Day Twenty-Six: Cousteau Renovation

Paint Store Diaries

Last week I met with one of my new clients to review the furniture layouts for their new outdoor entertaining space.  Technically it would be called a deck since it is suspended in the open space (as opposed to a terrace or patio).  I borrowed some construction paper (used to protect wood flooring during construction) from the painters to make full size furniture templates so that they could see how the proposed pieces would fit in the situation.  Four large chairs, four tables, two 82" sofas (all in full size) took most the roll of paper.  Not the little sheets they use in elementary school, but the big brown rolls.  They don't give those away for free.

So I needed to replace it and get the painter's stock right.

Today I met with Omar (lead painter) over the kitchen island and we reviewed the wall and ceiling color schedule for the house.  The enamel work is nearly done so the beams, walls and ceilings are next.  After confirming the colors and their placement, I left with him on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.  It's very very hilly here and while his truck is perfectly normal, it doesn't offer the security of the Death Star.

"Well they aren't very busy" I commented after seeing the four vehicles in the parking lot.  Omar didn't agree.  He was right.  Inside, the painters and civilians (non-pro customers) were lined up three deep to be helped.  Let me say that I am terribly spoiled by the Sherwin Williams store in Richardson Texas.  No simple paint strips here.  The store is big, clean and the clerks extremely personable and eager to help.  As we moved up to the counter, the phone (which had been ringing and ringing) was answered with "hey we are really busy here and I have people waiting to place orders so I have to call YOU back". Oh boy.

One handy thing about creating paint schedules with spreadsheets is the ability to reorder the rows.  You can put all like colors together then group according to finish (flat, lo-sheen, stain, etc) and quickly create the materials list.  Omar had taken my reordered paint schedule and created a very clear list of the names, numbers, paint quality, finish and gallons needed.  As we stepped up the to counter Omar deferred to me since I only had one question: "Where are the samples for the wiping stains?  We need to select material..." but before I could get it out I got an eye roll and "we don't have any samples of stain, you're gonna have to buy the quart".  I tried to get my point across that I needed the sample chart not the actual stain, but I wasn't getting anywhere.  "Okay, just hold on a minute.  I want to see the pieces of paper you show people that are trying to decide what stain color they would like to buy."  He was not happy. Waving me off to the stains that are used for siding and decks, he turned away.  

I blame Doctor Who and all that BBC television, but when I get frustrated and need to get someone's attention, a loud "OYE" generally pulls them around and is a lot more effective than "Excuse me sir". Again I explained what I needed, he reached under the counter and put the appropriate fan deck and chart on the counter.

There were over 50 gallons of paint on Omar's list in various colors and finishes. Reviewing the list and getting the clerk to understand what we wanted was one of the most difficult purchasing experiences.  "Where are we? Eastern Europe??" came to mind but I was keeping my mouth closed.  Where you and I might buy a gallon or two of a color,  some of this material needed 15 gallons which to insure that they matched properly (google "boxing paint") we had to purchase two five gallons and five one gallon buckets.  The look the clerk gave Omar was even worse than the one that I get when I tell the kid at Wendy's that I only want three french fries. (I mean really...if that's all I"m going to eat then why insist on giving them to me.  I'm willing to pay the full 79 cents.)

As we worked through the list it became pretty clear that we were not going to be getting the material anytime soon.  Omar asked when it could be delivered but the clerk couldn't say.  So in the spirit of getting things done, Omar asked that certain colors be mixed now so that we could take them with us.  The clerk asked for the address for the delivery which required that he scratch it out and rewrite it three times since "Cousteau" is really really complicated.  I offered the zip code which also was written down wrong.  "No, it's 78746 not 78745".  I was over being pissed and had moved in the laugher of absurdity at this point and did laugh out loud.

In the coldest, malevolent voice he said "Do you think this is funny?"  "Yeah, actually I do".  I couldn't resist.  Did you ever look at someone and wonder if they used to be one of those rogue cops?  That's pretty much the idea.

He called over another clerk and asked him to "ring up this guy" referring to me and my stain selections for the Mahogany front door.  The fact that I wanted one color inside and another outside was apparently the most bizarre thing they had heard in a long time.  When clerk #2 heard "door" he immediately started explaining why I couldn't use the selected material because "you can't put poly on it".  "We aren't going to put polyurethane on this door.  Not on the outside and certainly not on the inside"  This door faces North, never see's direct sunlight and is under a very deep porch.  He started trying to explain in the most remedial way the difference in "poly, spar and lacquer".   I was really proud of myself because at  not point did I say "look you 25 year old pinhead, I've been at this since 1979".  See?  I do have restraint.

All the while Omar is going over the paint schedule again with clerk #1.  "No, you can't get that material in Satin!  Only gloss and semi-gloss"  "But I have painted many gallons of it already at the house and it is satin".  Clerk #1 insisted that Omar was wrong.  Omar called Isaiah and asked him to read off what was on the red can which, of course, said Satin.  To prove Omar wrong, clerk #1 goes into the back and grabs a can of untinted painted.  But before he gets back upfront, he sees that indeed the can says "Satin".  "Well the can may say satin, but it's semi-gloss so make up your mind which one you want". The comedy continued while sales are voided, accounts being rung up on multiple registers which then causes one to lock down and the whole thing starting again.  Finally loading up the bit of paint we were able to actually get, I realized that I had not purchased the paper that I made the trip for.  But honestly, just couldn't take going back inside.  Omar is, as a rule, fairly quiet and soft-spoken.  "Ummm, he seemed kinda rude" was all he said.  

Until I asked him "Do think this is funny??"

More later on today's progress ;-)