Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Art of the Deal - Burkina Style

Holy cow, we nearly had WWIII in our courtyard here this morning! If you’ve been reading my posts up to this point, you’ll know that it all started several days ago when our landlord engaged an inept tile layer to put tiles on our bedroom floor. I declared the resulting shoddy workmanship unacceptable and suggested that my friend, John, do the work instead. After a lengthy discussion, which involved the landlord agreeing to hire John, and Kathy & I paying the additional price difference, John and his crew started on the job. For some bizarre reason, I figured that the matter was all settled and everyone could get on with life. Boy, was I wrong!

This morning, the inept tile layer and his crew showed up again, ready for another try to make good the fiasco of the other day. The landlord was right behind them, eager to engage them again in order to recuperate the cost from them of the roughly $70 worth of tiles that went out the door in pieces yesterday. Of course, John was not in agreement with this course of action! Neither was I. The difference was that he was much more vocal about it! Soon he and the landlord were waving their arms in the air and yelling at each other virtually at the tops of their lungs!

Finally, I managed to get between them and calm things down. “I thought we had an agreement yesterday,” I said to the landlord. “Now you want to change it! How are we going to get anything done if each new day you keep changing your mind about how you want to do things?” “Well, that’s the way we do things here,” he replied, “we modify agreements as necessary.” “Fine,” I said, “Then John can finish doing our bedroom floors, because I don’t want your guy in there again, and your guy can do the bedroom floors in the apartment beside us. That way I get the nice floors I want, and you can get your money back from the other guy in labour.”

After a little more negotiating, this was the new course of action agreed upon by all parties concerned, and John and his crew went back to work.

Kathy & I couldn't help but wonder how long this would last. (Can you blame us?) Well, we soon had our answer! In mid-afternoon I received a call from John saying that the landlord had come back to apologize for his behaviour and to ask John to do all of the remaining work! John and his crew had already finished laying the tiles in both our bedrooms, and it was a great-looking job (though not quite done) compared to what the other guy had done! The landlord had seen it too and realized that he had been too hasty in wanting to dismiss John and re-engage the other guy. There is, however, one condition: he wants Kathy & I to pay for the $70 in wasted tiles!

Tomorrow promises to be an interesting day! I think I'll need to suggest a few modifications to this plan of action. After all, isn't that how they do things here? :)

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