Mind you, this is not a recipe others can easily follow. It was all quite unintentional.
I have a belief that the Universe is always listening, and will give us what we appear to want. (Maybe that is the recipe to follow.) Anyway, I was recently looking at my carpet and thinking that I MUST find the money to get it cleaned again. It was two years since the last time. I also noticed, as a separate matter, that the cheap little upright vacuum cleaner I bought only 15 months ago wasn't working quite so well any more.
So I was sitting out on my front veranda a few days ago, doing some writing, when a van stopped and a young woman emerged and walked up my driveway to ask if I'd like a free carpet shampoo.
It was a promotion for a particular brand of vacuum cleaner. No obligation to buy; the staff got paid for doing the demo.
'We want to create some word of mouth, a bit of a buzz about the product,' she said.
'I know it's a good product,' I told her. 'I used to have one a long time ago. And yes I would like my carpet shampooed. But I can tell you now, I won't be buying.'
Well, it wasn't her job to sell me the cleaner, only to sell me the free demo. She didn't have to twist my arm.
In the course of conversation — they chat you up — it emerged that I'm a poet. So was her mum in Ireland, she said, a frequently published poet. I didn't know the name, but gave her my card and said her mum could look me up on facebook. She saw that I'm also a professional psychic medium and asked if I could tell her something about a situation that was troubling her. She didn't say what.
'Well,' I thought, 'I'm getting a free carpet clean. I can give her a freebie too.' So I sat down with her, held her hand and tuned in. I got some stuff which meant little to me, but which she seemed to think was helpful. It wasn't a proper reading, just a quickie.
We set a time a little later for the demo. In due course a young man arrived. We moved furniture out of the way, and I perched on a dining-room chair in the now crowded kitchen.
'Don't worry about the cat,' I said. 'He'll clear out as soon as the noise starts.' Not at all! Levi was extremely interested, and perched on another chair beside me to watch too.
Young Man said that Young Woman had mentioned I'm psychic.
'What do you pick up if you, er, look at my aura?'
I tuned in across the room, and started telling him about himself as a small boy in dramatic circumstances. Spot on! He confirmed everything.
'So, am I psychic?' I asked.
'Well, it could be a matter of asking the right questions. I'm a bit of a sceptic.'
'Hang on,' I said. 'I didn't ask any questions before I told you all that.'
I was also given a lot of advice for him, for now and years ahead, which I hope he will take. It seemed very important.
I explained to him that as I was clear I wasn't buying the vacuum cleaner, I'd asked myself why the Universe had brought these people into my space. Maybe they needed something I had to offer? They had both asked, and that's why I gave them each a quick freebie.
'Age Pensioners?' I asked, sceptical in my turn.
'Yes,' he said. 'How much do you think it costs?'
'Actually it's more.'
He explained that there were a number of attachments to do a variety of cleaning jobs, and the way pensioners afforded the machine was by not getting all the attachments. There were several I felt I could well do without, e.g. I'm really not going to be sanding any furniture at my time of life.
The amount of dust he removed with deep cleaning before shampooing was very convincing. But, remembering the early model I'd had decades ago, I said I thought it would be too heavy for me to lug around.
'Try it,' he said. It was amazingly light.
'It seems quite complicated, though.'
'Not at all. Look, all you do is this, this and this.' He did make it look easy.
'Is there any reason that you wouldn't LOVE to have one if you could afford it?'
'Love's a bit of an exaggeration — but I'd like it if I could afford it, yes.'
'Let me phone my boss and see what sort of a price he can offer. If you were to buy it, would you want to pay by cheque or credit card?' I laughed.
'Payment plan, with very small amounts.' I still didn't think it was at all possible.
He got his boss on the phone, and took notes as they talked. Then he told me:
'Because you're not taking this, this, this and this attachment, we'll knock off this much. Because it's a promotional offer, we'll deduct this much. Because you used to have one in the past, we'll take off this amount. And we'll also give you $200 for your old cleaner as a trade-in.' [They knew that was more than I bought it for.] 'That brings it down to this amount, and you can pay it off at $32 a week for 36 months.'
'$32 a week,' I said. 'That's $64 a fortnight — I have to think fortnightly because that's how my pension is paid. You know, I think that's do-able.'
The boss came to do the paperwork and started by asking the exact amount of my income — which turned him a bit pale.
'Um, so you'd be paying $32 a week, plus 22% interest ...'
'He didn't mention interest,' I said.
'No, he's not authorised to. I do the paperwork. I think you would find these payments difficult, and frankly I don't think the finance company would cover you. How about I give you the previous model for $25 a week for 100 weeks and no interest? It's just the same, only a different colour.'
Of course I was rapt. And he just happened to have one in his van, so he brought it in, we filled out the forms and I signed everything.
Next morning I told this tale to some friends I was breakfasting with. One of them had a strong intuition I should try it out before the cooling off period was up (only 10 business days). So yesterday I prepared to do that. I looked at the instruction manual. I watched the DVD that came with it. And I nearly cried. I was thoroughly bamboozled. It's one thing to see someone show you, quite another to try on your own.
I have always been intimidated by machinery, and this was a case of: 'Open this, flip this to that side, line up these arrows if you're doing this, or the other way if you're doing that, press this button, make sure this colour is showing for this operation or that colour for that one, adjust this lever with your foot...'
Should I persevere and learn the bloody thing? But no, I wasn't even game to try. I rang up to cancel the contract.
'The manager will phone you back,' they said.
It was the same guy who'd done the paperwork before.
'It's just not for me.' I told him. 'It's too complicated for me.'
'What? How can it be too complicated?'
But I'd read the documents closely by then.
'Look, according to the contract, I'm not obliged to give you any reason. But I am giving you one. It's just me — I'm an old lady and I can't get my head around it.' Nothing to do with my age really, and everything to do with my head — but the old lady card can be a good one to play.
'OK, I'll get there some time this afternoon.'
I'd already had dinner by the time he showed up that evening. He didn't argue any more, in fact was quite pleasant and polite; just packed up the machine and took it away. Only after he was gone I realised and phoned him back.
'Hey, I need my old vacuum. The one you took as a trade-in.'
'Oh, I'm so sorry. To be honest, I forgot all about it. What does it look like?'
I described it and told him the make. He said it would be late before he could get back to me, but he could leave it outside my door. I said that would be fine. Half an hour later he rang back.
'We already gave yours away to charity. How would you like a [well-known brand]?'
'I don't know anything about them,' I said. 'I'd have to see it. But I'll tell you what I need: light and upright.'
'This is a barrel type. But it's a very good brand. It's worth $700 - $1000.'
'Well, you'll have to bring it for me to look at.' (I can always sell it on eBay if I don't like it, I thought, and then buy the one I want.)
'What time do you go to bed?'
'I'm usually late.'
So at 10.30 he knocked on my door, bearing an upright Hoover.
'Oh, you found me an upright!'
'Wait! We have two for you to choose from,' and up my stairs came his off-sider lugging the Well-known Brand.
Both were light. The WKB was only one month old (!) and very easy to manoeuvre despite the barrel. That barrel had great capacity, I noticed, and it didn't need bags. And this machine would clean under furniture that an upright couldn't fit beneath. It also didn't need any instructions, it was so straightforward. I took it!
'I think I've come out of this rather well,' I said.
Then he asked if I'd like the other one too.
'I have to give it to charity, but we're on our way back to Sydney tonight.' (Thank goodness I'd rung up to cancel when I did.)
'I'm charity,' I said. 'I'm an Age Pensioner; of course I'm charity! I'll find a good home for it.'
He shook my hand goodbye. He looked exhausted after all his running around, and still a long trip ahead.
'I hope they pay you well,' I said.
He shrugged and grinned weakly, with a funny look in his eye. Only later I realised: of course, he'd be on commission.
Today I phoned a friend who has been needing to replace her vacuum cleaner and told her the whole story.
'This Hoover might not be what you want permanently,' I said, 'but it's free, and it'll tide you over at least.' When I described it, she was delighted.
Thank you, Universe! I think two quickie readings, and some Reiki zaps through the ether to help the boss on his drive to Sydney, were a small price to pay.
More seriously, I also think Young Man had great need, and that he has great potential. Perhaps what I said was crucial. Perhaps the Powers That Be considered it worth a clean carpet and an almost brand new, good quality vacuum cleaner that suits me nicely.
As I sometimes tell people, I work for the Universe and the pay is good.