Thursday was my once-a-month maintenance massage day with Juliet. It was a day I had been looking forward to because I had been spending my days making rosaries. My entire body was very tired. These massage days give me three hours of rosary-making, three hours of rest. Juliet and I are both singlehanded women entrepreneurs. She gives wonderful healing massages through her hands. I make beautiful rosaries with my hands. Both of us have no help. She comes in with our driver, who is her neighbor. Of course, she brings her hands. Those are her tools.
Every day these days I sit at a table in my workroom and use my hands to use my tools to make the prettiest rosaries you have seen lately. I have to make more than 60 rosaries by Dec. 4. I am no longer accepting orders because I don’t know if I can fill my deadline. Sometimes I get ornery because someone who put in an order for a few rosaries suddenly increases her order to 10 and will not take no for an answer. She says I should work overtime then pretends that’s a joke, though I know she means it seriously. She says she will pray that I can do it for her so she doesn’t have to worry about shopping anymore.
“What about me?” I want to ask her. “Who will do the Christmas shopping for me?” I tell Juliet about this difficult customer who, I’ve decided, I will unhappily accommodate anyway because she is praying for it. “I have the same problem with some of my customers,” Juliet says. “Some of them think that when they call for an appointment I can come right away. They don’t realize that I have a schedule for all my customers. I can call them when I can come for them but they are not first on my list because other people called earlier.”
Yes, because I wrote about Juliet quite a few of them text me, asking me to intercede for them. But I know she has a schedule, so I don’t respond. I think people need to learn that one of the basic laws in life is we have to stand in line and wait for our turn. Then we will get what we originally ordered from singlehanded entrepreneurs. You think it’s simple to add six rosaries to your order when the maker is busy making 60 rosaries for other people?
I think that people need to learn that one of the basic laws in life is we have to stand in line and wait for our turn.
That’s the hard thing about being singlehanded female entrepreneurs. We — our bodies, our brains, our hands, our feet — are all we have. So there are limits to what we can do. A cousin suggested I hire helpers. How long will it take to find them, then to teach them, then to be able to fully trust them? By that time, Christmas is over. The 60 rosaries are for Christmas. By the way, I already delivered roughly 40 rosaries. I need to make over 60 more. When we try to make them understand how difficult it is for us, they do not understand.
So what do we do? We just do our best. Sometimes we get cranky, but in the end we deliver. “But what do you think, Juliet,” I asked her, “maybe we can also refuse to accept future orders from the difficult ones?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Juliet said, “I don’t accept customers who talk meanly to me. I think, if she talks so meanly to me and I have not even met her, maybe I should not massage her. I like to work with people who are kind.”
Me, too. You know, early on I delivered 20 small rosaries to a lady I did not know. She liked them so much she asked me if she could order more closer to Christmas. I had to tell her I did not think so because of these 60 rosaries. “But if I finish early, I will let you know,” I said. That’s because she was so nice.
There was another lady who ordered eight rosaries. I sent them to her. She told me they were so pretty and so underpriced. “You should charge at least P800 per rosary.” I told her I don’t really want to make money. It’s enough for me that they like the rosary. I like dealing with customers who are courteous, pleasant and not demanding. See, I’m a hobbyist, not your ordinary supplier. I like to sell to people who respect that, who know that every rosary they get is an original.
We looked at each other and sighed. These are the problems faced by singlehanded female entrepreneurs. They never have enough time, enough hands, and enough pleasantness to work from. So we just do everything ourselves and discreetly dismiss those customers who are not kind to us by simply not calling back.