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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 29 page 03

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“Okay, so let’s do some role play. You’re the shop owner and I’m the client who has purchased a mattress that turned out to be defective.”

Andrew nodded.

“Let’s get started,” said John. “Good evening, Andrew.”

“Have you come to purchase another mattress?” said Andrew.

“I’m not a fool. The mattress you sold me is defective.” John waved an index finger at Andrew’s face. “I want you to replace it right now.”

Andrew shook his head. “I’ll come to your house in two days and check the mattress.”

“I can’t wait two days,” replied John. “I want you to come right now.”

“I don’t have time.” Andrew repeated the exact words the shop owner had used.

“Okay,” said John. “Then I’ll sit right here in your shop and we’ll go together as soon as you get free.”

“Awesome!” said Andrew and leaned back. “That’s an amazing reply. That’s brilliant.”

“That’s how hawks reply, buddy. If you want I can come to the shop owner with you and we can deal with him.”

“That will be great.”

“It’ll cost you more though.”

“That’s okay.” Andrew would pay half his life savings to be as tough as John.

“I’m getting late for the seminar. I’ll send you an email that has quick tips on how to be firm.”

Andrew nodded. “Thanks man. I look forward to it.”

Andrew checked his inbox every five minutes after that. The email arrived after two hours. Andrew opened the document attached to the email. The first page contained John’s muscular photo with a hawk logo. He was wearing the same army-green T-shirt.

Andrew flexed his non-existent biceps. Maybe one day even I can be tough, he thought.

The rest of the document was twenty pages long. Andrew had read the first five pages when he looked at the time displayed at the bottom of the screen. He’d better get some sleep. Tomorrow was Monday and he would have to go to office.

At the office Andrew followed John’s instructions from the email. While working, he plugged head phones into his laptop and played motivation music. John said listening to motivation music trained the subconscious mind to be tough. The music also increased the pace at which Andrew worked.

“Nice shirt,” commented a colleague who happened to be walking by.

“Thank—” Andrew stopped himself in mid-sentence. John had said to never thank or apologize. Never appear grateful. That makes you the weaker person in any relationship.

Andrew’s work was over at five in the afternoon. He picked up the phone and dialled John’s number to discuss when to go to the mattress shop together when unexpectedly Andrew’s boss Marcel dragged a chair over to sit at his right side.

“Urgent work came up. We’ve got a meeting at seven.” Marcel swung his laptop onto Andrew’s desk and opened a document.

“Seven?” asked Andrew.

“Yeah man. Sorry but we’ll have to stay back today. A client just called. Put everything you’re doing on hold and put this on priority.” Marcel typed on the laptop.

Andrew looked around to gather his strength. He cleared his throat then turned to Marcel. He checked his watch. “I got work to do at home.”

“What work?”

“Something personal.”

“Cancel it,” said Marcel. “Come to my office in five minutes.” He grabbed his laptop and walked away.

“I can’t,” said Andrew.

Marcel stopped in his steps. “What?”

“I can’t stay back. I have prior commitments. I can’t stay back today.”

“This is urgent, Andrew.”

“Wish I could be of more help.”

Marcel turned away and went to his office.

Andrew swivelled twice in his chair. This was his first victory at being affirmative! He imagined hawk wings growing from his back. The fee he had paid John was worth it. He looked at his boss’s office. The door was closed.

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