About 5 years ago, we had the house done.
Walls knocked down. Extreme stuff. Everything was bashed, moved about, re-skimmed and made right again.
We spent a lot of money.
Towards the end, we had this new space above the cooker. I wanted a very precisely made rail that could be screwed to the wall in 6 places. So it was held firmly. And it had to have 20 S-shaped cast iron hooks too, to hold many pans.
Google helped me to find a small cast iron forger chap. He quoted £150. Away we went.
The house refurbishment took longer. Cost more. Stressed us more. They always do.
We had to cut back on a few things. But with something like this, once you’re in – you’re in!
Anyhow, pretty much on time and looking pretty good, the pan rail thing arrived. It was wrapped in old newspapers covered in big, back, carbon fingerprints. It was a charming thing. A hand written invoice for £150 clung around the ironwork too.
There was a wooden plinth waiting for it and it fitted.
Two days later, I received a text message. It was the iron chap. He asked, in a short and misspelled text message, if we had received the ironwork. And when he’d be paid.
“Two days.” I thought. “It’s only been two fucking days.”
I was being asked similar questions by plasterers, joiners, plumbers, painters and decorators.
I was looking for ways to save money not spend money.
Too busy to send a text back, I hit ‘call’.
A quietly spoken man answered and I thanked him for the rail. He didn’t mention the request for payment but did apologise for the noise in the background.
He explained that he was a farmer and that he did a bit of what he had loved to do years before every now and then. Metal forging. To make a bit of extra money for the family.
He then said, unprompted, that if £150 was too much, I could pay him less if I wanted. And he suggested (I think) “something like £100”.
Excellent! I’d been trying to save money right left and centre.
So I thought about this guy, miles away, that I didn’t even know, that I’d never even meet, that had just given me the opportunity to save money. And I had a really excellent rail that was hand made, worked perfectly and was worth £200 at least!
This guy really didn’t understand business. Underpricing product, exposing his vulnerability as a businessman and as a family also.
I seized the opportunity to do what was best for me as a man and my family.
And sent him £200.