That’s not finished, is it?

Reading A.J.’s post about tact got me thinking about the whole subject. I’ve never been a candidate for any awards in this department. Whenever I have been asked for my opinion, I have always tried to offer it honestly. I know there have been times when what I had to say was not what the other person wanted to hear. And I know that, sometimes. I was not really being asked for my opinion but rather for praise.

I have been on both sides of this. There have been many times when I proudly displayed a piece of work, expecting to be lavished with praise, only to be told, in one way or another, that my efforts had not produced a masterpiece.

The worst time to receive such an opinion is when you are delivering a project and expecting to be handed a check. At that point, any expression of anything less that ecstatic joy on the part of the customer can pull the rug right out from under you.

I remember once building a large cabinet that held a Murphy bed but was supposed to look like an armoire. The design called for a very dark, rustic looking piece. I had worked with the client’s designer and had matched both the color and texture he had specified pretty closely so I was expecting that the client had been clued in on what to expect. But when I proudly uncovered the piece in the client’s driveway, she simply (and literally) burst into tears. Needless to say, my ego was instantly crushed like a stepped on aluminum soda can. And in the same moment, a vision appeared in my mind of my check sprouting wings and flying away. I ended up refinishing the whole thing and eventually I got it to where the client was happy with it.

Learned a lesson there. Actually I learned a couple but I’ll go into those later.

Other things you don’t want to hear when you deliver a project (I have heard them all at one time or another):

“That’s not finished, is it?”

“Is that what I’m getting?”

“Wasn’t that supposed to be lighter?”

“Oh, my husband/wife is going to have to look at this.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t bring it in just yet.”

“Uhh … umm … err …”

“But what about the …?”

Feel free to add to the list.



  • I recently under went a colonostopy and the doctor in charge was a good friend, (do tihs, I never felt a thing). During the follow-up we were talking about my restoring furniture and my friend said that I was the only person in The Dalles that had made his wife cry. I had rebuilt a round top steamer trunk that had belonged to her grandmother and was the only surviving thing from her. The trunk came into my shop in two boxex and luckly all the parts were there and I was able to restore it to it’s original beauty. When she saw what I had done, she clapsed her hands and tears came to her eyes. Later when she had the trunk placed at the foot of her bed, the doctor went in to find her sobbing on the floor with her arms wrapped over the trunk. She was so happy that it took weeks before she could go in to the bed room without tears comming into her eyes. The doctor was teasing me about making his wife cry…..

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