An excerpt from a day in the life...

The first hour goes by in a complete blur. I have a phonecall I need to make to a granite vendor -- someone the other day wanted to know something about a crack filler material -- and I get put on hold. Someone comes up, rudely interrupts me, and I hang up and it completely leaves my memory.

My first appointment comes in sometime around 1pm -- one of my better customers, a contractor who brings me all kinds of repeat work and is quite a nice guy. We're working on a new job and I've done much of the design work already, so this is a revision meeting, and he's brought his customer with him.

It turns out to be a revision from heck, as it were.

The customer, it turns out, is allegedly completely fixated about symmetry.

We start out with the range wall. They are putting in a 48" Viking range and want to do a fancy hood above it. I started out with one suggestion, but they didn't like that. They want a true "hearth" style hood. My contractor customer even has a magazine along...

I'm so sorry, I didn't see you there. Yes ma'am. I can get you some cabinetry brochures, absoutely, no problem. A wet bar? Neat. Have you done one before? No? Let me get you some countertop brochures too. I'm working with someone right now, but my co-worker here seems to be free. No? Well, here's my card; I'm off tomorrow, but I'll be here all weekend. I recommend you call ahead, though, and set up an appointment, since it can get really crazy in here on the weekends. Yep. No -- all the stones are about the same price. Sure, here's another brochure, and here's a little pamphlet that shows you how to measure. No, sorry, I'm actually working with someone right now.... yeah. Thanks. I love your baby's hat, did you make that? Cool. Great! I'll see you on Sunday at 10am, then.

...with a page flagged -- that's what they want. I take one look and feel ill. I don't know what brand of cabinetry it was, but I can tell you this: It was full custom, and that kitchen, cabinetry alone, was probably at least $100k. I'm supposed to emulate this stuff?!?! Holy Mother of Athena!

Alright. One of my vendors has come out with some cool new semi-custom options lately that might just possibly...? I bang my head (literally, actually) a few times, say odd things, and generally chomp on my tongue for a bit while I think deeply. My buddy the contractor knows I'm not usually insane, so he hangs in there with me and waits...

Another customer I've been working with shows up. Yes, I've got the printouts for you. Stainless steel appliances? Very good. Okay, and glass over there. Nuke the drawers and put in roll out trays on that one? Got it. Hey, look... can I call you later for more details? I'm sort of in the middle of something. Hey, thanks. I'll fax you the changes once I'm done with it. How's Mary, is her cold better? Oh, that's wonderful. Talk to you soon!

...while I'm birthing my ideas. (No, he didn't do the Lamaze breathing with me, but if he'd tried, I'd probably have been very weirded out.)

So. This crazy woman (my customer's customer, as it were) has drawn me a sketch. She wants vertical columns 6 inches wide, pullouts please, framing in a prominent, arched hearth-style hood. My contractor doesn't want to custom bend a bigger arch in valance than what I've got pre-made, and.... ... .... Darn it all, they're paging me again on the overhead.

I ignore it... and ignore it... finally, I sigh, excuse myself to my contractor, and answer the call. I instantly get sucked into a problem regarding an order. It's a legitimate issue. I calm them down, take down all the information necessary, and promise to follow up on it. (I might be able to handle some of it, but it'll probably take our expeditor to cope with all the details.) Seconds later, another page comes through. Then another.

After I finish ripping my hair out, I boggle a bit and try to figure where the heck I was with this kitchen I was working on. Bless my buddy, he's been patient through all this (he's seen it happen many times before). Okay. So I take these 9-inch pullout base cabinets. I rip their...

Bathroom exhaust fans? Right down that aisle, they'll be immediately on your left hand side. Ask that white-haired guy there in with the baseball cap if you need any help; he's our expert.

...bases off (void toekick option), and I stick them in as wall cabinets.... don't forget the furniture plywood ends.... and... on top? Um, well, that's a problem. The pullouts are 24" deep... they're going to have to be recessed into the wall, actually, 'cos 24" is TOO deep.... but the guys on top are too shallow, only 12" deep. (Don't ask.) So I make a note to myself to add paneling to the order to flush those....

I get paged again. No, you want building materials, sorry, let me transfer you back to the main desk.

....babies out. Somewhere along here, I actually lose my contractor (i.e. he didn't understand what I was telling him) which is unusual, so I spend a good five...


...minutes drawing things out in plan and in perspective to be sure he gets what I'm talking about. (Sorry folks, I'd draw you pics of all this, but this is waaaay beyond ASCII art!)

Then he wants the decorative stuff. That's a bit easier. It'll be a complete pain for him to...

Someone interrupts me. They want help with appliances. Yeah, I can do it, but I'm just a bit busy. I page an appliance sales associate, who soon shows up, thank goodness.

....install, but it was his suggestion (and I know he can do it) so I can live with that.

Mental note: I'm going to have to annotate the living daylights out of this design before I sell it.

Then we move to the island. The customer wants more space to the left of the main sink. Fine. I shove the dishwasher almost all the way over to the right (you still need a panel on the far...

Cabinet hardware? Yes, ma'am. Right down that aisle on your left hand side.

...side to support the countertop!), swap the 18" double-can trash cabinet out for a 15" single can one, and do other mish-mashing. After that, it develops that rather than using a half-wall for the...


...raised bar top around, ....

Sir... sir.... excuse me please... hi... yes, I know... please... yes... *SIR* Sorry, excuse me please, you see, I don't receive special orders here at my desk. To pick up special orders which have been shipped to the store, you need to go to the front desk. I don't have the computer permissions to do that here or even check on the status, you see. Present your receipt up at the front desk, and they'll send someone back to retrieve it for you. Then they'll record it as picked up, and help you get it into your vehicle. If you find any problems with it, just make a note of it, let us know promptly, and we'll take care of it for you. Thank you. You're very welcome! Have a nice day.

I look at the clock. I'm supposed to go to "lunch" (at 4pm) in about half an hour.

Bar? What bar?

A coworker approaches me holding a company cellphone with a caller on it. I somehow manage not to kill him, and take the call. I'm not even going to discuss it. It was that bad.

Bar.... right. Bar. Ummm... right. Raised bar. Around the island. Instead of a halfwall, cabinets instead. Easy enough, although she wants it to bend around to the right side, with "something decorative" there.

I hate that phrase, "something decorative". Do you have any idea of how wildly varying different peoples' concepts of "something decorative" can be? A long discussion (blissfully uninterrupted) with my buddy gets me some kind of idea of the situation at hand, so I plunk in cabinets with gleeful abandon (making a few more notes for myself which I'm not sure he's conceptualized -- he's a victim to the interruption blitzkrieg, too, but that's why I am an inveterate scribbler -- I'll remind him later) and we move on.

The window wall... there's a prep sink there. Problem is, the wall that the prep sink will be on is not sized right. I can space the cabinetry equally around the window on that wall, *OR* I can...

My expeditor swings by. She's on her way home, as she works banker's hours. We touch base on a couple of critical issues -- I need some things done, especially since I'm off tomorrow. She assures me it'll be done, and I trust her. She's leaving in a couple of weeks to transfer to another store. I am dreading the day she leaves.

...make all the cabinet sizes symmetrical, but not both. (The cure-all answer is to rip out the window and move it... but they don't want to do that.) Some cussing ensues (mostly on my buddy's part), but there's nothing for it. It's going to be what it's going to be.

Then there's... the microwave issue, on that same wall. I'm not even going to try to describe that, because it's just too confusing. But after 45 minutes, we achieve truce. I'm still not happy with it, but he thinks the customer will be okay with it. I slap some crown moulding onto the drawing,...

Page! Actually, this time it's my husband, who works in another store across town. We infrequently call each other, but this time, it's legit business: Despite the fact that he works in Millwork, not Kitchen & Bath, he's trying to help someone find a pot filler faucet. I tell him what catalog to look in, yep, UPS will ship it free, if it's in stock in our Maryland warehouse it'll probably be just a couple of days, gotta go, love you, bye!

...explain the aspects that the computer can't depict -- I sketch some in, whiteout some idiocies that the computer hiccups on, and he'll sketch in other stuff -- and do a lot of printing. I finally come up with a price -- $20,000, roughly, for the cabinetry, though that'll probably go up once I get done adding in a bit more paneling and other things. On the other hand, the software has once again freaked out on me and added in too much crown. (Before a sale, I always count it by hand and adjust it.) But that's good enough for my buddy. He takes a bunch of pretty pictures with him, plus a hunk of granite. He tells me she said the name of the granite color is "sapphire brown", and she supposedly saw it here, but I don't have anything by that name, nor have I ever heard of it. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, of course, but the closest I have, namewise, is something called "sapphire jolie". It's a mottled, cool blue and tan shade. I loan him the sample, obtaining a pinky promise for its return, and we arrange another appointment.

I wave cheerily after him, then turn, snag my appointment book, and walk not run as fast as I can to clock out for a rather late lunch. Somehow, I manage to make it from my desk to the time clock without further incident -- a minor miracle.

And that was the FIRST half of my day! At least, what I can remember fairly clearly of the first half of my day. Later, there was more. Far, far more. You don't just wanna know.