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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why small businesses are losing to big businesses

Sketch a day #9  - 45 min.
This is a sketch of my upper window in my greatroom.  The room is two stories high, so there are upper and lower windows in the room.  You see a bannister in the foreground, because I am actually sitting in a room on the second floor to draw it.  The house is three stories high in the back, so in order for a ladder to be outside this window, it has got to be pretty tall.  Fire-fighter tall.  It is still not tall enough for the guy repairing the woodpecker holed trim to get where he needs to reach, so he is also propelling down from the roof to get to a certain area.

This job is driving me nuts! First, tomorrow will be two weeks since he quoted the job. Second he said it would be done by Tuesday... last Tuesday... It is now Thursday of the week after. Finally, as is true with most jobs, he didn't stick with the original quote.  As of right now, $400 to replace two pieces of trim 30-ish foot high from chimney top to ground has turned into $627.  In his defense, hubby added a small job of fixing some rotted wood on a door frame... but based on his quote for the big job, he charged an exorbitant amount for the smaller job comparatively.

My biggest problem is that I feel tied to the house for the duration of his "job".  While I may have said "OK" if he had quoted $500 or $600 dollars for the job, because it is a scary and difficult job, I would not have said OK to "I'm gonna come and go over the course of two weeks.  I will tell you I will be back tomorrow, but I'm going to leave this tall ladder leaning against your house for days on end, and when I feel like finishing, I will.  I would have said.. OK, I will call you... and then I would not call.  Seriously.

Appropriate book choice
I feel like too many people do bad business. They under-quote jobs and then raise the price because they want to make sure they get in... but I would have gladly paid the higher amount or a little more for a proper quote and the person sticking to it. If something unexpected had come up like termite damage, or a bees nest (which was my fear), then I would understand them telling me that they need to give me a secondary quote, of which I would have also gotten a second opinion, but this kind of bad business is stupid because it means you won't be called back.

And this is why mom and pop businesses are losing dollars to the big box businesses.  I have more work to do around the house.  I need to have my garage door repaired.  I also need the gutters repaired and have screens put in them, but chances are, I will now have Home Depot come do the work and not this guy.  Sure they will cost me more, with all the Home Depot overhead and all, but I want a quote that the contractor will stick by and I also want the work done in a timely manner, is that too much to ask?


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Through our own lenses

sketch a day - day 8 -30min
Today I sketched my eyeglasses.  They are sitting on my pencil case. They are cute but uncomfortable and I don't wear them like I should. One lens is thicker than the other, and so in those lightweight wire frames, they don't really sit right.  Since my eyesight out of the other eye is pretty good, I can get away without the glasses at all, but the other eye compensates. I have to hunt down my glasses and put them on when my eye starts twitching or when I get a headache from not wearing them as it causes eyestrain.  I have been warned that if I don't start wearing them all the time my lazy eye will become more and more apparent and even lazier, but I still don't.  I am planning on getting a new pair with a better weight balance...  Don't know how they will do it, but it is what I will ask for.

I chose eyeglasses for my image today because after yesterday's encounter with the cashier I began thinking about how we view others. You know that old saying about there is always three sides to a story?  His, hers, and the truth? I have decided to apply that information to yesterday's circumstance.

If I think about it she may be viewing me through the lens of someone who has to be wise about every cent she spends, and based on her overall look and apparent level of classiness... maybe even newly divorced, this may even be new to her. Maybe she has embraced a level of thriftiness for survival sakes... and she wants to share this with me to help me do better.
an appropriate book suggestion

There's also the possibility of her just viewing me through the lenses of a cashier. Perhaps she sees so many people that look like me day in and day out using government assistance that my deviation from the norm threw her off?

I may be viewing her "helpfulness" through the lens of someone who people OFTEN assume needs a handout, or help of some kind... even though that is not my experience. After so many years of people offering me work as ... a maid, a cashier, a secretary, etc, because "I seem like such a nice person", I have become weary of all the lowly offerings (not to disregard anyone with those jobs) but why not ask me what I am capable of doing, or my education, and offering a commensurate job?  People always assume I have no experience, or no... anything, and offer to help me based on low expectations. So yes, I am defensive.  And then they seem offended when I inform them that I need NONE of those things.

Based on the way she greeted me when I swept through the grocery store this morning, for just a couple of items, the truth might just be that she was trying to be friendly. Based on the "heeeeyyyy Gurrrrlll", that she directed at me, there is something about me that she likes, but has no idea how to approach me correctly.  And for me, perhaps, I need to find a way to correct the unwarranted comments in a gentle and instructional manner so that we can embrace instead of butting heads.

But sometimes... you just want to leave in a huff... foggy lenses and all!



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I think I got welfare shamed and I'm not on welfare

Sketch a day - day 7
I went to the grocery store for two reasons... lunch, and cash-back. Cash back is awesome because I don't have to pay atm fees to spend my money, and since I had to pay the dude repairing the woodpecker holes in my house today, I needed cash. (I probably won't use him again, with one of the reasons being he doesn't take checks.  Who wants to go to get cash two days in a row to get enough money to pay someone?)

Anyway, I said to the cashier I need $100 cash back, is that possible? She replied, the max is $50, but I can split your bill. Cool.. Cool.  So she rang up my bill with a few things left on the conveyor belt.

As I went fishing in my wallet for my debit card she got annoyed.  I was trying to find the right debit card, for our joint account, since I didn't want to take it from my main shopping account because most of the money was for house repairs.

She replied in an annoyed voice... "that's a lot of cards".  I apologized.  "They are all for different things", I said.  "Well, I don't know what anyone needs all those cards for".  I was so caught off guard, I started explaining. "Well, I have joint cards for each kids account, they are in college.  And I have a joint account with my husband. And I have the card I use for most purchases, groceries and stuff, and then I have one credit card", I explained, feeling flushed.... as if it were any of her business.  "Well" she huffed", I only have one card, I don't have enough money for all those cards, but a little is better than nothing!" I started to explain again, and then realized how ridiculous I was being, I paid for my second half of the purchase, got my other $50 cash back and left.

It is nobody's business how many debit or credit cards I have. It is nobody's business how much money I do or don't have. And I should not feel guilty or ashamed for what I have or how it works for me.  It is my money and it is my system. It works for me.

This isn't the first time I have felt attacked by this particular cashier.  Over the summer I purchased pre-cubed watermelon.  Sure I could have purchased a whole watermelon, but I didn't want to deal with it.  She chastised me for not making the more economical choice and that the pre-cut watermelon was a lot more per pound.  I felt so convicted (bad) that I purchased a whole watermelon the next time... and guess what, most of it was yucky... unevenly ripe.  I would have gotten a much better bargain buying it pre-cut, seeing how much I tossed out.

I will be avoiding this cashier from now on.

Before her, and when my kids were younger, there was another such cashier.  She would tell me that I needed to get a job every time I saw her.  "The manager is here, she would say, you'd be a great cashier".  "I'm good", I would reply, but she would keep insisting. It bothered her that I clearly did not have a job and was spending what she though was a lot of money at the grocery store.  Surely, I needed a job, right?

So what gives?

I am being made to feel just like those people others shame for using a EBT (food stamps) card for buying what they think is excessive, only I don't use any of those cards, and my husband makes good money which I manage well, and I can afford to feed us well, most of the time.  Still, I am being treated the exact same as those people.

Maybe it is because I don't dress up and look rich.  I look like the average joe-schmo always dressing casually, and when I go to the grocery, I often dress like I'm homeless! (I don't really know how a homeless person dresses)  If I am cooking or cleaning, or just took a nap, I just roll out in whatever I had on.. so is that why they are judging me?  Do they think that there is no way I am getting this money I am spending honestly?  Do they think they need to remind me to be more careful with money, because they don't think I have any or should have any?

I don't know, but it befuddles me.

I'm going to have to be rude and put a stop to it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

What I probably do best, but not what I want to keep doing

Sketch a day- day 6
I was busy today updating my computer with the next mac version and then trying to get back photos from when my computer died... I think my daughter's sweet 16 photos are gone... going to try to snipe a photo or two from people who were there.

My sketch today is something I do naturally and often.  It is a sketch of my bedroom floorpan.  It is a stupid room.  The most obvious place for a bed, between two windows is under a vent and right next to the bathroom.  I don't like that.  There is a huge sitting area with a slated ceiling like a huge dormer.  My bed is there now, top photo, but I have been bored with it.

The biggest problem is where the cable jack is is also stupid... on the wall behind the couch in the upper photo and so I can't really see that from anywhere that it makes sense to put the bed.

It is an enormous room really, just poorly planned.  The people across the street actually took half the area where we put the bed and but a wall creating an extra closet (for him) leaving only a little bump out on the side for two chairs.. it does look nice, but once again, I don't want to hear every time hubby flushes the toilet from my bed.  I guess I could have bigger problems though.

The lower photo is how I am thinking about changing it... putting the desk armoire in my bedroom and the couch in front of the TV... but we do like to watch tv in bed, so there's that dilemma.

This is a very messy sketch, but in it is my biggest strength.  I have a great grasp of scale. I can look at a piece of furniture and know it is going to fit in a room... i don't even need a measuring tape.  I just know.  I can draw a room to scale without graph paper, and still get it right.  I have a similar skill for color.... I can look at a sofa, go to the store and bring back coordinating fabric without a swatch.  I still gladly do floorplans for friends with decorating dilemma's and help pick fabric, but my own bedroom has me stymied.

Yes, I did do interior design work in a former life... when we lived in New Orleans, and also the year following that when I was just outside of NY, waiting for my husband to change jobs because I kept getting sick in New Orleans.

I gave that up to do murals,  (I still do on occasion, about one a year) but also slowly gave that up when I started homeschooling.  I began writing about decorating for websites which did very well for a while,  I even had a homeschooling column or two, but citizen journalism died hard... and now I have come full circle, trying to find my artistic fit.   I could go back to decorating, but I don't really feel called to it... it just comes naturally.  I am ready for the art gallery in my heart.