Monday, June 11, 2007

Vacuum Man

Two years ago, I bought an inexpensive vacuum cleaner. I think it cost me $76 at Walmart and as vacuum cleaners go, it lives up to its' office. It sucks up dirt. It is bagless - a personal preference. It is easy to replace a belt and to clean the filters. Not a big deal. I've been happy.

Not too long ago, could have been me, could have been my daughter, we vacuumed up something that must have been damp. My inexpensive vacuum cleaner didn't like that and started to smell bad. Icky damp rug dirt yucky. Ewwwwww.

Rather than going to buy a new cleaner, I thought I'd take it to a local repair shop in Leesburg, VA. How much could it really cost? Maybe get some new filters in it, get it nice and clean. I had the day off, so I took it in.

Vacuum Man (not his real name, but his superhero, possibly his Bizzaro, alter-ego) was in the back room. Doubtless repairing the thousands and thousands of broken cleaners that keep him fiscally solvent. I explained my need; just want it cleaned, thanks a bunch, new filters, etc. He went out to the car to carry the smelly beast in.

Vacuum Man unwound the cord and plugged it in. "Do you know how to turn it on?"

Of course, that should have been my first clue. "Uhm, that big red button in the back that says "power", I think." "Oh, yeah. Now I see it." He turned it on, and sure enough, it smelled yucky.

"Yep, you're right. You probably aren't going to want to hear this, but," as he moved toward the floor models. Hmmmm. Wasn't just nasty vacuum cleaner I was smelling. "You'd be just better off buying a new machine. I got one here for $119. Got good suction, does a great job." He took the time to unwind the cord, plug it in. I noted he had no problem finding the power button on that machine.

"Thanks, but I don't like bags." As a reason not to buy, it was weak, but if this guy wanted to throw me a deal, I'd talk. That's when he turned on his particular brand of Paleolithic-like charm. "Uh, why?" I didn't hesitate. "Let's say I'm home and I run out of bags, I can't vacuum until I buy a bag. I don't like the inconvenience."

"Snort." Nice. A man who worships at the altar of Jack-asserie. Not a newbie either. Most likely, a daily communicant. Vacuum Man's disdain for the foolishness of women started to trickle out of his nose. Surprising, since I'm willing to bet that 98% of his business comes from the fairer sex. "Yeah, like that's a big inconvenience. So keep some on hand, is it that hard?"

You kidding me?

Not my point, Vacuum Man and my hackles are rising. He clearly just wanted to sell me one of his cleaners. "Hold up, girl," my inner Catholic said, "Don't overreact. Was this just a poor attempt at lightheartedness?" I rolled the theory around in my brain testing it for quality. His remarks had an acidic feel. I was pretty sure he was not trying to be playful. "OK, so I got this one over here, blah blah blah blah blah for $150."

Tired of the game, I said, "To tell you the truth, I don't want to spend that much on a vacuum cleaner today." The people pleaser in me started to consider the $119 model, but I really didn't like the bag and I really didn't like the price. "Especially when I can buy the same one at Walmart for $76."

Your move Vacuum Man.

He moved alright. On the defensive he said, "Can Walmart give you the same service I can give you, cleaning it up for you and servicing it for life like I can?" All the while treating me like a stupid eff-stick, isn't that right, Vacuum Man? I added that last little bit for him in my head. Don't kid yourselves, this guy dropped arrogance and nastiness by the hot steamy pantload.

Instead, I parried, "Are you open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week like Walmart, where, let me say again I can buy my vacuum cleaner for a lot less?"

I'm the first to admit that I have an inner little person, who comes right from my Dad's side of the family, that isn't going to take much crap from people when it comes to my money or treating me like an idiot. Mr. Brilliant here was two for two. I'm happy to give the a person my business and send business that way if I am treated right and fair. This guy lost me a while back.

Maybe you like roughing up the girls Vacuum Man, maybe it works on some hapless female and she backs down and buys your stupid machines without shopping around. I don't play that way.

Attempting to shame me in good therapeutic community fashion, Vacuum Man retorted, "I'm open 6 days out of 7. Are you so incapable of managing your BAG needs, that you can't handle that? It's not ENOUGH for you? The independent guy really likes your kind of business lady. Whatever." In a somewhat dismissive manner, he takes out a paper to take my order to clean the machine.

"What are you going to charge me to clean it?" I'd still give him my business if it were less than $20.

"About $90," looking me in the eye as if to justify his pathetic position, he saw my eyebrows shoot up. "I gotta take it all apart, and clean it up and put it back together." His eyes said, "And you are too stupid to understand that it will cost me $3 to do that and I'm still going to charge you $90, beyotch."

I was done. "No thanks. I'm not going to spend $90 on a cleaning. And let me tell you something else, I probably would have bought the $119 vacuum cleaner if you hadn't been so aggressive with me. AND," as I started to wind up the cord of my sad smelly cleaner, "I don't appreciate being made to feel like I have to apologize to you, when you have treated me as poorly as you have!"

Vacuum Man bravely walked into the back room. I started out toward the door. Our exchange was finished. Or so I thought.

"Would you take it for $110?" he cried from his position of strength.

No longer able to stomach the sweet fragrance of desperation, I kept walking. The man must have thought I had no brains and little back bone if he actually thought that I would do business with him again in my lifetime.

An elderly woman passed me on the way out. I heard Vacuum Man bleat, "Have a nice life! Look out lady," he jeered to the poor elderly woman who had no part in our repartee, "I guess I'm in A BAD MOOD!" He shouted this at the end to make sure I could hear him.

I went to Walmart, found my same vacuum cleaner for $49.95, bought 2 fans, some Brita water filters, and a 12 pack of paper towels for less than $119, thank you very much Vacuum Man. I will be sure to tell all my friends about your issue-laden sales-pitch, fella.

Good day sir.



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