Within twenty minutes Daniel was on our doorstep.
I offered him a seat but he said he’d rather stand. I expected him to begin looking at his watch any second.
“How’s everything?” I asked tentatively, doing my best to make nice.
“Good,” he snapped.
Didn’t sound so good to me.
“I’m not sure if Rod mentioned it or not, but this isn’t the color we chose,” I began, gesturing widely around the room.
“Yep, he told me,” he said, arms folded defiantly across his chest.
“It’s the wrong color.”
He sighed extravagantly. “It’s the color the hardware store gave us.”
“I don’t see how that’s possible. I registered the color in their book.”
He flashed an unpleasant smile, revealing large yellow teeth. “This is Puerto Rico, Patrick. Anything’s possible.”
I took a deep breath. “So what are you planning to do about it?”
He looked around the room before replying. “Nothing. Mistakes happen, you know.”
“It’s a $1,500 mistake. You should at least split the difference with us. We’re having it repainted.”
“That’s your choice, of course.”
We stared at each other with barely disguised hostility, clearly at an impasse.
Michael, who had kept quiet during this exchange, spoke up now. “By the way,” he asked, “any idea where our corner cabinet is?”
It was obvious that Daniel had rehearsed the wall-color conversation, but he was clearly unprepared for Michael’s question.
“What corner cabinet?”
“The one we bought in February when we ordered the other stuff. We sent you a copy of the itemized invoice.”
“And emailed you photos of each piece,” I added triumphantly.
Daniel looked around the room again, as if hoping the cabinet would materialize. “Maybe it was back ordered,” he suggested weakly.
“Nope, we called the warehouse Saturday. They said it shipped with the other furniture.”
He looked blank.
“For instance,” I went on, “they delivered the sofa, the chairs, even the end tables…
“…but not the corner cabinet.”
There was a long pause. He reached for his watch and adjusted it on his wrist. I could almost feel him resisting the urge to check the time. “You know, guys,” he said at last. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to end this relationship.”
An even longer pause. “Excuse me?” Michael said.
“This just isn’t working out for me. To be honest, I’ve never been spoken to this way.”
“What way?” I asked, puzzled.
“The way you’ve spoken to me this morning.”
“Then you must have led a very sheltered life,” I couldn’t help saying.
This time he really did look at his watch.
I’ll track down your corner cabinet and have it delivered. Other than that, I don’t believe we have any unfinished business.”
“Are you kidding?” Michael cried. “We’re in the middle of at least seven or eight projects, and we’re leaving the island tomorrow. Who’s going to take over?”
“I’m sure you’ll find someone great,” Daniel said, all but running for the door.
It wasn’t funny—but we couldn’t help laughing.
“Oh my god,” Michael said as Daniel sped away in his turbo-truck. “That prick just fired us.”