“Misadventures in Furnitureland”
Every morning weather permitting I walk the asphalt roads in the Oak Grove Cemetery located about a quarter of a mile from my Hammonton, New Jersey home. The graveyard jaunt’s distance is a little more than a mile if the serious trekker traverses the entire blacktop surface. The daily ritual is good therapy for both body and spirit and also for stabilizing the delicate harmony that exists between the two entities. My physical form experiences much needed exercise, and the invigorating activity energizes my remaining aging brain cells. ‘A stroll a day keeps the psychiatrist away,’ I often muse.
After my ritualistic morning hike, I habitually visit my mother’s home on Maryln Avenue for a cup of coffee and usually consume my favorite treat, TastyKake Butterscotch Krimpets. Naturally my flimsy reasoning is that I must quickly replace those vital calories I had just burned-off while power walking around the cemetery. One such visitation to Mom’s place happened last May.
“Hi Mom,” I respectfully greeted after I knocked on and opened the back kitchen door. “How’s that new chair that was delivered yesterday afternoon? I’m anxious to try it out and give you my opinion about its comfort.”
“I’m very unhappy with it,” she answered in a disappointed tone of voice, “because I had ordered a recliner and the company sent me a recliner/rocker.”
I stepped into the den and keenly scrutinized the object of discussion. “But Mom, the leather and color are identical to that which you had selected in the showroom. I was there, and I remember.”
“Yes, but they switched chairs on me, and I don’t want a rocker. I just want a recliner. But somehow things got scrambled and a rocker/recliner was delivered.”
“You should’ve bought it from Mazza’s Bassett Furniture Direct on the Black Horse Pike,” I suggested in hindsight. “I know Frank and Gary and they wouldn’t have pulled the old proverbial switcheroo on you. Sometimes it pays to spend a little more and get exactly what you want.”
“Do you want your krimpets and coffee or not!” Mom threatened in the form of a parental reprimand.
“Okay, I’m sorry,” I apologized, for I did not desire to forfeit my favorite morning snack over something as silly as an argument over a stupid recliner that rocks. “Forgive me for being so inconsiderate and unsympathetic.”
Mom had purchased the chair using her VisaCard, and with the help of Visa, was able to get her money back without too much hassle. Who says that credit/debit cards are bad to have? A disgruntled customer has a month-long time frame to cancel-out a large-ticket purchase.
In July of that year my wife and I were shopping around for a hideaway bed for my computer room, which used to be my oldest son Joe’s upstairs bedroom. We thought we had gotten a pretty good deal on a factory closeout, which included a queen-size sofa bed, a matching love seat, three tables and a color-coordinated rug. It all looked too good to be true . And when matters look too good to be true , as the saying goes…..oh well, you know what the hackneyed cliché states.
“Wow!” I told Joanne. “We really got a great deal on this ensemble. We only wanted a sofa bed and we have the whole room decorated for a few hundred dollars more. Who says we aren’t accomplished bargain hunters?”
“Make sure all your horses are in the corral before you close the gate,” my generally pessimistic wife curtly replied in her typical guarded tone. “Sometimes cynicism is more intelligent and desirable than enthusiasm.”
Five weeks later the furniture delivery truck rumbled into my driveway. Two husky fellows appeared at my front door with an authorization slip. I invited the visitors inside, escorted them upstairs, sauntered down the hall and showed the men the large former bedroom that had been ingeniously converted into my personal writing quarters. “In here!” I proudly proclaimed. “Carry the new furniture in here!”
“Sir,” one of the men qualified after clearing his throat, “the big queen-size sofa bed will not fit into this room. Even if we successfully make it up the stairs and turn the corner it’s too long and it can only go through the doorway vertically. I can guarantee you that problem without even havin’ to measure the area.”
“Can’t we just take the door off?” I asked, diplomatically trying to be constructive. “Surely you’re often confronted with this type of scenario during the course of your job.”
“No Sir, that idea of removin’ the door won’t make any difference,” the second man interrupted. “The sofa is ninety-two inches long and your doorway is only…..only seventy-eight inches high,” the fellow informed as he meticulously measured the aforementioned portal with his tape.
I was suddenly deeply depressed by the new negative-sounding information. “Is there any solution to this perplexing problem?” I defensively asked.
“Well now,” the first delivery person responded with a forced smile, “the company has a technician that will come out and disassemble the sofa bed, take the parts upstairs and then put it all back together for you.”
I became a little perturbed to add to my frustration and dissatisfaction. “Look at this bill from your furniture store,” I insisted, exhibiting a degree of petulance. “The salesman’s writing of ninety-two inches looks like seventy-two inches!” I futilely argued. “How much will it cost me to have a technician come out to my house and perform his service?”
“Around two hundred dollars,” the very formal second furniture handler related rather authoritatively. “He maintains a busy schedule so I estimate that he’ll come out here to Hammonton in a week or so. In the meantime Sir you can keep the bigger sofa bed stored in your garage.”
I felt a trifle stupid and foolish having made such a dumb error in reading the store salesman’s hieroglyphic-like handwriting so I reluctantly assented to the burly chap’s recommendation. “Okay, but first carry the love seat upstairs. I’ll call the store and arrange to have a technician come out to dismantle the sofa in the garage and then reassemble the piece upstairs.”
My wife calmly contacted the furniture store and was given the phone number of the company’s regional office. A voice at the other end told Joanne that our home was geographically situated outside the technician’s service radius.
I frantically dashed up the steps and addressed the preoccupied deliverymen, who had just deposited the love seat (but not the queen-size sofa bed) in the computer room. “Stop!” I imperatively hollered. “We can’t accept the furniture because according to your bosses at headquarters no technician is going to come out here to Hammonton.”
“Well, ya’ gotta’ pay us cash-on-delivery for the furniture!” the second perturbed fellow grumpily demanded.
“That’s what you think!” I angrily shouted back, a little out-of-character. “You two guys will have to come and sit on my queen-size sofa bed in the garage every day in January freezing your butts off and see how you’d like it!”
To make a long story short the furniture was returned to the company’s main warehouse, and I had to suffer a hundred seventy five dollar penalty for refusing delivery. The next morning I visited my mother’s place for coffee and my standard delectable butterscotch krimpets. “How do you like your new furniture?” she inquired.
‘Quit busting on me!’ I thought.
Looking for some family empathy I sadly related the nightmare misadventure in furnitureland that I had recently endured. “You should’ve bought the items at Mazza’s Bassett Furniture on the Black Horse Pike,” my mother suggested and reprimanded. “At least they would know whether or not the queen-sized sofa bed would fit in an upstairs bedroom.”
I honored my mother’s wisdom without too much accompanying embarrassment or loss of pride. And I must confess that Joanne and I are completely happy and satisfied with the new improved appearance and décor of the computer room. Thank you Frank and Gary Mazza. You can come over to my place any time for tea and krimpets. I’m also thrilled to report that no February guests will have to sleep in my garage on the queen-size sofa bed.
Jay Dubya (author of 41 books)