One day Tortoise and Hare were sitting in a street café in Amsterdam when Tortoise said to Hare: “Do you remember how beautiful northern Portugal was?”
“I do remember,” said Hare, trying his best to hide the sudden nervous quiver he detected in his own voice. Tortoise had that familiar far-away look on his face that meant he’d just had an idea.
“Well, why don’t we build a house there? I’m so tired of coming to street cafés like these where the beverages are often sub-par. And the time it takes me to get here!”
“Well…” said Hare, who had no problem travelling to street cafés or any other place, for that matter, but who had to admit that always having to wait for Tortoise to arrive meant that he was always a few drinks ahead, which presented its own problems.
“Think about it, if we built a house there, we would have more energy to enjoy our travels. Imagine it – a nice place of our own…”
“Exactly! And less expensive!”
“I don’t know, Tortoise, what do you know about building in Portugal?” Hare’s goodwill had dissipated as quickly as it had appeared.
“Not much, but we can learn.”
“I’m sorry to barge in like this,” a voice suddenly spoke from the table next to them, “but I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. You have a great idea and I think I can help.”
“Who are you?” asked Tortoise.
“I’m a Portuguese builder.”
“Fancy that! What can you tell us about building in Portugal? Is it very difficult?”
“Nooooo! It’s very easy.
I have many friends and we can all help to build a lovely new house for you.”
Hare could see that Tortoise was getting excited, so he played what he considered a rather important card. “How costly is it to build in Portugal?”
“Ohhhh, not very. It depends on how we do it. But I can help. My uncle sells bricks, my nephew knows a thing or two about foundations and my two brothers and their associates will build a house for you for a very good price.”
“That sounds interesting,” said Tortoise. “Really, really interesting.” He ignored the look hare gave him.
“Very easy, very good price,” murmured the Portuguese builder as he watched Tortoise and Hare consider their future.
“I’ve done some reading about this…” began Tortoise, again ignoring Hare’s look, “How long would it take to build a house for us?”
“Weeellll, that depends, but it will be something that makes you very proud. We can start tomorrow,” replied the Portuguese builder. “Actually, maybe only next week, I think my uncle has run out of bricks and my nephew is on vacation until then.”
“Yes, but how long?” asked Hare. “Say for a two-bedroom home? A year?”
“Hmm, I’d say a little longer, but only if you want a good house with good finishes.”
“Which is what we’d want, of course. We’re very particular, you know,” said Tortoise.
“I can see that. None of my clients ever know anything about construction in Portugal. You’ve already done research! You are better prepared than any of them have been!”
“Yes, but how long?” Hare was getting agitated. “A year and a half?”
“Let me see. A year and a half? I’d say a little longer. Maybe 20-22 months if you add a pool. By the way, I have a friend who builds fantastic pools. I’ll call him right away. And his wife cooks this amazing dish…”
“Yes, hmmm, perhaps 2 years if we want to make it really good.”
“Now that you mention it, it’s best to plan for 2 and a half years. You never know. The rain can be a problem and these workers – they’re good, but they aren’t all good. We cannot know or guarantee all these things in advance.”
When his phone rang, the Portuguese builder got up to leave, but not without promises to be in contact. Tortoise and Hare watched him walk away.
“What a friendly, helpful man,” said Tortoise.
Hare stared at the Portuguese builder, who was talking on his phone animatedly.
“You know, Tortoise, I believe I’ve realised something important today.”
“What’s that, Hare?”
“That you, my friend, are a veritable speed freak.”
Janet has recently written a novel-length story that is nothing like the one above. It makes fun of absolutely no one and doesn’t mention the word “construction” once, promise. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out here.
Image credits: http://www.123rf.com/