David says: 

No. In case you were wondering...that image isn't our RV. It's a thing designed by Debbie Travis.

This entry is about the joys of renovating an RV. Okay...OUR RV.

We are trying to get only two things done to our RV prior to picking it up sometime in April. Initially, we wanted solar panels and a state of the art radio to replace the vehicle's ancient cassette tape unit. We also wanted to be able to plug an iPod or our Sirius radio receiver into the existing sound system.

Does that sound too complicated?

We've been working on getting this done for four months already. The tale has gone something like this. Here's the Reader's Digest version (lucky you!):

1) We telephone the dealership and explain that we'd like solar panels and a kickass sound system installed prior to the pick-up date.

2) They respond that one solar panel and one battery will be sufficient and quote a price double the American national debt for the sound system. I revise my expectations. I tell them I will be content with the solar panels and a radio with an input so we can plug our iPod and Sirius radio into the existing sound system.

3) THEY respond...after close to a month...that the first guy who made the estimate didn't really know what he was talking about and that we should have two panels and two batteries. And they include a CD player in their estimate.

A CD PLAYER??? Nope. I write back and tell them this was not what I wanted. Take out the CD player. Put in a basic radio unit that we can use to access the existing system with an iPod and our Sirius unit.

4) They respond...after three weeks...with a quote that removes the CD player as well as the radio and covers the solar panels only. They have also included a second quote to tell me how much this job would be without the discounts they have granted. Still no radio.

PAUSE IN THE GRIPPING NARRATIVE: The greatest lesson I ever learned about diplomacy came to me from the classic Patrick Swayze  movie "Roadhouse." In this movie Patrick is king of the nightclub "coolers" training a crew of bouncers. He tells them "Be nice. Until it's time NOT to be nice."

Since I am frequently a little too brusque in my dealings with humans, I have tried to live by this credo.

I decide it's time NOT to be nice and write a blistering email, detailing my frustration and telling the offending party, reiterating my story, telling them CLEARLY (again) what I want and closing with the warning that if I don't hear back from them in 24 hours, I will assume they aren't interested in our business.

I hit "Send" with just a speck of pride in an email well done. It's not nasty. It's clear. And pissed. I wait for the phone to ring and fantasize that on the other end will be suitably chastened RV guy.

I wait the requisite 24 hours...and then 12 hours more. My toe taps frequently during this time period.

The phone doesn't ring.

SO I call them and get the guy on the line.

"Did you get my email?" I ask.

"Yes," says he. "I passed it onto ***" (Someone else) to respond." (The *** are designed to hide the true identity of the 'other guy'...for the moment. Suffice it to say that this 'other guy' is the one who made the initial quote with only one panel and one battery. The first guy told me that he didn't know what the *** guy was thinking of...since one battery wouldn't be enough for us. Got it? Me neither...and I was there.)

"I didn't hear from anyone," I say.

There is a pause while he processes this information. "I passed it onto ***" (the guy) he tells me again.

"You told me that *** didn't know what he was talking about and that one battery would not have been enough," I remind hm.

There's a pause. "It was a clerical error," he tells me.

"A what?" I ask.

"A clerical error. He meant to put down two. But he wrote one."

It's my turn to pause. Huh? I sigh.

"So where is ***?" I ask.

"He's on a buying trip," I am assured. "He'll be back Monday."

By coincidence *** and the owner of the dealership both have the same name but are (probably) probably different people.

"So I guess I'll hear from *** and *** on Monday?" I ask. The clever strategy here is to subtly let this guy know that I've left a message for his boss.

"I guess so," he says.

The conversation lurches to a stop and my indignation falls corpse-like to the ground and lies there sighing listlessly.

I sigh, say goodbye and hang up.

What can you do?

Tomorrow's Monday. My foot is already tapping.



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