Talking with quiet confidence will always beat screaming with obvious insecurity

Our story so far: Drywall. Check. Flooring. Check. We were making progress on renovating the old Methodist church we were converting into our home.

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Chapter 35

As we wrapped up the flooring part of Phase Three: Drywall, Paint & Flooring, the painter arrived. Truth be told, he showed up a little sooner than was convenient as You-Can-Call-Me-Al was still nailing trim in place, but this was not something we were going to grouse about after some of the flaky contractors we had dealt with. He showed up, first of all, and he showed up sooner rather than later, so we were happy.

Early on, I imagined Tyler and I would be painting the interior of the church ourselves. We had succeeded in just such a task together before when we painted the first floor of the first house we owned. Tyler hired out the work of painting the ceiling, and then he pretty much painted all the walls, leaving me to haul paint and ladders around, fetch more buckets and paint inconspicuous walls in the closets and the powder room.

But Tyler was tired—he had so many other things he could do, and he didn’t trust me to precisely cut in the line between the walls and the ceiling (I had proven to have an unsteady hand). We decided to pay a professional to do it right and more quickly than we could accomplish it ourselves. He collected quotes from a couple of men who came on recommendation, and settled on the one with the thick, wavy gray hair of a Greek god. This one had dropped by more than once to inspect the church, and when he chatted with me about the features of the old trim around the sanctuary windows, I was impressed with his attention to detail (and noticed nothing unusual about the volume of his voice).

It wasn’t long, however, before he earned a nickname: Low Talker.

Low Talker derived his name from a character on the ‘90s TV sitcom “Seinfeld.” Her lips would move, but Seinfeld and Elaine couldn’t hear what she said. To be polite, they would just smile and nod. As the plot of the episode evolved, Jerry smiled and nodded in agreement to something Low Talker uttered, only to find out later to his horror he agreed to wear one of her designer puffy shirts on a TV appearance. Ha, ha, ha.

This character trait was probably not a good one with any contractor, but certainly not with the painter who frequently consulted the spouse he perceived to be in charge of paint color decisions. If you smile and nod in agreement to something, you better be sure you heard correctly or pretty soon you’ve got a wall that’s the wrong color.

So I said, “What?” A lot.

For the record, Tyler conversed with Low Talker without any communication problems. Only I said “what?” after every sentence. So was it Low Talker’s soft voice or my poor hearing that caused the problems? Those with intimate knowledge of my family health history might pin the fault on me, but I maintain Low Talker was one of those men who speak softly and carry a big paintbrush.

It was a good thing he used a big paintbrush because it became apparent very early on that we would be using a lot of paint. We started with eleven gallons of wall paint, five gallons for the trim and two gallons for the wainscoting. Only a few days in, I was sent back to the paint store for another two gallons for the wainscoting and three more for the trim.

If you’re counting, we were up to twenty-three gallons of paint.

If that number didn’t make me glad I wasn’t the one doing the painting, I don’t know what would. That’s a lot of paint.

painters desk
What a painter’s desk looks like.

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Tomorrow: We chose better with paint colors than we did initially with floor stain. Read about it here.

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