Everyone has a Nigerian tailor story to tell. This is mine.
Three weeks ago I realized my friend’s wedding was a week away and I had nothing to wear. I knew making a new dress would be the start of a horror movie given how unreliable most tailors are, so I decided to buy a readymade outfit. I found a lovely iro and buba on Jumia, ordered it and it was delivered within three days. Only one problem: the blouse was a little too big.
Enter the tailor.
Well, actually it was me that entered her shop looking for someone to fit the blouse. We agreed on N500 – just to hold the sides o – but I didn’t want to argue; most tailors are busy being ‘fashion designer’ these days and getting someone to do amendments is always a headache.
The madam and I agreed that my friend would pick up the blouse later that day as I was leaving the office early. She said okay. This was Thursday. Wedding was on Saturday.
Thursday evening, I asked my friend ‘how far?’ She told me the tailor said she forgot to do it that it’d be ready on Friday. I’m sure that by now, you know where this is leading.
At 11 am, her shop wasn’t open, so I called the number scribbled on the door.
Me: Madam what’s happening? This is the lady that gave you her blouse to amend yesterday. I want to collect my blouse.
Madam: I am coming.
Madam: I am going to the market. I will let you know when I come.
That’s how I started watching the hands of the clock. 1pm. 2pm. 3pm. I called twice, she didn’t pick up. I sent an sms, very peaceful message; no reply.
3.30pm. 4pm. I called four times, she didn’t pick up. I sent another peaceful sms asking her to just tell me what the problem was, that I wasn’t angry (I know, I know, my Warri brethren, I fall una hand). No reply. I really wasn’t angry, I had already decided to go to the market and look for a black blouse to buy. Since she had decided to let my village people and hers use her, I wasn’t going to give them the pleasure of losing my peace of mind.
5pm. I left the office, passed by her shop. It was still locked.
One of the first things I learnt in business was how to say no. I remember my boss at the print company where I worked turning down jobs because he knew we couldn’t deliver. It was a simple concept: if you can’t meet the target, don’t accept the job.
When dealing with artisans I always allow them pick the delivery date. The last guy that sewed clothes for me would pick a date, I’d add two or three days to it before going for my dress, and it still wouldn’t be ready.
I’ve worked with a carpenter that ‘fell sick’ after collecting deposit to fix my kitchen shelves yet was well enough to be at his workshop hammering nail into wood.
Almost every day, I see a tweet bemoaning how terrible Nigerian artisans are or one asking if anyone knows a tailor, electrician or mechanic that doesn’t have evil spirit. Because what will we call it?
What they do not realize is that no matter how good you are at something, timeliness is a big part of business success. Check that particular demon-possessed artisan you’ve known for years. How much has their business grown?
Back to the tailor. I waited more than a week after the wedding to go and meet Aunty Tailor. First she acted like she didn’t know me. Then she brought out my blouse and dropped it on the table, like nothing happened.
I asked her for my money back and she told me, ‘but I have done the work’ and turned away.
I wouldn’t have minded if she apologized and gave me an explanation, even if I was half sure it’d be a lie. You see, I had also used my friend’s number to call her. Later that evening she called back but my friend wasn’t with her phone. Me that called six times, sent almost 4 pages of sms, didn’t deserve a call back.
And she was busy claiming right: she didn’t see my sms, she didn’t know my number, she wasn’t going to give me back my money.
I walked away, left the blouse. I don’t need that kind of aggravation in my life or the saliva to waste; na quarrel for end am and e get wetin person dey big pass.
I am looking for a tailor. Please if you know any one that delivers at the agreed time, do leave a comment below.
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