I must be getting old because it seems to me that good manners seem to be a thing of the past.  People are so keen to assert themselves and protect their rights that they seem to forget that both sides of any arrangement have the same rights.

It was with great pleasure last week that I refused to work for a client.

It was a private enquiry, not related to my employment and the customer was someone who was very used to getting his own way.  I noticed that he was equally rude to his wife, kids, dog, housekeeper, Chauffeur and Butler (yes it was that kind of household.)

He wanted a server installation, full cat5 cabling to ten of the rooms in his house, wireless access points to cover the pool house, stables, tennis courts and garages.

I was to set up a mail server, a T3 link, UPS and automatic backups.

He didn’t want any mess or disturbance and wanted me to work at night, so that the neighbours would not see the work being done?!?!

He also wanted to dictate the price, the duration of the job and wanted to be able to call me in at half an hour’s notice if he had a problem, anytime of the day or night, for which he would pay a derisory annual fee, from which I was supposed to supply any and all parts I might need to buy.

The prospective customer, a fairly well known TV personality in the UK is not short of a few quid, yet the hourly rate he offered was well under the UK legal minimum wage. I offered to quote at a sensible industry standard rate but was cut short by a petulant, hot tempered tirade.

The tirade contained my least favourite phrase:

“Do you know who I am?!”  – This bellowed into my face from about four inches away. – The correct response to this arrogant phrase was revealed to me by an airline employee who decided that enough was enough when it happened to her.

She took the tannoy mike from its stand and broadcast the following announcement to the entire airport:

“Attention please ladies and gentlemen, we have a passenger at check-in desk number 46 who has forgotten who he is!”

I started to pack my tools and leave.

“Where do you think you’re going? I haven’t finished with you yet!”

“I don’t really care who you are.  There is an old saying: The labourer is worthy of his hire. I won’t be spoken to as though I was a piece of crap stuck to your shoe.  Like you I am a professional at what I do. I don’t need work that desperately that I would sign myself up to a lousy deal like this, you pay your pool man and your gardener more than this, maybe one of them could run your cables”

His jaw nearly hit the floor.  It has been quite some time since anyone spoke to him like that and it showed.  Customer or not, I don’t expect to be treated like dirt.