My cell phone rang one night in June as we were coming out of a movie theater in D.C.
“Your new laundry room is awesome!” a voice said.
Frankly I’ve never been comfortable with phone calls beginning with declarative statements. I usually pretend not to know who’s calling even if I know all too well. It’s a simple but surprisingly effective survival technique.
“May I ask who’s calling?”
Short pause. “Patrick?”
Deliberate, lengthy pause. “Oh hi, Jane. You were saying something about our laundry room?”
This usually throws people off. As a result, the little speech (or, more often, the rant) they’ve memorized before they dialed your number becomes so garbled it loses all meaning.
But Jane wasn’t so easily deterred. In fact, she kicked back into high gear immediately. “You won’t believe how fabulous it looks!”
“Oh, that’s great.”
Michael was looking at me now, his face a huge question mark. I put my hand over the phone. “The laundry room. It’s done.”
“Is everything hooked up?” he asked, all but panting with excitement. I handed him the phone.
They talked for ten minutes about lint traps.
We walked around the corner to our favorite Chinese restaurant for dinner. I had just tucked into a platter of Kung Pao chicken when my phone rang again.
It was Jane.
“I’m sorry to bother you but I just had to tell Michael one more thing.” Something about cubic foot capacity.
Talk about a match made in heaven.
We decided to go back to the island in July. Most people tend to avoid the Caribbean in mid-summer like the plague but we couldn’t wait.
The more we thought about our return, though, the more convinced we became that the clap-trap air conditioner in the upstairs bedroom would probably conk out mid-stay.
So we ordered a new one, a wall-mounted unit with a remote control. Amazingly (suspecting this day would come soon), we had taken a photo and written down the specifications of a unit we’d seen in a little furniture store in Isabel on our last trip.
We gave Jane the information and asked her to order the unit and have it installed before our arrival.
She called me at work a few days later with a “you are there” report.
“Guess where I’m sitting,” she said.
I was busy and not in my best mood. “In a hot tub with your top off.”
“Funny, but not so much. Guess again.”
“In our bedroom.”
“And I’m guessing it’s cool.”
“As a cucumber.”
“You’re the absolute best property manager we have.”
“Don’t forget to turn it off when you leave.”
In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have said that last thing.