We all have specific skills that we normally leave at the office. Rarely do you see scientists trotting around the high street in white coats, and most mechanics leave their grubby boiler suits behind on a night out. As a consequence, those of us with specialised skills are able to mingle with the rest of society untroubled. As an IT engineer I work hard to hide my specialism; I don't wander about with circuit boards in my pocket and USB ports up my nose. Unfortunately, there are problems with this strategy.
We all know salespeople tend to stretch the truth as they desperately scrabble for a commissioned sale. Mrs Business Lifer kindly took my Subaru to be serviced last week, and returned with an extra £625 on
the bill itemised as a cam-belt change. This was not a Subaru garage, just a backstreet operation, but they clearly saw her coming and decided to make some extra pennies. Admittedly, she is the least car-loving person I know, and repeatedly refers to my pride and joy as a Toyota, much to my disdain. If she had bothered to study the framed EZ30R engine blueprints I got her for Christmas, she would have realised that it doesn't have a cam belt — it has four chain-driven camshafts and the chain never needs changing. When I explained, she was so vexed she insisted I run her through every detail of the engine. She still calls it a Toyota but it's a proud moment when your wife can explain variable-valve timing systems to anyone who will listen. Actually, it's a bit of a turn-on.
A similarly unscrupulous salesperson tried the same trick on me when I was panic buying a laptop for the kid three hours before he was due to return to university. I was minding my own business scouting for a suitable machine. I was looking for an Intel i7 based system for its multitasking ability — a modern student needs to be able to play drum'n'bass through iTunes, while streaming bootlegged films off a shady file-sharing site, while ordering a pizza online, while watching a dirty DVD. With an i7 based system he could hopefully have an essay open in MS Word, and perhaps even some academic web pages as well, without cooking the system. Before I could say Microsoft Gold Certified Engineer
the sales guy was off on a spiel about buying anti-virus and insurance. It took me 20 minutes to convince the youth to stop with the script and take my debit card.
There has to be a solution. I want to be able to wander about looking like a tramp without being targeted as
an easy sale. All I can think of is some removable item of clothing — for Christmas this year I plan to get the wife a bright blue Subaru branded jacket, and for me I will find a Microsoft branded equivalent. I've even found a company that does a reversible option that is Apple branded on the other side. Problem solved.
Our entrepreneurial correspondent travels the world in search of business, soft beds and good breakfasts.
blog comments powered by