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Bug's life - the sequel

Richard's previous experience at listening into his customer's own negotiating strategies paid for a nice house in a good area. His car(s) were provided by his employer and became more and more luxurious as he progressed up the corporate ladder, however, he became bored and disenchanted. His wife Cheryl persuaded him that he had perfected a winning formula and that perhaps a change of brand might reignite his fire. At trade events he let it be known that he was 'looking for a new challenge' and was poached by a prestigious car brand as their National Sales Manager. He simply moved his strategy up a gear (pun intended) and agreed the most impressive deals with suppliers that anyone had ever seen. Unfortunately he was still bored.

He and Cheryl had a heart-to-heart and agreed that they had enough of a nest egg to take some time out. They had just bought a barn ripe for conversion and Richard decided to plough his energies into turning this into a luxury family home. It had been a while since he had actually done much DIY himself so he was shocked when visiting high end showrooms to see the price of everything. He was not short of money but he needed to scratch the itch that had been irritating him since he left the car company.

One afternoon he was browsing one of the bathroom suppliers charging more for a toilet roll holder than most places charge for an entire toilet. He watched as some tradesman approached the counter. He was wearing a canary yellow t-shirt, safety boots and a pair of black workman's trousers with the pockets on the outside. He handed the assistant a piece of paper, muttered the name 'Harleys' and told him that the van was in the loading bay. The assistant clearly recognised the uniform and asked him to confirm the account number which the tradesman duly did by reeling off a long number. Clearly this was not the first time he had been asked for this. Two big strapping guys then filled his box van with some of the gaudiest bathroom fittings imaginable including some sort of shower that directed high pressure jets at every orifice. Think Liberace meets the Marquis de Sade.

The assistant told him that the order came to £8905.07 including the VAT. The tradesman just shrugged and said 'whatever' as he turned and walked towards his van. No money had changed hands, nothing had been signed and there was no CCTV - the cogs in Richard's head began to turn. After a slow contemplative drive he arrived home with a plan.

He quickly found a selection of electronic bugging devices for sale on the Internet and chose a voice-activated little black box. He fitted a couple of batteries and he was in business. It worked a treat. He used double-sided tape to attach it to the underside of the coffee table and laughed when he listened to the recording of a call from Cheryl's sister telling her that she was thinking of divorcing her husband because of his incessant farting and his unbridled joy at demonstrating to their children how to light them. This had not only caused a serious rift in their marriage but it had also got them banned from the bedding department at their local John Lewis.

The very next day he went back to the same bathroom suppliers and approached the trade counter and asked some lame question regarding the best type of shower pump to fit to his ground floor granny annexe. As the assistant thumbed through a compendious catalogue, Richard surreptitiously slipped the device under the edge of the counter and applied firm pressure to make sure the double-sided tape had a good contact. The assistant explained the options, Richard thanked him and walked away, pausing only to check that the device was not visible.

He returned the next day to retrieve the device, this time asking a question about bidets. He raced home, plugged on his earphones and sat with a pen and paper. Just over 30 minutes into the call he heard someone say 'Harleys' and immediately came out with the account number. Richard checked and rechecked to ensure he had noted it correctly.

He had already bought a canary yellow t shirt and black work trousers and looked for another branch of the same suppliers. He found one less than 20 miles away. The very next day he typed out a list of luxury bathroom and kitchen fittings and borrowed a van from a mate in the motor trade. With supreme confidence he strode into the other branch and checked there was no obvious CCTV - there wasn't. He approached the counter with the attitude of an impatient builder who would not appreciate any unnecessary delays and headed for the youngest most naive looking assistant. He over-enunciated the name 'Harleys' and spat out the account number he had rehearsed all morning. He handed the assistant the list and pointed to the loading bay. The assistant nodded submissively and almost apologetically told him that the order came to just over £10,000. Richard shrugged and mumbled 'OK'

Richard pulled into his drive less than an hour later with a van full of bathroom and kitchen fittings that would soon grace his barn conversion.The same recording provided the details of 3 other large building firms and their account numbers and I'm sure that Richard will spank them mercilessly. However, I also know for a fact that Richard has more than enough money to have paid for the goods many times over, but for Richard and other guys like him, he does it more for the rush than the money. Weirdo.

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