Hold ’em or fold ’em

“Alright gentleman, here’s the game. We’re going to play five card stud, and threes are the wild card,” my father said to the six people sitting around the poker table. My family and I try to get together at least once or every other month to sit down and play some cards. I received my two poker cards face down, and placed my hand down. I took a sip of my cold beer. I always try to get a good read on the other family members at the table to see if they reveal any habits that may indicate they have a good hand. I put my drink down and cupped my hand around my cards to protect them from any wandering eyes. I peeled the two cards up, just so the corners of the cards would appear. 

“Nice, pocket Kings,” I thought to myself. 

I was feeling pretty darn good with two kings in the pocket, with three cards to play with. So, as any confident poker player would do, I began to bet heavy. Mind you, betting heavy at a family poker game didn’t involve hundred dollar bills being thrown into the pot or car keys for that matter. 

“50 cents,” I said, as I tossed the two poker chips into the pot, feeling pretty confident in doing so. 

“Whoa, Sean! Look at you throwing 50 cents into the pot, as if you won the hand  already,” my brother Rich said. 

I simply replied with a shoulder shrug, a smirk and a swig of my beer. The next few players after me folded up shop, until it was my Uncle Brendan’s turn. 

“$1.00,” he said arrogantly, as he tossed the four chips into the pot.

Well, that certainly got my attention. I sat up in my seat and looked at my cards again, as if I forgot what I was holding. Everyone at the card table, including myself, knows that when Brendan is betting, and betting big; it always means he is loaded up with great cards. Of course, I threw in my money and even raised him, because I had a feeling my cards would beat his. 

Long story short, we revealed our cards, and I lost! I was showing a full house, and he was showing four of kind. I should have known better, saved my money and folded up shop.

I arrived at the job early Monday morning and was greeted by a gentleman who looks after the grounds. The property was a retirement community, which consisted of about 30-40 small apartment bungalows. 

“Hi there! My name is Vince. Nice to meet you! Come this way, and I’ll show you what’s going on,” he said to me in a joyful tone.  

He brought me into one of the apartments where there wasn’t any heat. He began to tell me what was happening with the unit, and that he had tried to fix it but had no success. Right away, I had a bad feeling about this guy and his stories, but nonetheless, I was able to fix the issue. 

“While I have you here could you take a look at a few more things for me?” he asked. 

“Sure,” I replied, thinking I could possibly knock out another problem quickly, get out of there and get paid. 

So, I took care of the leaking shower by installing a new cartridge, and I was back in my truck filling out the invoice. I strolled into the office and handed Vince the invoice, and he started to huff and puff about the cost. 

“I didn’t expect this to be so expensive. I will have to send you a check in the mail next week,” he said. 

“Okay, no problem. We will look for the check in the mail,” I replied. 

Well, a month had passed, and you guessed it! No check! My father received a phone call from Vince, who he was panicking because of a major leak in one of the crawl spaces. I told my father we shouldn't go until we got paid. 

“No we have to head over there and take care of it. He said the check will be sent out next week,” my father said. 

I reluctantly went over and fixed the problem. Once again, no check. This went on for a few months where he would call us for work, and after four trips he would finally pay for the first visit. 

I told my father again, “Dad, we have to stop going over here and just take the loss and fold; he’s going to keep calling to get work done and then pay us for the work we completed two months prior!”

Well, my father refused, and he wanted his money. So, we marched over to the grounds and what did we see? Three other plumbing trucks parked outside the office building.

All of them looking to get paid because they fell into the same trap! I shot my dad that “I told ya so” look, and we finally cut our loss and put an end to working for Vince.

Eventually, after several phone calls and additional trips to Vince’s office after that day, we were able to recoup a good chunk of the money but not nearly enough. 

I’m sure many of us have been in situations similar to mine and have run into issues with customers who complain and never pay on time. My new philosophy is that sometimes we have to learn when to hold onto our customers and when to fold ’em. It’s no different to me than sitting at that poker table when my uncle is betting big on his hand. Every time I think I can beat him, but deep down inside I know the odds are against me due to his past record of only betting when he has a loaded hand. We all have to learn that we don’t have to take every call and keep every customer. With some customers, it’s better to let go and fold, rather than hold ’em and lose your money.

Sean McCormack is co-owner of BMC Plumbing and Heating Inc. He can be reached by Email at seanmccormack99@yahoo.com; Phone 845-596-7770; Twitter @seantheplumber1; and Periscope @seantheplumber. Visit www.seantheplumber.com.

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