We had a situation at work. A woman had made arrangements with us for the care of her dog. The arrangements were non-standard as the dog is insanely aggressive. After the fact, her husband wasn’t happy. So, typically, they said nothing at first, then a few days later they turned up at my office. He was clearly trying to build up a head of steam to be all intimidating and shit, and she was apparently carrying out a survey of my floor.
I was entirely in the right, with a signed contract to prove it. He was entirely in the wrong. Talking reason to him wasn’t going to work (though I tried), because there was nothing reasonable about his complaint. In the meanwhile, my doorway was obstructed by a huffing-and-puffing asshole. While I always enjoy watching people who try to intimidate me get freaked out when it doesn’t work, I needed to remove him before the arrival of other customers.
The way I saw it, I had several options:
- Irritate him into doing something stupid, like hitting me, then get the police to deal with him.
- Irritate him into hitting me, then feed him into a wall.
- Just feed him into a wall.
- Get verbally abusive at him and make him run away.
- Tell him we’d see him in court.
- Find out what the hell he wanted to walk away.
Option 1 and 2 would have been easy peasy (I’m a naturally irritating person and he clearly had a chip on his shoulder) and physically low-risk as he seemed made of spaghetti, but required too much official paperwork.
Option 3 would have been enjoyable in the short-term, but potentially costly. Having been to boarding school, I don’t fancy jail.
Option 4 was time-consuming, tiring, and not terribly professional.
Explaining the implications of option 5 to him would have been fun. The process would have involved his pooch getting a temperament test, potentially resulting in it being put down. However, if he had been stupid enough to really try that, it would have resulted in an official investigation of my business. We’ve got nothing to hide, but it would have been intrusive, costly in the short-term, and stressful. Plus the papers would have been bound to pick up the story, and shit sticks.
So I asked him “what did I need to give him to make him get out of my doorway”. He wanted £70 (half of what they’d paid).
I gave him the money without a word and walked off. He stood there for a little while, quivering in (self-)righteous anger, but as nobody was paying him any attention he ended up just slinking off, wife in tow.
Afterwards my Minion expressed her surprise at the fact that there hadn’t been any fireworks. She didn’t think it’d “end that easily”. Why had I “given up”?
Thing is, I hadn’t. I just value my time and peace of mind well over £70. I’d chosen to put MY needs and wants first. That doesn’t feel like a capitulation to me.