Jewish World Review June 14, 2001 / 24 Sivan, 5761
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- I’D been through this painting-with-furniture-in-the-house business before and I swore that this time I wouldn’t let the painters tear the whole joint apart. At least not all at once. This time it would be done systematically. They would paint one room at a time and they wouldn’t go on to another room until they had finished the room that they were working in -- including cleaning up and replacing all doorknobs, latches, switch-plates and whatever else they took off. Makes perfect sense to me, but painters see things a little differently then normal people.
In painters’ logic it works like this: First you go into the customer’s house and move everything from the rooms they happen to be in, into rooms where those items don’t belong -- like bedroom night stands into the laundry room, dish-packs into the bedrooms, and living room floor lamps into the bathroom. That way you have eliminated any chance whatsoever of the customer finding anything at all for at least two weeks -- this will, of course, confuse and addle the customer and give you, the painter, the upper hand.
Next, take all the stuff in each room -- if it’s upholstered furniture, turn it upside-down; if it’s lamps, take them apart in as many pieces as you possibly can; if it’s boxes marked “books” be sure they are placed on top of boxes marked “fragile.” Then stack everything on top of each other in the middle of the room and throw a drop-cloth over the entire mess so no one knows what’s under there.
After that, remove every doorknob, drawer pull and lock you can find and hide them. Then, start the sanding, patching, and primer painting in every room of the house. Now you’ve succeeded in driving your customers completely out of their own home. Having no other place to go, they wind up sitting on rickety folding chairs out in the yard and muttering to themselves. By this time your customers are not only confused and addled, but frustrated, disoriented, and on the verge of tears. You have them exactly where you want them -- at your mercy.
Always start the job with about six workers on the first day -- not only does that make a great impression by giving the customers a false sense that the job might actually get done in the allotted period of time, but it will enable you to mix up and move all their furniture around the house more quickly. Be sure to eliminate one worker with each consecutive day until you get down to only two guys that don’t speak a word of English. Start several jobs and keep switching your workers around from job to job, so that no one knows who exactly was there the day before. If anything goes wrong, or if your customers have any complaints, you can always blame it on the guys who weren’t there that day.
Keep your cell phone with you at all times, and have it ring continually so you can talk on it as you walk through the customers’ house when they attempt to confront you with mistakes or sloppy work. Hey, you’re a busy guy and you can’t listen to two conversations at once. Soon your customers will be worn down and will stop asking for repainting and corrections.
Now that you’ve seized control of the house, start taking over your customers’ last bastion of refuge, the backyard. On the first day you carved out a “mixing the paint area” out there -- be sure that little area expands a bit more every day until it takes up at least half of the covered patio. Fill up huge brown trash bags with debris and pile them out in the patio. Take over as much real estate as you can.
After twelve days of this, your customers will not want any other changes, redos or touch ups. All they will want, is for you and your workers to be out of their house and out of their lives. This is fine with you, since you are now ready to move on to another house and start the entire process all over again. Your work here, with these people, is finished.
You’ve succeeded in breaking them down. Their spirit is crushed, their verve is dead, their
fight is lost, and their nerves are shot. But their house looks
JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.