12/16/2004

MY MATERIALS SUPPLIER IS A LIAR

My materials supplier is a liar. I know he is, and I am thinking of telling him I know. This can go two ways.

First, I can simply stop buying from him, and leave him wondering why I no longer do business with him.

Or….I can face him with it, tell him I know what he is doing, and tell him I will not tolerate it anymore. I can forgive him, and give him another chance. I do not like him, exactly because he isn’t honest, and he thinks I am just too simple to tell the difference.

You see, salespeople don’t respect simple carpenters like me. You know…..”he works with his hands, he must be an idiot.” I admit, I don’t encourage these people to believe I am intelligent. I just try to do my job, and let them do theirs.

Well, Ben (yes, it’s the best fake name I could think of) is really trying to do a job on me. He would do it pretty well, except that I check. I don’t take his word for it, when he tells me I NEED a certain brand, or a certain tool, or a certain grade of wood. Seriously, I think many of these salespeople believe that without them, us poor, dumb carpenters wouldn’t have a clue about our business. I think they must laugh at us saps when they get back to the store, or office. “That idiot! Ha ha! I can’t believe he bought it!” They can’t believe these simple people would buy a much more expensive material or tool than they really need, all because the genius in the suit told them they needed it.

Well, Ben, actually, the joke is on you, you see……….

I have let this go on for too long. I actually can’t believe he can’t see that I know what he is doing. Several times now, I have sent back what he delivered, instructing him of the brand, grade, or type I had originally requested, that he should please deliver that. Now, I know he has to make a living. Really though, he isn’t going to get rich off me. I don’t do enough business for any one supplier to make a living off me.

When I was a project manager, I also sold, so I know the temptations Ben faces. I know that sometimes, the customer can benefit from some well placed advice. However, typically, most customers know what they want, and it is the sales person’s job to give that to them.

Here’s the problem; if I approach Ben with this, and he reacts badly, I am going to feel like I ruined a chance to connect with him. There is the chance that he might react well, and tell me honestly why he thinks I’m an idiot, why he thinks I can’t tell what he is doing. Or, maybe he really does have my best interests at heart with all these suggestions. A problem arises when he sends the suggestion without asking me about it, as if he knows my business better than me. Sort of like prayer that tells God what He needs to do, ya know?

No one knows my business better than me, and it doesn’t matter what type of job it is, if I’m doing it, then I know what I’ve planned, I know what is needed to complete it, and that’s that. I don’t step out into the dark when I begin a project; there is a map in place that brings me to the end of it, to the completed product. I have paid the price for this business, I have paid the taxes, and I have done the work that needed to be done. For another to come, and tell me that what I am doing isn’t right is foolhardy, in my opinion. Now, maybe I am arrogant by saying all of this, but the truth is, none of my suppliers know my business as well as I do.

They don’t know how much money is in the account. They don’t have to sweat over making purchases, and changes. They don’t sit down before the project ever begins, and plan it out to the last detail. I do that, it’s my job, it’s what I do best.

My Father in Heaven, I am sorry for all of the times I have told you what to do, for all those times when I believed I knew what was the right tool for the job, and the best way to get it done. For those times when I thought I had You fooled, when I believed I could sneak something past you, or worse, convince you that my plan was better than yours. I truly thank you for this perspective, and I thank you for giving me grace, that I may share it with Ben. Help me, I ask, to follow Your plan all of my days. Help me to do what You have planned, to follow the map You have laid out. Heck, help me to see it in the first place. And Father? Please help me be gentle with Ben. Amen.

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