A man and a woman enter a carpet store, it is obvious who is in charge. She is short, squat, and loud when she moves. The man is timid, and does as he is told. They have had some trouble with this store in the past. She intends to raise hell.
“Good day, how may I help you?” the man at the counter asks.
“Is Brian here?” She seems very pleasant… to the untrained eye.
“I just got off the phone with him, he should be here in a half an hour. He was on Rt. 4 when I talked to him. What was your name?” He directs his question to the man.
“Smythe.” The woman answers. This is shown by the box of wooden flooring in their home marked ‘Smythe.’ It is surprising to see your name on something sometimes that you yourself did not put it on.
“Very good, make yourself at home, is there anything I can help you with?” He was trained to be polite.
“Where is your bathroom?” Mr. Smythe asks.
“At the end of the building, on the right.”
The building is mostly open, cluttered by tiles, rolls of carpets, the whole lot. A sort of showroom-warehouse-laminate. I just like the world laminate.
It is not quite half an hour before Brian arrives. But to the Smythes, it is long enough. Mes. Smythe is muttering, Mr. Smythe nervously jerking until she commands him to ‘stop that!’ When Brian does arrive, he immediately goes to the back of the store to talk to his employee. He is of medium build, height, with hairy arms, styled hair, and a five-o-clock shadow. He has dark, quick eyes, and strongly defined features.
“Are you the Smythes?” “Yes, are you Brian?” She says, picking up.
“Yes, what seems to be the trouble?”
“Well, we were informed by Jason that we would be able to move back in today. We just had a look at his progress and we don’t think that it looks too good. The water is still off and he was wanting to redo the entire kitchen, but we can’t afford to eat out or stay in a hotel any longer.”
“It was my understanding that he would have it done today, he wanted to put the toe strips in and you say you didn’t want that?”
“That’s correct, he was also thinking about putting in the shoes. I have some pictures… and… this space here, this is behind the refrigerator.” He voice goes up, requiring some sort of reply.
“Mm-hmm.” Is all she gets.
“This is about a two-inch gap, looking straight down, and the base boards wouldn’t cover that.”
“That’s why he wanted to use the tow strips.”
“Right. But we decided we didn’t like the look of that, right, hon?”
“Yes.” Mr. Smythe’s first contribution to Brian. He senses a further opening. “Here are some pictures from yesterday morning. The water is off, and they had urinated in our toilet without being able to flush.”
“The entire apartment smells.” She interjects.
“R-right,” fumbling with his words, not used to persuasive speaking, or any other kind, “a-and this is our cabinet, about, oh, fifteen years old.” Brian can’t seem to see the image, turns is around in his hand, or at least pretending it is too fuzzy. “This is the base, and here is the top, see, and that’s the scratch. Also, on Friday, we came home to find our window open, the lights on, and the back door unlatched, and yesterday…” showing another picture, picking up confidence as he does speed “it was unlatched again, and one of our lights was on.”
“And that,” she interrupts “is my money being wasted. I provided them with a fan, which I found on a breezy day pointing out the back door, just blowin’ all over!” She waves her small arms frantically to exaggerate the action.
“Mhm. I apologize, Jason’s one of my best workers, I never get any complaints, but again I apologize for the mess and the inconvenience and all.” After several more minutes of this, Jason walks through the door. He is skinny, with a goatee, and a smirking feigned sincerity.
“What’s up?” He casually asks.
“Did you put the shoes on without asking them first?”
“I had ’em set up to, but they didn’t want ’em, that’s what I heard.”
“I said to talk it over with them first.”
“I didn’t hear you say that but okay, whatever.” He seems to be straining from rolling his eyes.
“Look, is the mess cleaned up?”
“Yeah, but does your toilet run?” he asks, turning to the Smythes.
“Well, uh, what do you mean?” Mr. Smythe stumbles, trying to think.
“Well, it’s not overflowing or anything, but I think it won’t stop running.” He explains.
“Probably just the ball.” Brian knowingly adds nearly under his breath. He is clearly annoyed at Jason’s shoddy attitude and juvenile work. “Okay, I’ll be willing to go halfway with you on new base boards. Thick, you know.”
“I know, it’s not your fault, you have a business to run and you’ve already shelled out money from your own pocket.” She appears to change her tune. “I hope I’m not being unreasonable.”
“No, no, it’s your home, I mean, I wouldn’t want my home messed up.” Stopping to think. “Jason–”
“How much would new baseboards run?”
“Uh, Idunno, per square foot? I’d have to go check.”
“Okay.” He considers. “Could you just put slivers in there and glue ’em?”
“Yeah, but if you’re worried about aesthetics, you might want to just do the new baseboards” he bullshits.
“How long would it take to redo the floor in the kitchen? How many planks?”
“Precision-cut everything?”
“Yes, precision-cut. How many?”
“Pfft, Idunno, six, maybe seven. A whole day’s work.”
“We need to move back in today.” Mrs. Smythe reiterates, attempting to wrest back control of the conversation.
The phone rings. A man in the back picks it up.
“Do you want me to come look at the damage?” Brian asks.
“Yeah, that would help.” Mrs. Smythe is happy to win any customer service battle, no matter how small.
“I need directions. Jason, you want to drive on down with me?”
“Nah, I gotta get back, but I’ll get you directions.
“We’ll go on ahead.” The Smythes move to leave.
“Okay, I’ll see you in a few.” Brian calls to them. Jason’s watch goes off but he doesn’t seem to notice.
The Smythes get to their car.
“I could have used your support in there. Instead of hiding.” She says with much disdain. Mr. Smythe does not answer, as anything he would say would be wrong.
Back inside, Jason finishes giving Brian the directions, then heads for the bathroom.
“Thanks for calling, have a nice day” the man in the back hangs up.
“See you later, Phil!” Brian yells as he attaches his watch and coat.
“Have a good one.”
“Lock up when you’re done, Phil.”


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