Hoping The Phone Doesn’t Ring

It’s a curious business I operate in. When I fix someone’s computer, the first thing that enters my mind when I leave their house or they collect it is: “I hope the phone doesn’t ring”.

It’s simply a case of fear that I’ve made a mistake. Normally I want the phone to ring, because it usually means a new customer is on the way. But, at those specific moments, the phone ringing would mean I hadn’t fixed the problem I just thought I had.

Until yesterday, this had never actually happened to me. But I guess it was bound to happen eventually. It seems that my diagnosis of a problem was incorrect. Sadly, this means me now having to take time out of my day today to make amends, at no extra cost to them.

The big issue though is that I’m still not certain what the problem is. There is one other possibility, but it requires me to turn into a serious PC Tech to diagnose it… and that is learning how to use a multimeter. This is a device that apparently will help me test the voltages being delivered by the power supply. I have one already, but have never really figured out what the hell to do with it.

But today I have to, otherwise I’m going to look a fool. The only other way would be for me to lend them a working power supply and see if it solves the problem over the period of a week. That would mean going back next week, which is very inconvenient.

Apart from this snag, the PC world has been treating me quite well this week. I’ve had quite a few customers and even sold a new computer. This has to be something I keep working on as I want this to be the real future of my business. It’s the bit I enjoy most and is the most convenient for me.

Anyway… things aren’t too bad for me at the moment, especially if I can resolve this problem today. I felt pretty good last night until the dreaded phone call. Worse was the fact that the customer only phoned me a whole 24 hours after they’d taken it away. So I was, legitimately, thinking all was well.

That’s the problem with intermittent faults. They bite you on the arse when you least expect it.

Meanwhile, my cleaning job is boring me to tears and giving me physical problems in my back and shoulders. I need to stop it, but I need the cash. I’ve set a limit: no more than two more weeks of it.

And the house move? Progressing slowly… but it’s definitely going to happen. Very exciting…

Search Results

The weekend now seems a distant memory, but it was a productive one.

I arrived at my destination on Friday evening, and was met there by my friend and prospective house sharer. I’m still a little unsure about what he’s going to be like to live with, as though we’ve known each other for years we don’t really appreciate each others way of life habits. The kind of thing you only begin to understand when you live with them…

So it’s a gamble from that perspective. But I think it will be OK.

We started the house hunt in earnest on the Saturday morning. We had worked out a tight schedule to view some 11 properties in the space of six hours, spread across our prospective new home region. It ran like clockwork, as we managed to get to all our appointments early and the estate agents were all on time too. Good for them.

Some of the properties were embarrassingly bad. The estate agent almost seemed apologetic showing us round them. They were top floor flats with grimy communal areas like staircases and lifts. Then you’d go inside and either there’d be a total mess in there or it would be clear but that would expose the rather curious holes in the plasterboard walls.

After much scouring of flats and apartments we quickly decided they weren’t going to work.

So we moved on to the house part of our itinerary. That, I’m pleased to say, was much more successful. The advantages of having entirely your own space are huge. Even better, one of the houses we looked at had a small garage to its side which would be perfect for my computing business.

That house is the one we’ve decided to go for. It was new, modern, recently redecorated, and the price was a steal once we offered a 12 month tenancy.

It’s a massive gamble for me. Can I possibly recoup the £4,000 in rent over the space of a year? If I can I’ll be happy. It will be a positive sign that there is room for continued growth.

I will also have a much better chance of running my business properly as my friend is going to be heavily involved. That’s one of the major attractions of moving.

If it doesn’t work I think it will become obvious to me very quickly. In which case, I really will have to find a proper job. That won’t be too difficult, hopefully. But in any case, it will result in me successfully leaving home and starting my own life, something I’m desperate to do.

If it does work… well, the sky’s the limit.

It’s now just a case of waiting for the estate agents to do their bit. And, of course, hand over huge sums of money for trifling little bits of legal and clerical work. Bastards have me over a barrel with their fees for this, that and the other.

Exciting times ahead…

Searching

This time tomorrow I expect to be safely ensconced on train, zooming southwards to a potential new home.

Well… it might be a little to early to say that. At the very least I’ll be on the lookout for a new home.

My plan to form a bigger business venture with a business partner might happen, or it might not happen. It all hinges upon us both finding somewhere decent to live that isn’t expensive. In fact, cheap enough that a six month tenancy will be worth the gamble.

So far we’ve not made all that good progress using the internet. We have found a couple of properties, and even booked in for some viewings, but it is a shame that in two cases we have since been called up to say that the property is gone. One of those in particular was something that looked extremely good for us.

But nothing beats actually getting out there and searching for yourself. Most of the work will be done in the space of six hours or so on Saturday. It will, no doubt, be a tiring experience. There’s certainly a lot of ground to cover, as there is more than one potential town on the horizon that we could live in.

It’s an exciting time for me… I’m having some doubts about whether this is a good idea… but every time I have them I realise that I have no other real option. Staying here for the rest of my life is not doable. And, the more I work for other people, the more I want to work for myself, and make it happen properly.

In theory this could all go very quickly once we’re committed. There is no time like the present, after all. I don’t really know how the logistics of the move will work, but in any event it’s not something I need to worry about now. These things will come together somehow.

The key to it will be hitting the ground running. Once I’m settled down I’ll have to think hard for ways in which to make the computer repair/retail thing really take off. I’ll be more willing to leaflet and advertise to wider areas once I’ve got proper transport available, which can only help. Right now I’m terrified of the phone ringing and the customer saying they’re in a place 15 miles away… because I either have to turn them down or it turns into a big travel commitment.

But that’s all for the future. Who knows, it might not even happen. After all, in the past week, I’ve actually been really busy with my business and other things in my life. So much so that I was starting to feel quite good about myself again.

But I knew today would come, when there are no calls, and once again I’m sitting here… waiting… for something, anything, to distract me. Hoping that that something might earn me some money.

And that’s no good.

And that’s why the search is on.

Payment By Results

In my line of work, there really is no other pay other than performance-related. To try to encourage customers I don’t charge if I can’t solve their problem.

In fact, that has never happened. I have always been able to fix it. And, without a doubt, much cheaper than what they would have had to pay if they’d gone to PC World for the same service. And I work much faster than them too.

But, when it comes to the world of cleaning, all results are not equal. I get paid £6/hour for the brief two hour stint I do every morning, almost regardless of how much effort I put in. Sadly, I am much too conscientious to be a slacker, and do the most half-arsed job possible while still picking up my wages.

No, instead I toil and do everything I’m asked to do to a bloody high standard. So much so that many of the staff there have started commenting, “I wouldn’t be bothered with that” when I started cleaning a urinal, and “she was crap anyway” about the cleaner whose job it is I’m covering.

It’s just in my nature, unfortunately. It means I’m always taken advantage of when I work for other people. I can’t help but put in more effort than necessary to complete a task. I just like to see things done properly.

It’s also one of the reasons why I’m desperate to make working for myself succeed. Because, as far as self-employment is concerned, hard work is invariably rewarded in some way. Either through customer satisfaction, extra pay, extra tips, or better, recommendations via word-of-mouth. Which, as all businesses know, is the publicity money simply can’t buy. Even better, that hard work directly benefits me. It doesn’t line someone else’s pocket.

But around these parts, when work is scarce (as it, sadly, is again this week) I have to find things to do to keep me occupied. Before I started my cleaning job, one of the things I would invariably do is clean up here.

But now… by the time I get home, iron my clothes, have a shower and get dressed, it’s virtually lunch time. Once that’s done, I have a couple of hours before my brother and sister get home from school. I used to do a lot more in this time cleaning-wise.

Now, I really can’t be bothered. I can’t imagine anything worse than doing cleaning and not getting paid for it! At least when I’ve got my hands in the khazi in work there is some financial reward for doing so. Here? Not a chance. Not even any appreciation.

In any case, I don’t really have much energy left. After a five mile round trip to work, on top of the physical effort, I’m pretty much done for the day. So I’ve dropped to doing the bare minimum to keep my mum quiet.

Still, it’s more than was done during the summer holidays. The house has been a bit of a mess for the last six weeks. It’s been nice to get a bit of peace back…