I stood by and watched, last week, as a dishonest merchant ripped off my friend.
That is not how I would normally want to behave, but in this case, I’m glad that’s what I did.
I say that because my friend was having a great day and nothing I could have said would have improved on that.
Peter loves guitars and he has been collecting them for 30 years, but he’s not put much time into learning how to play, so they usually lie around his flat gathering dust.
A month ago, however, he announced he wanted to have a serious go at learning, so I offered to service two of them.
He agreed, but quickly changed his mind when the thinnest of the old acoustic strings snapped while I was tuning the first one.
I probably should have gone for new strings straight away, but I wasn’t convinced Pete was serious.
Anyway, I wound up driving him, his sister and the instruments to a guitar shop so a professional could clean, restring and tune them.
The geezer who ran the place seemed to know what he was doing so we told him the size strings we wanted, handed over the guitars and arranged a time to collect them.
Pete also agreed to pay the equivalent of P600 for the simple service, but when we returned the following week, his sister and I could clearly see the old fart had skimped on the job.
The strings were thinner and less expensive than the ones we’d asked for and he hadn’t stretched them to keep the guitars in tune… but what really caught our attention was that he hadn’t bothered to dust, let alone polish, either instrument.
Before we had the chance to say anything, though, Pete started praising the man’s work and going on about how much better his guitars looked after the service.
Fortunately, his sister and I realised he was thrilled to have them back and that he was chomping at the bit to get started trying to learn how to play.
It was the happiest we had seen him in ages, and when we talked about it later we both said the reason we didn’t complain about the shoddy work was because we thought it would upset Pete, and that was not what we had set out to do.
We were encouraging him to play his guitars because we thought that might make him happy… but he was already happy as he handed over the money.
Okay, the guitar guy got away with one, but in the bigger picture that’s his problem. Our mission had been accomplished.
Pete won’t miss the cash, and Sal and I can stretch and tune strings and we both know how to dust… and that’s what we’ll do once he lets the guitars out of his sight.
Pete hasn’t started his lessons yet, but he’s smiling a lot as he has a go on his own… and he seems to have a real talent for plucking up.
We’re hoping, if we can let it be and keep our mouths… and ears… shut, that things will work out again.