Tuesday, December 23, 2008

a warm tale, complete with shopping

So I spend more on groceries because there's no Trader Joe's and Whole Foods gets my dollars exclusively. So the oil refineries and drainage trenches sometimes kick up a powerful smell. So I saw a man trading a horse on the way to get my eyebrows waxed the other day (and the time before that, a yard full of cows).

Nothing can take away from the fact that this Houston place is great. It really is. They say it's the people. I agree.

Forget designing on a dime. I'm designing on eight cents. Furniture-wise, I need almost everything. It'll be a couple more months before I have the grandeur of a sofa, but the budget does allow for less expensive things, like a desk. Today I went in search of. I started in the place where I always start, Craig's List. Let me tell you, I owe that website my life. It's where I found my job, a good friend, all kinds of furniture over the years, the house I live in.... Craig Newmark, I bless your eyes.

Last night I found listings by a place called OMI Plus. OMI stands for Office Makers Incorporated, which is exactly right, because I needed to make me an office. Post haste. Teaching and editing and writing on the floor? Not so much. There are things you can do forever when you're 20, but forever ends, halted by back pain, when you're over 40. So I went out to OMI with the goal of getting off the floor. I had $150 that said Make my day.

OMI is family owned and operated, and carries both new and used office furniture. Based on their website, which I visited after seeing their CL listings, they seemed to have a good selection of used stuff, especially chairs, and I thought it'd be worth the trip even if all I found was a chair. Plus, I'd seen this on the site:

Oh mama. You know I wanted this orange delight.

At first they thought it was at their storage facility, then they realized it was long gone. I didn't cry too hard, because Sharon, the manager lady, had already told me she'd sell me another chair that I liked (not as much, but a lot) for 20 bucks.

The search for a desk was harder. OMI mostly serves corporate/professional clients, so even their prices on used desks were out of my range. That, or out of my taste since I don't necessarily want my living room looking like an insurance company. And, how I thought this was possible I don't know, I wanted to buy something that would fit in my car. Along with the chair. And possibly a file cabinet. My car is a car. Not a truck or an SUV, but rather, a Camry. After a while I came across a table. It had a drawer, making it enough like a desk. It measured 60x24, so I figured I might have a shot at getting it home. It was marked 119, but Sharon said it could be mine for 99. And get this, she would throw in the 20 dollar chair for free. I told her the only caveat was the table had to go in my car somehow, some way.

One of the warehouse guys, a baby-faced Latino who is training to be a firefighter (I know because we spent lots of time together), said he thought he could get it in. He joined with another guy, and the two quickly found that the back seat of a Camry is no place for a table. When it wouldn't fit, the future fireman thought he could put it in this little old truck that was parked next to my car, follow me home and drop it off for me, free of charge. But the owner, Thomas, came out and said the truck was too much of a beater to be trusted in rush-hour traffic. He said it was an unserviced 1971 something or other, and that he'd only bought it to paint the company's name on it and keep it parked out front for advertising. If I'd lived close to OMI, or if it'd been earlier in the day, he would've taken a chance. The guys took the table back inside. Then I got the idea to open my trunk and let the back seat down. I asked Thomas what he thought. He said it could work if they could get the legs off the table.

Now, already you can see why I say the people here are so nice. Compared to what their typical customer spends, I was spending peanuts, but these folks went out of their way to accommodate me. It took three drills and 45 minutes for the firefighter to get the legs off my table. Then another fifteen to get it situated in my car. By then I'd bartered in a file cabinet for another 50 bucks (and a little metal tabletop book stand as a freebie). All of it had to be secured in my car, which Thomas and the firefighter did.

When I thanked them I told them I didn't know where else I'd be given such thoughtful customer service, especially without dropping serious bank. Thomas just said it was no problem; it was a slow day anyway. I offered to tip the firefighter, but he turned me down, saying, I just did it out of kindness.


Anonymous said...

A warm tale indeed! What service, what kindness? Didn't you just miss your old Volvo at that very moment?

So the story continues? How did it go at the other end?

What's the weather like this time of year?

Anonymous said...

Much too early to remember to sign my name.....jeez.


Alberto said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
woolanthropy said...

loves it.
woohoo off the floor.
now if you can find someone so kind as to reassemble.

Stacy said...

How wonderful! Sometimes the kindness of strangers is really warming, isn't it?

lsaspacey said...

Ooh, this Houston place sounds real nice.

lsaspacey said...

Ooh, this Houston place sounds real nice.

Anonymous said...