Burning Man O Man

Last Saturday I got a call from a man who had a special request for a special event. Every year in the Black Rock desert in Nevada there is a tribal gathering of like 50,000 people called The Burning Man. People camp out and enjoy all sorts of shows and spectacles and in the end you throw your clothes into the fire to symbolize something or other/stupidity. Now it is not cheap, you have to have tickets ($270 and up) and from people who have gone it can involve lots of drugs and alcohol and in the end everything and everyone is covered with a very thick layer of soot on their cars and skin.

So this new client asks if I can make costumes for he and his girlfriend. It seems OK since it is 3 weeks away and he says the only day he can meet with me is the following day Sunday at exactly 3:30pm. Not my favorite day to meet with clients but I agree. That Sunday morning I went out to teach a private sewing lesson to a girlfriend and planned on being home later for this guy.

He explains over the phone exactly what he wants: a stretch gold lame’ tuxedo vest with lapels and a hood and a red lame’ vest to match and a tube dress in stretch gold lame for his girlfriend. It seems doable but then he says, I’m a big guy, I weigh over 340 pounds and am 6’2″. My girlfriend is size 4. Of course at this point I am picturing them together, him being about 4 times her size and weight but still it is a challenge. He says he is buying yards and yards of stretch gold lame’ and will bring it with him….can you feel what comes next? After telling him my hourly rates and suggesting he calls around to another larger sewing center where they hire young girls for minimum wage for a better price, he says OH NO, you came highly recommended and I want you. Nice touch.

Well…Sunday comes and goes and no phone call, no email, no guy and his lame’. I’m figuring his girlfriend backed out, he couldn’t get tickets, well anything could have happened and maybe he will call to let me know….ha ha so optimistic on my part.

Flash forward to today, 6 days later, Saturday afternoon and the phone rings. It is our guy and he says he is now ready to come by with his yards and yards of lame’ and get started.

I say, “I guess you were not near a phone or computer for 6 days and didn’t think it was important enough to let me know your plans after making a special Sunday appointment and then failing to show up”. He is speechless and then I explain that it is my policy that if this happens to me it is a red flag that tells me a client is not serious nor respectful of my time and skill and he should just call that other sewing center and ask them to help him out because we are not going to be working together. I tell him I am sorry but maybe someone else will be willing/stupid enough to tackle this in the next 2 weeks.

A hard lesson to learn but a valuable one. Missed appointments happen all the time, medical emergencies, work schedule conflicts, whatever but you never should leave the service person in the lurch holding your spot. All it says is “You are not important until I need you”.

Maybe the guy just caught me at a bad time, after all I had just come in from pulling weeds and digging up crabgrass for 3.5 hours and was washing my garden produce before tackling the afternoon sewing projects when he called. Here is what my garden has produced in the last 2 days:

    Now it is time to re-hydrate, cool down and get stuck into the stack of alterations that came in yesterday…got my Diet Dr. Pepper right beside me!!!

Wishing you bountiful harvests and thoughtful clients ….well we can only hope!

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3 Responses to Burning Man O Man

  1. Alethia says:

    Waaaay TO GO!!!! That’s what I’m talk’n about! You should’ve let him have it just like you gave it to him. I bet he’ll think twice before he does someone else like that.
    People don’t respect your time. Now-a-days ,if you miss your Dr.s appt., they are subject to still bill you a fee for not showing up or calling.
    Good for YOU!
    Oh, BTW, your vegetables look delicious, they are beautiful!

    Happy Sewing :)

  2. stephan.com says:

    As a burner, I apologize on his behalf. We do tend to be a bit difficult to keep on a schedule, though. Too bad, that outfit would have looked amazing.

  3. You absolutely, positively did the right thing but telling this guy to get lost. I’ve been out to Burning Man a few times, (but wouldn’t identify as a Burner), and until proven otherwise, it should be assumed that they conform to the worst stereotypes – selfish, lazy, inconsiderate, flaky, and opportunistic. They conduct themselves as if generally accepted standards of etiquette and protocol do not apply, and will take advantage of anyone, at any chance they get.

    If a Burner ever contacts you for goods or services – get the cash up front, and do not go out of your way for them. Unless you get extra for that. In a scenario such as this, with a special request that is out of the ordinary, I would have made him pay an appointment deposit, in advance, at 2x the standard rate, for making me be available on a weekend when I could be doing something else. And applied that deposit to the job if he actually showed up. He would have bitched & moaned; whined & complained about how that’s so unfair & blahblahblah, but it’s not an unreasonable request. He wouldn’t have paid the deposit and you would have filtered out a dirtbag who was wasting your time.

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