I had a call at a rundown boxy home near the downtown area of Brisbane. I was met outside by a large, hunched over white haired man wearing a filthy carpenter-type denim onesie. I was trying to park on his concrete front yard area and he tried to guide me by making exaggerated motions and I realized quickly that the man was a bit off as the volume of his voice was exceedingly loud and his Russian accent so strong that I had to strain to understand him.
It was a bright, sunny afternoon and I winced as I noticed how dark and dank his tiny home was. I followed him in and, as feared, entered a dark, dirty and stinky living room. The place smelled of unkempt dog and the carpet was covered in dog hair, clearly never vacuumed.
The man went on and on that his wife had died and he was trying to fix up his house because he was hosting a visiting relative soon. The small windows were covered in pieces of sheets and the small space was chock full of about five different hutches, filled with porcelain figurines and glass do-dads – his, or his late wife’s treasures. The hutches were randomly set about and along with the smell, the man himself and the nightmare it would be for installers, I just wrote a high number on my card and hightailed it out of there as diplomatically and quickly as I could.
I was assigned a call in the heart of the Mission and was met by an old Hispanic woman, perhaps 78, wearing slippers and a nightie under a robe at 2 p.m. She led me past a car in a garage to her three room, sub ground living space beyond the garage. She was very quiet and slow to move, so I tried to be as similar in my approach to her as I could. Her entire place was full of religious items – pictures and figurines of Jesus were everywhere, along with sayings in both English and Spanish. There were beads and candles and posters, etc. I set out three samples (the good/better/best offering) and she seemed to enjoy stroking the different types. She settled on a thicker style and chose an interesting deep purple color. I explained that that color would be much different from her current faded green, but she wanted it. Fortunately that style was on sale, so she got it for a lower price than the other ones of lesser quality. I gave her the lowest price that my company would allow, even if it would mean next to no commission for me. As I left I tried to see if I could generate any excitement for her new carpet that was to get installed in a few days by asking her how great that will be and she responded simply with a nice smile.