Saturday, June 14, 2008

Getting Paid For Work Done

This week in the comic strips Dilbert has been highlighting the plight of a small company doing business with a large company. T.F. Stern & Company is a one horse operation; I like to tell folks that it simplifies things when someone wants to complain about the fellow who came out and screwed up, doesn’t happen very often.

I did some residential work for a realty company many years ago, a house that needed some work after having been abandoned. I was in the middle of changing out the locks when a woman in curlers, a night robe and fuzzy slippers came marching across the street demanding to know what I was up to.

I explained in rather point blank fashion how stupid she was, “Lady, if I was a bad guy you’d be dead by now.” I handed her my business card and told her next time she suspected something was wrong to call the police. That must have angered her as she called my office. Lucy answered the phone and explained how this “new guy” would be reprimanded for being rude; I got a kick out of that one.

I did some locksmith work for a medium sized oil company, big enough to have their own multi-storied building. When it came time to get paid the receptionist signed the work order and explained how the person who writes the checks wasn’t available and to leave it with her. Each time I’d call to remind them about the due bill I got the run around; this went on for a few months.

Not to be out done I waited until they had a board meeting, all their top executives gathered around a spacious table in a room almost as big as my house. I walked past the receptionist and barged into their meeting holding my due bill. I wish I’d brought my camera to catch the looks on their faces as they tried to hide their embarrassment.

“I’m not leaving until I get paid”, does wonders when spoken at precisely the right moment. The fellow who wrote and handed me the check explained that I’d never get any more work from them. “Is that a promise?”

Last on the list goes all the way back to when I first got started in the locksmith business. I’d been called to a small “mom and pop” car lot to make keys for a Ford product, a simple job that I was quite adept at. The owner noticed how young I looked and questioned my abilities while I continued to fashion an “impression key” for the door lock.

While observing my skills the key took form and worked as it should. I guess he was sufficiently reassured I was up to the task of then making the ignition key as he disappeared somewhere behind the other side of the building. When I was finished with the set of keys I went to the office with my bill.

“Mr. Frost is out right now, just leave me the bill and I’ll have him send you a check.”

“I have a better idea; as soon as I get that check I’ll send you these keys.” Mr. Frost came out of his office snorting and stammering all kinds of pleasantries. I may have looked like I’d just fallen off the turnip truck; but Mr. Frost figured out real quick that he wasn’t getting a free set of keys that day, at least not from me.

No comments: