Catch 22


In October I bought a new house. It still has to be built, so it will take at least one more year until we will actually move. Right now, it keeps us busy though, as we need to decide on many things; financial, construction and design related. Quite a job, and Covid-19 does not make it easier.

It is interesting to observe how the corona measures concerning client support are interpreted differently. When buying our kitchen, one provider did not respond for two months to our request for information.

A second provider invited us to visit their showroom with the sentence “If you really like it, you can park your car at the back of the building”. Even though we did not really like it, we took the instruction seriously. Inside we were kindly asked not to visit the front part of the showroom, and all lights in the building were dimmed as if our visit was an illegal activity.

The third provider openly welcomed us and showed us around. Their municipality had approved for them to host prearranged meetings with clients. Service at this provider was by far the best and we ended up buying our kitchen with them. It is clear that the policy imposed on companies is open for interpretation, by the company and the local administration.

This week we got caught up in an administrative jungle while selecting our bathroom. We selected our bathroom during an in-person visit but cannot confirm the order until we know the colour of the furniture. That depends on the colour of the tiles. The tiles provider however, does not open its showroom under the current rules. We were invited to visit them online, which is far from ideal when choosing between slightly different colours and patterns. Yet we need to indicate our preference of bathroom and tiles to the builder by second week March.  We asked both the bathroom and the tiles provider how to solve this issue – still waiting for an answer.

I guess this means we will have to call the responsible parties and renegotiate deadlines. It did inspire me though to buy the book Catch22 by Joseph Heller from 1961.  Until both companies get their act together or our government allows us to visit showrooms again, I will spend my time well reading my classics.

Mindel van de Laar, PhD director of the dual career PhD programme in Governance and Policy Analysis (GPAC2) of UNU-MERIT / Maastricht Graduate School of Governance

Catch 22
Mindel van de Laar.