When I ordered curtains for our brand new renovated apartment, I ordered nice curtain rails to go with them. I wanted the sort of rail that has sliders and cords to winch the curtains in and out, not just a rod to hang rings on, with a wooden stick at the leading edge to pull the curtain across the window. I don't like that sort.
When the maestro (workman) arrived to install the curtains, he knocked on the door and I saw him through the peephole with his arms full of lovely-looking rails. But as meter after meter of shining aluminium slid through the door behind him, it became clear that these rails were the cheap, jingly sort with noisy rattling hooks and a rod to drag the curtain along behind- the very sort curtain rail I had paid a premium not to have in my shiny new flat.
"Are these our rails?"
"Yep." The maestro smiled at me sunnily and dropped the lot of them in a rattling, clattering, jangling heap on my feet.
"We ordered the other sort."
"You did," he said, "yes, you did, but we're giving you a special deal. For exactly the same price we're giving you a much better sort of rail."
I looked at him and he looked back. I cracked first. "Would you," I said "please explain to me why these other rails are much better than the ones we paid for?"
He looked at his boots, and sighed, and then he looked at me, compassion writ large all over his face.
"The fact is, you didn't pay for the other sort. I didn't want to have to say it, but this was all you paid for."
"Would you mind waiting one minute while I go and get the paperwork?" I walked across the dining room to the table and picked up the invoice. I pointed to the relevant line. "It says here-"
He interrupted me. "No. This is what you paid for and this is what you've got! People are always trying to get something for nothing. Don't think you're going to get anything out of us!"
He picked up a the end of a rail and dragged it toward the dining room window, electric drill in his other hand.
"I'm going to call the store now." I said.
"You do that." He said, and he whirred the drill once or twice, meaningfully.
The nice folks over at the shop had a copy of my invoice in their records and after we read it together, line by line, twice, they were reluctantly compelled to admit that what I'd paid for wasn't in fact, what I was having installed in my new flat. Even more reluctantly, they agreed to get the dear maestro and his shoddy rails out.
"So I'm supposed to take all this away with me?"
"But I brought it here."
I was getting cross. "That," I said, "is not my problem."
"Fine." He slammed an armful of rails into a noisy pile on the floor. "Fine. I don't have any of the other sort in the bodega (warehouse) right now. You wanted curtain rails- I gave you curtain rails! Now I'm going to have to go and find some of the other sort!"
"You do that."
He looked at me balefully. "It's going to take time."
"You won't have your curtains up till next week."
"I can't believe I came all this way!"
With his arms full of jingling rails, he stamped furiously out the door. He'd have slammed it behind him too, but by the time the tail end of the very last four meter length of rail has slithered out behind him, the momentum was lost.