Last February, The Lovely Marianne and I spent three days driving from The Isle of Long to Naples, Florida, where our friends, Bob and Loreen, were expecting us. I knew they were expecting us because Bob, a retired heating contractor, and I had agreed a few weeks prior to our leaving that we would arrive at their house on Sunday, February 4 at about 1:00 PM. That’s all the conversation it took because Bob and I are guys. I was very specific and Bob said that he understood. We said goodbye and hung up. We never discussed our arrival date again. Guys are like that. We don’t like to have to say things more than once when it comes to what time we’re going to meet other guys. It’s one of the essential differences between men and women.
We were 100 miles away from Bob and Loreen’s house that Sunday morning and the GPS said that, barring death or natural disasters, we would arrive at 12:58 PM. So I was a bit early. I could sit in the car and wait the two minutes before knocking on their door. No biggie.
“Are you going to call Bob?” The Lovely Marianne asked as we roared South on I-75.
I stared out the windshield and said nothing. TLM and I had been inseparable for quite a few days. I breathed deeply and drove on. A few more miles flew out from under our car. I checked the speedometer. Seventy-five. Good.
“Well, are you?” she asked.
"Am I what?”
“Are you going to call Bob and tell him what time we’re going to be there?”
“I already told him.”
“Six weeks ago,” I said.
“You need to call him right now. You’re being rude. What if we show up and they’re not there? What if they’re not ready for us? What if we show up and they’re busy with something else, or with other people? You need to call him.”
“He knows we’re coming,” I said.
“You need to call him.”
“I’m driving a car at seventy-five miles per hours right now,” I explained. “We’re in Florida, God’s Waiting Room. I am surrounded by old people like me who are doing the same thing I’m doing. Look at them. They’re all strangling their steering wheels and they all have their mouths open. I need to focus on this, Marianne. If we both die because I’m on the phone and not paying attention to the road we definitely won’t be there at one o’clock.”
“You’re ridiculous,” she said.
“No, I’m old and I’m mono-tasking,” I explained. “You can call him if you’d like.”
“Alright, I will,” she said, digging through her pocketbook for her iPhone.
I stared out the windshield. Looked in the mirrors. All of them.
“It says his mailbox isn’t set up,” The Lovely Marianne said.
“You probably have his old number. You never call him. Call Loreen.”
“I don’t have her new number.”
I stared out the windshield.
“You need to do something,” she insisted. “You need to pull over and call him right now.”
“To tell him we’re going to be there at one o’clock.”
“He knows that,” I said. “I told him that. He knows.”
“Well, you need to tell him again,” she said.
“Because we’re getting close,” she said.
“I know, and I’m trying to get even closer,” I said.
“You’re ridiculous,” she said.
Bob and I were sharing a glass of wine that evening and I told him about the last 100 miles of my drive to his house.
“Loreen was doing the same thing to me,” he said.
“I figured she would be,” I said.
“I don’t think they coordinated that,” Bob said.
“They don’t have to. It’s just the way it is,” I said. “It’s one of the essential differences between men and women."
The next morning, I was having coffee with Loreen.
“Bob told me you said he should call me when we were on our way here,” I said.
“Marianne was doing the same thing to me,” I said.
“As she should,” Loreen said.
“To confirm the time,” she said.
“But Bob and I did that already,” I said.
“That was weeks ago,” she said. “Things change.”
“Yes, they do,” I said. “And if they had changed we would have talked to each other about it.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Loreen, when you were Bob’s office manager, did you take phone calls from the customers?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Did they call about confirming the time your guys would get to the job?”
“Of course they did,” she said.
“Even though Bob had told them the time already?”
“Yes,” she said.
“So why should they have to call again?”
“To confirm!” Another eye roll and a laugh. I’m ridiculous.
“Okay, Loreen, here’s a question for you. Of all the people who called to confirm over all the years you worked in that business, how many of those confirmation calls came from men?”
“Not one,” she said.
“Only the women called right?” I said.
“Yes! That’s what I just said,” she said.
“That’s one of the essential differences between men and women,” I said again.
She just laughed.
So lads, some advice for you. When you’re selling a heating job, there are a couple of things you need to know. First, do not talk to the man if you’re talking to a couple. This is difficult to do because you’re a guy and you’d rather talk about things mechanical with a guy. He’ll nod at you and smile, even if he has no idea what you’re talking about. The woman will question you every step of the way. This, too, is one of the essential differences between men and women. They don’t trust you because you only want to talk to their husband.
So don’t be a jerk. Always talk to the woman. She’s the one who is going to make the decision about you. Not about the job or the equipment, but about you. And if she thinks you’re ignoring her you will never get that job. She will talk the guy out of you before you get back into your truck.
The second thing you need to know is that after you agree on the date and the time you will start that job, during the time when you think you’re all set in terms of calendar and clock, call her to confirm it all.
Call her until she tells you to stop calling her.
Or better yet, if at all possible, don’t make that call yourself because you’re a guy. Have a woman make those calls. They understand these things far better than us guys understand them. It’s true, even though this is a lesson I seem to have to keep learning.