was £45 for the first hour, £40 for the next hour and so on.
He called at 1pm to say he would be with me by 1.30pm. At 1.30pm, he called saying he was parking up. He arrived at to my flat at 1.40pm. (This bit is boring but vital, keep with me...)
A nice enough man. I showed him around and explained what needed doing. As I had clarified on the phone, I needed four photo frames put on the walls. Straight away, he did the typical 'exhale' and said, "right, I'm gonna need one of you to pop to that DIY shop up the road to pick up some nails..."
Right. Stop right there. You shittin' me? You knew the job involved putting pictures up, and yet you decided to come without pissing nails?
Is what I should have said.
No, I smiled, offered a cup of tea, took £10 out of my purse, walked 10 minutes to the pissing DIY store in where I had to spend another 10 minutes with the shop owner on the phone to my DIY dude to have him explain which nail goddam thingy he needed. I bought nails and a packet of Wotsits (for the journey and all), and marched home.
By this time, we had probably used up most of the hour.
He put the first few up, and they looked great. It was 2.25pm (remember he arrived at 1.40pm) and I said that I would only be keeping him for the hour so to not accrue more costs. This is my POLITE/BRITISH way of saying "get a move on mate, I'd like to NOT spend my entire months wage on you". He replied: "well, if you don't want to go over the hour and get charged ANOTHER £40 I better stop after this picture."
I looked at my boyfriend, he looked back at me. My face went red. He scowled.
THERE WAS ONE PICTURE LEFT. Who would leave that? It would take, what, six minutes, tops?
I turned to the guy and said, "What time did you start again?" (My very British way of reminding him he was late without actually saying it. How passive aggressive of me.)
Now, I know he didn't, you now know he didn't, he started at one bloody forty as it took him ten minutes to walk down the pissing road, and then he didn't have nails so I had to then another half hour fixing that mishap, but yet, there he was, leaving before the VERY last picture could be hung and because I am so pathetically British, I said nothing. I froze. I couldn't believe the audacity. He was late, he made me purchase (at my own expense) the rest of the tools he needed to complete the job, and now, with ten minutes already purchased and fully aware knowing there was only one more picture to hang, he was packing up. Or, as he indicated, he would overran and I would have to pay ANOTHER £40!
I took out £40 out of my wallet and pass it to him. His reply still irritates the hell out of me, "actually, we agreed £45 for the first hour."
So we did.
There. It was easy wasn't it? I was wrong, he corrected me. Why couldn't I had done the same earlier, or, even now, why couldn't I had said "so it was, and you also arrived at 1.40pm, so could you be a love and finish the job?"
But I couldn't. I didn't. I just stood there, gormless, and got another £5 out of my purse.
How typically British of me.
Follow Gina Lyons on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ginalyons