Chapter Three - Red Oak, IA
Saturday afternoons are often the best and worst appointments to run. Great because we catch people who work their normal 8-5 M-F schedules while they are home but the worst because people have a tendency to get wrapped up in their Saturday activities and forget that the Window Woman is coming to visit. Nevermind that she got up early and left her kids with her parents and drove two hours to come see you. It's all part of the routine though so I complain rather infrequently. I am just happy to have someone to talk to and the potential to provide money to my family.
The good news, the prospect was home when I knocked on his door. Waiting for me actually. He looked like he was in his late seventies and the house looked like it was in pretty good shape for the relative age of the structure. Charlie met me at the door armed with his two expectations of his appointment. #1) *pointing to a 24x18 leaded glass window in the front hall* If you touch that window I will sue your company for all its worth. #2) No matter how much he likes what I have to say, the spirits have to approve before he will install anything.
I was with him on the lead glass - that stuff is valuable and beautiful but, did he just say "spirits"? Obviously a poker career is not in my future because he read the surprise and skepticism in my look immediately. I regained my composure as quickly as I could and nodded as if he just asked me if I could finance his purchases instead of asking me to provide a sales pitch to the spirits who live in his house.
"That sounds interesting" I replied, "tell me about theses 'spirits'"
Charlie lead me into his den which had depictions of wolves and eagles coating every flat surface. He pointed to a hand carved wooden rocking chair for me and he sat on a 50's era office chair in the requisite mustard yellow fabric across from me.
He settled back in his chair and lit an American Spirit cigarette to tell his tale. "Back in 1940, there was an old couple who lived in this house, they raised seven children here and passed the house to them when they died. The kids had no respect for the history of the home and painted and scratched up the woodwork, broke most of the old windows in the house and then sold it. What they didn't know is that the spirit of the parents never left the house and all of the bad luck that fell on each of their children was because those spirits dwelled in the home and still do to this day." He then produced a picture of one Halloween when a picture was taken on his front porch that "showed" the spirit hovering above the front window (I don't suppose there was any other explanation like the reflection of a kid in a mask reflected in the window or anything) but again I nodded and pretended to be awed by the image in the photograph.
Satisfied that I believed his stories, I was then free to launch into my presentation I was talking about the superiority of our structure, integrity, and purity of ingredients when he stopped me and reached his hand out for the vial of ground vinyl I was presenting. "Let me hold it" he said "I can feel for purity in my hands." Determined not to be phased by the request I passed it over. "This is not pure" he said and passed it back. But I had him locked and passed over the vial of the competitors grind for palm analysis. "Ahh I see - it's not pure but its a lot more pure than this one." I smirked in spite of myself knowing that I had just proven myself to Charlie and to his spirits.
At the end of the presentation, his demeanor was relaxed and he followed me around as I was measuring each window and told me all about his Native American ancestors (who were wolves) as well as his kids. Calculation finished, he nodded at the figures I put together. "That looks good, let me consult my son and my spirits." More amused than anything else I kicked back and accepted one the cigarettes he offered me while he placed his calls (both on the phone and through a series of knocks and about 15 minutes where he sat with his eyes closed, humming under his breath.
The final verdict? He would take the whole houseful of windows! Window Woman to the rescue! Of course, as enthusiastic as he was about the prospect of his new windows, the spirits couldn't help him out in one key area. Financing. *sigh*