the $45 dining table.


meagan and i went to tukwila last night, in search of a full bed for my new studio. we went to the macy's furniture store, thinking that it was the clearance furniture store. most beds ran from about $699 to well over $2000. with no intention of buying, i test-drove the cheapest twin bed they had, one that ran for about $600 - $700. "i can't tell the difference," i told meagan. "i don't see what makes a good bed any different from a bad one." "you're used to sleeping on pretty terrible beds," she said. then she went and rested on a $2000 bed. "come try out this one," she said.

i plopped down on the bed, and immediately, i could tell the difference. it felt like sinking into a giant cloud, but still having the support. i didn't want to get up from the bed. "i get it," i said aloud. still, $2000 wasn't in the budget i had mentally created when thinking about how to furnish my apartment. "this is like a career bed," i said, then added, "this is like a bed you sleep in for the rest of your life. the kind of bed you get when you get married." i told her i wasn't sure how long i planned on staying in my apartment, and since this uncertainty lingered, i wasn't ready to make a $500 investment in a bed, let alone a $2000 one.

the mattress store gave meagan the creeps, and i have to admit, i was weirded out, too. what a strange business it is, selling big boxes and pads that people spend 1/3 of their day on, that they fuck on, that they cry on, that they have no idea what to do with once they move out. giant things that require trucks and rope and pivoting just to get through the door. and the varying price ranges. again, it's like asking, how much do i value comfort at night? is my comfort only worth a $100 used ikea bed from craigslist, or is my sleep-time comfort worth $2000? who makes these decisions? how do people decide?

staring up at the ceiling while test driving the twin mattress, i remarked how the furniture store reminded me of a funeral parlor, or else a casket shop. meagan agreed. "i think that's why it's so creepy," she said. i told her that we should go, that i had no intention of dropping a single dollar in the store. "i guess i'm not the young professional you thought i was," i said. "i can't afford this. this is for people with money." we drove across the street to the real macy's furniture clearance store. a sign outside read: "mattress event." "what the hell is a 'mattress event?'" meagan asked. "i mean, come on. an 'event?' really?" inside, the cheapest full bed was $699, more expensive than the cheapest full bed at the regular store. "that's all i got," the asian clerk said. well, then, it's not really an event now, is it?

something occurred to me while driving. i was overwhelmed with gratitude that i didn't have to work in a furniture store, especially one in renton. i was glad i didn't have to work in retail at all. i was glad i didn't have to live in renton. "yeah," meagan said, "that's what bothers me about seattle. i love the city and all, but everything around it like northgate, issaquah, renton and tukwila just bothers me." we decided to eat at baja fresh. we ordered the usual meal we get when we're both super hungry: two burrito ultimos, no meat, an order of nachos, also no meat, and one small drink. people who get medium and large drinks are just lazy. first of all, you waste money because refills are free, and second, you're showing the world you're too lazy to get up and walk a few feet to get a free refill.

we went to ikea because i needed a shower curtain. i always like looking through the as-is section, though, so we went to that section first. meagan spotted this dining room set which was advertised for $45. "wait," i said, "is that for the whole thing, or for each piece?" the four chairs and the table were marked at $45, so we assumed $45 covered the whole deal. we debated about how we would fit it into meagan's tiny paseo, and how we would actually go about purchasing an as-is item. while growing more confused and scatterbrained, i suddenly remembered the real reason we had come: "i need a shower curtain!"

we trekked over to the bathroom section, with meagan all the while panicking that someone would snatch up the $45 dining table. "it'll still be there," i assured her, "no one's gonna take it in 15 minutes." "no," she countered, "emily once wanted a desk from the fremont market; she left it for like 5 minutes, and it was gone when she got back." after hearing this, i joined in her panic that we would lose out on such a fabulous deal, so i upped my pace. when we got to the shower curtain section, i told her, "just pick out the first one you like. don't even think about it." an older indian couple found this amusing, but stepped aside to allow us to frantically search through the different patterns. we settled on a grey/gold/brown polka-dotted pattern.

when we got back to the as-is section, the table was still there. i asked a clerk how we would go about purchasing and having it taken apart so that it would fit in the car. the clerk was a bitter long-haired man, and he told me to load it on a flat cart. "what about having it taken apart?" i asked. he looked even more annoyed. "you'll have to decide that after purchasing." eager to get as far away from this most bitter individual, i practically ran across aisles, looking for the first available flat cart i could find. i found an empty one, and rushed back to meet meagan, guarding the dining table. i loaded it onto the cart, while meagan watched. i dropped one, and she laughed. "a little help," i said. "sorry," she said, "i didn't know you were going to be stacking the chairs!"

"this is what i hate about going to ikea," i said. "you come for a shower curtain and you end up getting a whole dining table set." meagan ended up carrying two chairs to the register, but then i realized we weren't even in line. when we got in the right line, this fat woman with a green chair came up to us. "you know that dining room chairs are 25% off? you have to go back there and ask the clerk to put the discount stickers on," she said. "but the chairs come with the table," meagan said. "oh. i don't know then. you might just want to ask." "i'll go ask," meagan said. meagan came back with disappointing news. "the chairs are sold separately," she said. "do you still think it'd be worth it?" "no," i said.

i unloaded the table and chairs. dropping one of them again for the third time. "i'll go put them back," meagan said, defeated. "no!" i told her. i always hate it when she gets the idea that she's supposed to do a retail clerk's job. having worked retail for many years, i hated it when i had to put stuff back, but that was about 50% of the job. work sucks, but retail work especially sucks for that specific reason. people who work retail need to learn to hate their jobs, i mean really hate them. so, as a customer, i say fuck putting stuff back. "you're not putting that back," i said again. "this is a giant fucking corporation!" she gave up at that point. an older man nearby acknowledged that he heard my little hissyfit. for a moment, i worried that he was a manager, but then i realized i didn't really care if he was.

we drove back into the city, first stopping off at omar and mogwai's house. the dogs were jumping up all over the fence and i did a little dance in front of omar, mocking him. i grabbed my stuff, and borrowed emily's air mattress. it's a queen-sized eddie bauer self-inflating mattress, and it's actually kind of cool. john and emily had warned me that there was a leak in the mattress, and that i would have to patch it up. "so, it'll deflate on me?" i asked. "yeah, it'll deflate, but probably not until you wake up."

it didn't deflate all that much. in my new columbia city studio apartment, i slept the whole night through.

1 comment:

EasilyEntertained said...

Dude, all I gotta say is....buy a foam thingy for your mattress. I got one yesterday, but night of sleep i've ever had. No joke.