The framer

29 July 2007

Expensive people are better than cheap people.
Quite logical, isn’t it? I pay for craftsmanship, a neat finish, accuracy and certain guidelines in dealing with me, the customer. When paying for a service or purchase I don’t want too much interference from the selling or serving individual. The salesman or staff member himself is only a tool between me and the desired gadget, or between me and the wanted service. And that ‘tool’ should not disturb the joy (or necessity) of a purchase in the form of a … body odor, unclarity about the course of the events, a distracting ulcer on the lip or crankiness. The job of a salesperson is only to get the customer and the gadget together. A smooth transaction is included in the price.
Not too difficult, right?

So, we looked for someone who could frame my paintings.
The found framer did a nice job. A little to the slow side, but maybe that was normal in this country.
The man himself was very timid and polite. That was okay, personally I’m not long-winded in conversation too, so that was matching fine. And as a bonus his prizes were very reasonable.

After 2 successful orders, the 3rd fell through. The timid framer could not deliver a certain frame and his embarrassment was apparent by not daring to inform us about this fact. We visited him 3 times, asking about the progress. He replied: “Yes, I will call the wholesaler again.”
And we never heard anything from him …
Okay, that can happen. Perhaps we are the kind of customers you’d rather don’t want.

The next framer was located in a busy shopping street with logically higher prizes He was cheerful and easy-going. His unsolicited statement about how much money he monthly need to earn to be able to rent his shop, wasn’t particularly necessary info for me (we all suffer from life), but hey, everybody has his little rants. I have them too. It’s like sneezing.
This framer also was significantly faster in delivery. The fact that the invoice suddenly was a bit higher than we had agreed, we devoted to the matter that we happen to be very good at drawing a straight face when someone calls his price. We might give the impression that it didn’t sound too bad for us. Or that we didn’t hear the price at all. Perhaps we need to work on that.
For now we shrugged our shoulders because in the Netherlands we were used to even higher prices. So. We ordered him to create 8 frames more.

We would screw in the paintings by ourselves, so we agreed a ‘pick 8 and pay for 7 deal’. The framer himself already did the haggling (with himself) for us. I suspected a sliver of guilt about the higher invoice.
“But you need to drill the holes for us” we extra underlined.
“Yeah, of course, I will drill the holes. That’s part of the job”, he said.
“And getting all these frames to our home … how do we do that? They are pretty big, huh?”, we tried.
“Yeah no worries, we work that out. I will look around to see if someone has a van. I’ll pack them well in bubble wrap. It will be alright”.
Great. I love the words “It will be alright”. I myself rarely use them because I always see problems everywhere.

After a week the order was ready. Luckily just in time we saw the requested holes were not drilled. “But, said the framer … that was because it was easier to drill the holes if the paintings were attached”.
That indeed would be easier. For him. Because the attaching should be done by us … Remember?
“And did you think about the carriage?”
“No, no way.”
“What no way?!”
It is surprising how one day the same words can have a totally different meaning than the other day.
Well … okay, we are no dickheads. Maybe we could organize an roof rack ourselves. We would come back the next day to tie the largest frames on top of the car. In the meantime ‘could Mr. Framer ensure that everything was wrapped in that bubble foil he talked about?’
“Well, umm … bubble foil is very expensive, you know. Then I need many meters of wrapping”, he replied.

I gave him an intense (and quite long) mean look. With all the bitterness that I could find in myself. Hoping that my eyes hurt him.
To that list of expensive demands at the top of this story, from now one I also want to see ‘pride’. Believe me, I want to pay for the pride of a salesman!
Our last request was to make the promised drill holes. Of course we could do it ourselves, but he has a huge working table, a spacious studio and certainly a lot more experience in measurement. We, however, had to do such a job on a carpet full of dog hair, between the pushed aside furniture. I’d rather he makes the errors, than we do. And -a small thingie- finally it was part of the deal, right?
He disappeared, loud grumbling into his workshop, his hands raised. We waited a while. Maybe he was interrupted by a ringing phone, or something?
But there was silence in the workshop.
He didn’t return to say g’bye. Or to say ‘see you tomorrow’.
Speechless we looked at each other.
We shouted goodbye, but no answer came, so we left.

The next day we drove to the framer again. With a roof rack on our car. The key in my back was turned up to the limit. I was ready to shoot.
He came to us with a red stained face and waved with his hand that we had to come inside the workshop …


Two large frames on the roof rack

The night before he had drilled the holes all wrong!
He realized this just after drilling the very last frame and then almost had burst in tears. He had filled them all in with putty, sanded and repainted the spots and was busy until late at night. Early in the morning he drilled the holes again, in the right place. The repainted spots were barely visible, and he asked if it was okay with us. Frankly, I thought a painting would exactly cover them, so I did not mind.
And, they were all packed up … !!!

So, now I know I really can shoot a killing stare! Good to know.