I have owned my own faux finishing company for 11 years. This means I am constantly going into the homes of complete strangers to look at their painting projects. Thankfully….I have always been safe.
I have, however, had a few scares. Since most of my blog followers are females, I wanted to share some safety tips with you! Because, unfortunately….there are crazy people everywhere!!
The following is a true story!
Once, several years ago, when I was very pregnant with my 2nd child……I went to a painting appointment. The home was about 45 minutes from my home and in a rural area. The home was set back on a long, long drive with iron gates leading into it. The gates were open for me. I thought the house was big and beautiful. But, I didn’t like that no one could see me on their front steps and certainly no one would hear me if I got into trouble inside of the house.
LESSON #1– there is safety in numbers. I should have used google earth to see where I would be. And then after seeing I would be in a rural area…I should have taken someone with me.
The potential client couple let me into their home and locked the front door behind me. I notice every blind in the home is drawn shut and the house is very dark even in the middle of the day.
LESSON #2– if you are having a contractor to your home and don’t want to freak them out…..don’t lock them IN your home and perhaps make your house appear welcoming with a bit of sunshine and lights on!
I was in the home to look at the potential client’s master bedroom. On the way to the bedroom, I notice gargoyles everywhere in their decor.
LESSON #3: Pay attention to your surroundings in a home. Look at their decor. I know some of you may disagree, but I think gargoyles are evil and demonic. I know some people believe they ward off evil, but I think they ARE evil. Get rid of the gargoyles in your home !!! They may look cute, but so do many other things that can kill ya.
After we step inside the master bedroom, I am absolutely stunned as the husband locks the door behind us. So now he, his wife and I are all LOCKED INSIDE of their bedroom. I can’t make this stuff up. I was floored!
LESSON #4: It is never, ever, ever appropriate under any circumstances to lock a woman contractor in a bedroom with you. I should have bolted for the door then. If you don’t want to freak someone out…..don’t lock them anywhere!!!!
I had brought in my portfolio of samples in with me. I was now shaking because I was so nervous about getting killed in this home. But, not sure what to do…..I set the portfolio down on the floor and then ABOUT PASSED OUT as this potential husband client LAYED DOWN ON THE FLOOR to look at my sample boards.
LESSON #5: Unless you want me to think you are crazy or a swinger….never, ever, ever lay down on the floor in a room you have locked me into with you! How can you even flip thru sample boards laying down on the floor??? Talk about ackward!
Lord only knows which sample I suggested to them. I was writing notes like crazy….wishing I had brought my cell phone in the house with me.
LESSON #6: ALWAYS bring your cell phone into a home with you. And memorize how to dial 911 in your pocket if you have to.
Then, after selecting a faux for the bathroom that I knew I would never work in…..these crazy people asked me to come see their basement that they just remodeled. I knew that I knew that I knew that if I went to that basement something bad would happen to me and I would wind up on the 6:00 news. There was NO CHANCE I was going down to some torturous dungeon with them!
LESSON #7: Its ok to lie to save your life . You can say “I will look at your basement the next time I am here” even if you know full good and well you will NEVER return to this home! That was exactly what I did. The point is….get out if you feel like you are in danger!
I tried so hard not to RUN for the front door. But, I controlled my steps. I prayed.
LESSON #8: Pray BEFORE you go into the stranger’s home!!!!!! It works so much better that way!
I called my husband the second I got into my car and told him if the iron gates to the property were closed, I was going to literally crash my truck thru them…pregnant and all. Thankfully they were not closed and I have lived to tell this story.
I had to be brave enough the next day to call this couple and tell them I was not interested in bidding their job. They asked me if I could refer them to someone else?
LESSON #9: Never, ever, ever recommend one of your competitors go to a gargoyle laden, door locking, blind drawing, husband laying house! We have to look out for one another!
In all seriousness, we live in a different world today ladies. Blogs, Facebook, Craigslist, the internet have all opened up a whole new can of worms for contractors…..especially female ones.
I recently had another home that I wasnt sure I was totally comfortable in, so my sister in law…..who happened to call as I was getting a few things out of my truck for the client…..stayed on the line for the remainder of the appointment. I just had my phone in my pocket and felt better knowing she could hear our conversation. Thankfully 99% of our clients and potential clients are amazing. But we still need to use wisdom for the other 1%.
Here are a few final tips:
Make sure when you go meet a client for the first time that someone knows the address of where you are going.
Make sure if you are uncomfortable in a home, you listen to your women’s intuition and the Holy Spirit. No job is worth your safety. I have refused to bid 3 jobs over the years because I was so uncomfortable in those homes. Trust your instincts…..there is a reason you are uncomfortable!
Make sure when you meet a client for the first time that a woman will be at the client’s home also so that it is not just you and a man alone. This is just a good boundary! Even if a man calls to make the appointment, it is ok to say things like “will your wife be available for the appointment?” or “are you using a designer who will be joining us?”
Make sure you don’t judge a home by it’s cover. Just because it’s in a nice neighborhood, it doesn’t make it safe!
Someday, maybe I will write a book on some of these crazy stories!