Firing Squad

For as assertive as I am, I have a terrible time telling people that I no longer want to use their services. I think it comes from the whole people pleaser thing I’ve got going on. Plus, I’m very empathetic and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But. . .  and I might be going out on a limb here.  . .I think I am getting better at saying “no thanks” to people that I don’t want work with.

Exhibit A:

Mr. Darcy and I have been taking dance lessons at Arthur Murray on some group on type dealio. The teacher we had for our one-on-one was very nice but the whole vibe of the place wasn’t for us. Let’s put it this way- the dance teachers struck me as the Stepford Wives of ballroom dancing. Every time we went in they would try to up-sell us and make us commit to our “dance plan” for our wedding. And! They would write notes about us in these binders. Besides, who keeps binders anymore?

On our last group class was led by this marionette of an instructor who was impossible to hear except for her 1-2-3-beep-bop-da call out. By the 5th time I alternated back to Mr. Darcy he was sweating and looking rather miserable so we cut out of there early. We had our final one-on-one lesson scheduled a few days later and I just knew I didn’t want to go. I couldn’t face our teacher doing her pushy manipulation disguised as sweet encouragement. Lying in bed the next night,  I brought it up.

“I think we should not go back to Arthur Murray.”


“What should we tell them?”

“We should just not show up.”

“We can’t do that! We should at least call. . .We could tell them you are sick.”

“Lying to them is better than not showing up?”

“Yes! Because they have MY number and I know she will call me relentlessly to try to guilt me into rescheduling. I’m weak.”

“Tell her we’ve finally settled on our “Plan.” The “Plan” is we will stop showing up. It’s a concise plan.”

I sat there agonizing about calling and finally dialed. It was around 10:15pm so I was surprised when someone picked up the phone. I was only prepared to leave a voicemail not talk to a live human! So, I hung up. Mr. Darcy started laughing at me.

Then I decided we should just send an email. Mr. Darcy’s helpful stab at it was, “Dear Arthur Murray… It’s not you; it’s us. Well, mostly it’s you.” I went with something a little more fleshed out. It was clear but firm. And a little nice. I CANNOT HELP THE NICE.

I fully expected them to call me the next day. So far, no calls or emails. I think we’re in the clear and can go about finding a new dance instructor. But not at Arthur Murray. Never again.

Also, I might still kind of suck at breaking up with people.

Exhibit B:

We hired a lawn service shortly after moving into our house because it’s a lot of lawn and we don’t have a mower. Those are our excuses and we’re standing by them. The one man lawn service guy that I found on Craig’s List came by to give me an estimate, looked around the place, and told me it’d be $50 every two weeks for him to mow it. He doesn’t speak English very well but we managed to shake on a deal. He mowed the lawn that day and I told him I’d leave a check for him under the mat in 2 weeks when he was scheduled to return. Except two weeks went by and then a day and then two days and I finally called him and was like “what the heck?” and he was like “I come tomorrow!” And I’m like “OK but do you come every other Friday or what?” And he’s all “I come tomorrow.”

Uh, awesome. Great talking to you?

Then two weeks go by and Friday comes again. I leave a check but come home after work to lawn that has not been mowed. The weekend passes with no sign of him. Monday I come home from work and the lawn is mowed. Fine. Okay. Two more weeks go by and again, he doesn’t show on Friday, the weekend, or Monday. So Tuesday I call and our conversation goes something like:

“Hi I live at ….. and you are supposed to mow my lawn every other Friday.”

“Uh. Yes.”

“Well it’s Tuesday and you have not come.”

“I come tomorrow.”

“No do not come tomorrow. Don’t come again. You are fired.”


“You can’t expect to keep jobs when you don’t keep to the schedule you agree to. Don’t come back. Thank you. Good-bye.”

I was doing so well until the damn thank you. I guess I am still in people pleaser recovery mode. It’s a long process. Give me time. I’ll be Donald Trump soon enough.


17 thoughts on “Firing Squad

  1. I am always SOOOOO afraid of hurting people’s feelings… or making them “mad at me”…
    So I try to think of a “nice” way to let them go, and then they think they should keep pestering me.
    Resolve: start being truthful and more firm!

  2. I pretty much only have problems with breaking up with hair people.Usually because they’ve become part of my family and know every single secret about me.

  3. My mom used to go into long, drawn-out explanations for when she was canceling a dinner reservation at a place when we’d all changed our minds and decided to go somewhere else. I don’t know why no one ever said anything to her about it, but when I was 16, or so, I finally said, “You know, Mom, they really don’t care why you’re canceling. Just cancel. Say ‘we can’t come after all, thanks! Goodbye.’ and be done with it!” She kept doing her long drawn-out thing, but I felt better for having given the advice.

    I also had a shitty lawn service guy that didn’t show up when he was supposed to, and was TERRIBLE about sending me bills for services provided. (I like getting a bill…) I fired his ass, and found a referal to a dude we’ve been using now for 5 years. I don’t know how people think they’re going to manage to keep customers when they treat people that way!

  4. I despise up selling. It is so pervasive. Even ordering take-out where they are always asking if I don’t want something more. I do believe in keeping it polite however. I think the price we all pay for the overall loss of courtesy in public discourse is higher than we admit. (also? I am OLD!)

  5. you could just used the tried-and-true method of being such an ass that people don’t WANT to work for you anymore. I had a couple of boyfriends like that…

  6. I am the Joan Trump of this deal. Well, except I’m nice and I don’t have totally whacked hair. I’m nice but firm. I’m a little like Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail. “It’s not personal, it’s business.” And when I no longer want to do business with someone, I simply say so. Or I say “Thank you but I’ve chosen another vendor.” Or “I appreciate all you’ve done but I no longer need your services.” I admit in the beginning this direct approach was hard, so I scripted myself. After a few times of rehearsing and sticking to the script no matter what (like the time my secretary told me I was ruining her life when I ended her employment), it became more natural. Just remember, you do not need an excuse (like Darcy’s sick), nor are you obligated to offer a rationale (like you want someone to show up every Friday). Simply say “Thank you but I no longer need your services.”

  7. You crack me up, Sizz. 🙂 This is exactly how I ended up guiltily buying a pair of pants at Ann Taylor on Monday that I’m only moderately happy with, after I got annoyed with all the sales “attention” and snapped at the dressing room attendant.
    And yes, I will be returning them to a different Ann Taylor. Because I am a chicken shit that way.

  8. I love the mowers. I had such a tough time keeping track of who the heck was mowing my lawn. At one point I had two guys with varying degrees of reliability. I feel your pain. And good on you with Arthur Murray. I drive by that place often and I’m curious what it’s all about. It seems like you’re headed in the right direction with your firing skills.

  9. You are just too sweet. I’m not that sweet. When I’m fed up with a service or something isn’t working for me, I either don’t call that particular service back (if there isn’t a regular time they should be coming) or call them up and politely say thanks, but no thanks. Even when they keep pushing. I just keep saying “nope! thanks!”

    After all, you’re the paying customer and if you’re not happy with the service, you have every right to tell them “no thank you!”

  10. Oh my gosh. This is too funny. We had to quit our dance lessons by skipping the last one too! We loved one instructor and disliked the other. And they were SO pushy, trying to get me to buy shoes many sizes too small for my feet (“They are are supposed to be tight!”), going to “bronze” level. Give me a break. We just didn’t set up another appointment for our last session. Ha ha ha 😉

  11. “Tell her we’ve finally settled on our “Plan.” The “Plan” is we will stop showing up. It’s a concise plan.” <- Love this.

    We went to Arthur Murray for dance lessons for our wedding. We had a bunch of group sessions left on our "plan" after we finished the one-on-one sessions. We never went back.

  12. Look at it this way – there are a lot of things in life that you have no control over. Some of those things – like cancer – suck a lot. So when it is something you do have control over, be polite but don’t worry about offending someone else. Honestly, the dance people and the lawn guy? Don’t actually care about you or your business. So don’t spend energy on them. Take care of yourself, those you love, and those who love you. If someone doesn’t fall into one of those categories, just be polite but firm in dealing with them. And, it gets easier with practice.

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