I'm a microbiologist, and my company is often asked to take novel disinfectants and test them to see if they kill various bacteria. One potential client called up to get a price quote, stating that he really needed to get the experiment done quickly, so that his company could get this new, wonderful disinfectant licenses ASAP. SPEED WAS OF THE ESSENCE! I sent him a quote, and didn't hear from him for 4 months. This scenario was repeated for the next year and a half. Finally, I had sent him the seventh price quote, and he called back to ask when the experiment could be done. I said that as soon as he signed the contract included with the quote, sent me the money, and sent me the disinfectant in question, I would be able to write up a specific experiment design, which he would then OK, and I would start working. He signed the contract, and sent the disinfectant, but didn't send the money. I started writing the experiment design, but wouldn't send it to him for approval until the money arrived. He emailed me asking when the experiment design would get to him, and when I could start. I gave him some tentative start dates, all based on him signing the design, which was based on him sending the money. He exploded, furious that I was wasting his time with all this paperwork, and demanding that I get his experiment done RIGHT NOW! After much effort, the money arrived, and I sent off the experiment design. Two weeks later, he contacted me to see how the experiment was going. I pointed out that he hadn't signed the experiment design, so I couldn't start. Plus, Christmas was a week away, and we couldn't begin a three-week experiment now, due to scheduling conflicts around the holidays (unless, of course, he wanted to pay overtime for 4 people on Christmas Day and New Year's Day). This time, after sending me a very rude email about my lack of professionalism, he had his boss contact my boss about me "dragging my heels." My boss, bless him, knew exactly what was going on, and told his boss all about it, including the fact that we'd have been done a month ago if this guy had signed the paperwork on time. The next day, the signed experimental design arrived via FedEx, and I got a grovelling email. But then, the Wednesday before Christmas, I got a call.
Client: Did you get the paperwork OK?
Me: Yes, thank you; we're all ready to start as soon as we can fit it into the schedule. It'll be a three-week experiment, and then it'll take about a week to write the report.
Client: Great! So, I'm getting a lot of pressure from management on this report. Do you think you could get it to me before the first of the year?