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The dog barks frantically and runs to the door. The doorbell crows…literally. It’s probably R. He’s always borrowing my husband’s tools. R’s wife sends her kids over sometimes with a plateful of homemade cookies (which I never refuse). I am a little irritated.
The animals were fed. I considered changing into my pajamas and decided to enjoy the feel of my new size-12 pants a little longer. The dishwasher hums in the kitchen. I should start dinner.
“We’re not salesmen.” The man with the shark grin stood outside my security screen.
“I noticed a ding on your windshield.” He goes on to talk about, or rather push, for a total windshield replacement.
My instincts say to graciously refuse, shut the door, and turn the lock. I had been procrastinating on getting that ding in my windshield repaired for six months. My husband stopped asking me after a while. My reason for procrastinating: I hate talking on the phone.
In spite of the warning signs, I walk outside and begin the process. His eye lids are heavy, strange, and he seems overly energized and aggressive. At one point, he snaps at the insurance claims girl on the phone attempting to accuse her in order to manipulate the conversation and push his agenda. I look at the smaller than a penny ding and wonder if getting the entire windshield replaced is right.
He sees my expression after rudely bullying the girl on the phone. “I’m sorry. It’s just that I’ve done this before. The insurance companies try stuff.” The apology is to me, not to the girl. His honeyed words try to say, I am on the side of the little guy against the big, bad insurance companies.
It is my turn to speak to the girl. As I confirm my information, I work on an encouraging tone for this girl who has to deal with this salesman and others like him. She works for my insurance company and I like my insurance company. I remember what it’s like to sit on the other side and listen to guys like that one.
“We’ll replace it all on Friday.” He pushes.
“No. We’re going out of town on Friday. It’ll have to wait until Wednesday.” My husband has just arrived home from work and he stands with me as if guarding me from the shark that now leans on my car. My husband wears a stone face. He wants to go inside, rest and eat.
I feel regret and consider canceling the whole process, but it’s all ready ¾ of the way through.
Shark Man talks fast, barely taking a breath, and flashing that shark grin at me. “Wednesday, then.”
“No—Friday.” My husband repeats. He has to repeat this twice; then, a third time.
“Call me when they have done the inspection for the windshield replacement.” He hands me his double sided, shiny business card, as shiny as his shark grin and as double sided as his smooth explanations.
“Okay.” I feel amused, annoyed, and doubtful.
The next morning I deal with the insurance inspection and the appointment is made for the following Wednesday, (to my relief) minus having to deal with the Shark Man.
Shark Man calls me on my lunch. “I thought we agreed for a windshield replacement?”
“I’m content with how things went and with the repair.” I answer cheerfully.
He interrupts my lunch and the peace I feel as I sip my coffee and eat my bagel. Serious doubts crawl into my soul and a strong urge sweeps through me to cancel this job with his company. Why is he in a hurry to get the job done and why a complete replacement for a small ding?
He repeats his demand. “But yesterday. We agreed. These insurance companies always try to do the cheapest thing.”
He doesn’t stop. He talks faster in broken sentences and I can feel his anger building. He keeps pressing me into a corner and my eyes are rolling. My lips stretch into a thin line and I am about to hang up on him.
He saves me the trouble and suddenly I am no longer talking to him. I try to return to my book, but I feel the need to cancel the job quickly. I leave a message for my agent. She calls me and I cancel the job. She arranges for another company to handle it.
I email my insurance claims center and praise the phone person for handling Shark Man with such sweetness of spirit. I don’t know if she will get the message, but I pray she found other encouragement that day from her friends and co-workers or a husband at home who will cover her tears with his hug. I pray, too, for Shark Man. Looking at him through the lens of God I see a man, tired and disappointed, who only sees people as dollar signs. I think he carries great burdens on his shoulders. He needs to see God to be a good salesman or to be a human being.
Whether it’s the IRS, the bank, or what-not every person deserves to be treated like a human being—like someone precious in God’s sight. Has someone on the other end of the phone irritated you? How did you treat them? Has a door-to-door salesperson ever treated you dishonestly and did you see him through God’s eyes? How did you handle it?