Friday, January 19, 2007

It’s last Tuesday, I’m sitting in my office, and the scene outside my window is dazzling white. I’m working on the computer, being happy that I don’t have to leave my house today, when the phone rings…

Ring ring!

I weigh the wisdom of answering it at all, but it might be someone I actually want to talk to, so…

Me: Hello?
Caller: Mistress Matisse?
Me: Yes, this is she.
Caller: Yeah, how soon could you be at the Westin?

Now, that’s a question with many different answers. If I could tell Scotty to beam me there, I could arrive instantly. If I had wings and could fly, I bet I could be there in ten minutes. If my mother was there on her deathbed, I would get there very quickly even if I had to steal the neighbor’s Jeep.
But as it is, the answer for this caller is: never. Never, ever, in this lifetime, as far as you’re concerned, pal.

(Long-term readers and real-life clients will know already how outrageously rude I find it when strangers start out by just assuming I’m going to grace them with my presence merely because they wish it, and that the only point to be negotiated is when and where. Ha. There are qualifications to meeting me that go beyond the possession of a phone and a copy of The Stranger’s back pages. Mainly: I have to think I’d like you. I don’t think I’d like this man.)

And I’m not really interested in discussing this at length.

Me: No.
Caller: What?
Me: I said no.
Caller: Well, when could you be here?

Excuse me, are we having the same conversation?

Me: (very slowly) No. I am not coming to the Westin.

There’s a long pause, like he’s waiting for me to explain myself further. I don’t. With this caller’s apparent lack of listening skills, I think less is definitely more.

Caller: So you can’t come down here?

I don’t believe I used the word “can’t”. That word subtly implies a sense of constraint, and I feel perfectly at ease about not going to Westin to meet this caller. But let’s not quibble.

Me: That’s correct.

Click. He hangs up.

I go back to my work. I need to get a separate line for my good boys…

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