There are very few people in this world that I really don't like. Or ones that I thought didn't like me. Maybe I'm blissfully naive and there's actually a whole network of people out there that I have annoyed or made murderously angry with my bad habits of indecision, tardiness and overuse of my silly catch phrases like, "on the flip side" or "What were they thinking?" or "Seriously?!" There was one point in my life though when I knew I had a nemesis - someone who was out to destroy me and have me carted off by the men with a one way pass to the padded presidential suite of Hotel Nutso.
She was the designer we hired to help us draw up plans for our remodel a few years back. We'll call her Telulah (her name has been changed to protect us from any google searches that might connect her and her profession to my hometown - the last thing I need is a libel suit from this lady). Telulah came highly recommended from our friend in the remodeling business. He would hire her to design his addition if he was doing one. He warned us she was a bit "out there" but she was extremely talented.
She showed up for our first appointment and right away I knew she was different than anyone I'd ever met. She was petite and wiry (all the better to climb in your attic and check your rafter configurations) and had hair that was dark brown, blond and grey all at once. And the hair had a life of it's own. It didn't really flow down her back, it more spilled - not in the glorious heroine of a Harlequin novel way - but like someone tipped over my yard debris can after I had been doing spring pruning and branches were spilling out everywhere. The hair was coarse and wiry, like it gave up on being curly in any way years ago, but still just didn't want to lie flat. And so it seemed to go in all directions at once. She had a thin face that looked like it was barely wide enough to accommodate cheek bones. Her eyes were a bit buggy, with long, pale eyelashes. My daughter put it best - "Mom - I don't mean to be rude or anything, but she looks kind of like a witch would look if she was trying to look normal."
Indeed her birkenstocks and fleece vests and lilting soft voice had us all fooled at first. She took measurements, she listened to our ideas and excitedly added her own, she oohed and ahed over our garden and gushed about the potential for our little ranch to expand to meet our needs. We were sucked into her magical trance and before we knew it, we had a meeting to review preliminary drawings with her and were handing over a check for her to do the complete engineering and architectural drawings for our 700 sf addition. Her eccentricities seemed charming but harmless.
Further down the road, the truth started to emerge. Phone calls asking the same questions over and over again. Measurements needing to be taken again. Missed deadlines. Failures to coordinate with truss companies, my carpenter, the county for permits all just about drove me into a mental tailspin. On one particular afternoon when we had met at the county offices to submit the final drawings for approval so we could break ground and start the project, she was talking circles in ways that I swear had me closer to the mental edge of the cliff than I have ever been. At one point I looked at Brad and said, "I swear honey, you are going to have to do this and deal with her or I'm literally going to go postal here in the county offices and ruin all our lives because I'll be in jail for murder tomorrow." Thankfully the man knows a crisis situation when he sees one and he turned on the charm he uses daily working in a profession filled with the female gender and had Telulah back on the road to sane conversations and building permits within a few minutes.
I remember leaving that appointment and walking with Brad to the car and saying, "Why is she doing this to me? What have I done to her? Why does she hate me? She is driving me crazy! I just don't know if I can do this!"
In hindsight, I think that God used this woman to prepare me for the somewhat flaky and unreliable folks that were going to step into our lives in the next few months as we embarked on the building project. As my friend Dan says (he's a plumber himself), everyone in the construction industry is either mentally ill or chemically addicted to something. And I can say in no uncertain terms, that none of the contractors that came after Telulah was as bad as she was. As much as she was a nut job and a nightmare in some ways to deal with, she did do a phenomenal job on our plans and we had many comments from inspectors and contractors that hers were some of the most detailed and professionally done plans they had seen. So fortunately, my trip to crazyville complements of my nemesis, was worth it.
To read more about nemeses (is that the right plural?), go here.