Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Adventures in Estyland

I am writing this prematurely, as the chair below is not yet reassembled. But sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind.

My husband's chair -- daddy's chair, as it is known -- is in a shambles. Threadbare and collapsing. It was his dad's recliner before he died three years ago. I was on the hunt for a replacement. Something that might work with our funky bamboo stuff. Something that, like our futon and bamboo stuff, might have cushions separate from the frame, so the cushions could be replaced if they wore out while the frame was still good. We are hard on things. We are fat and young at heart and thoughtless and we abuse our belongings. I had no interest in plunking down $500 on another recliner, just to watch it get destroyed. I looked online some, Ikea and JC Penny... and I was struggling a bit. I started looking at vintage chairs on Etsy. I found some cool stuff, but a lot of it was out of my price range (search for "mid-century Danish" for an idea of what I was looking at. But then I found this...

Bent Cane Rocking Chair. Perfect fit, no? The price was right so I jumped on it. I didn't even check with Dan. I told him that if he doesn't like it enough to be a replacement for his recliner, we can instead toss the glider rocker that is also falling apart.

The day after I ordered it, I got a message from the seller about how he was going to go to UPS and get a shipping quote -- he was worried about the cost of shipping. There was something about that message that peeved me. There was nothing in the listing about contacting the seller for a shipping quote prior to payment; I checked. I didn't want him telling me I had to pay him a pile of money above what he had charged. If he was going to do that, I would tell him to forget it -- give me a refund. But I sat on it and held my tongue, waiting to see what he would have to say after going to UPS. Less than 24 hours later, he wrote again and said that UPS wanted a ridiculous amount of money and he had walked out of the place. He had another solution, Greyhound Package Express. This would mean I would have to go to the nearest Greyhound station to pick up the chair (which was disassembled and flat-packed). Greyhound is about 10 miles away, in a pretty rough town nearby and not my favorite place to go. But if it meant saving a buttload of money, I was game.

Yesterday I got the call that the package had arrived at the station. After asking about their business hours I decided the best choice would be for me to go during my lunch break today. I wasn't too worried about getting it into the car, I am able bodied enough, it's not that hefty of a chair, and I have a big trunk. No worries. It took me a bit to find the station. I missed a turn and had to make a bit of a loop into neighborhoods that, to be honest, make me nervous. Anyway, I found the place after calling them to ask for a landmark and when I got there, there was just one little old lady working there. She had put together who I was based on our conversations on the phone and had me sign for the package without asking for my ID or even my name. Then a man standing in the lobby area walked over to the package and asked me where I was headed with it -- after telling me that the Greyhound lady said I sounded like a little girl on the phone. I said there's nothing little about me and he said there's nothing wrong with that. He picked up the box and we walked out to my car. We talked a bit and it turns out that he had been waiting there for an hour and a half to help me. I had told Greyhound Lady that I would be there around lunchtime, but it was 1:30. She told him she thought I might need help getting it into my car. I felt terrible that he had waited so long. He said not to worry, he worked for quarters. Then he chuckled a little. He was too clean to be homeless. Like homeless homeless. Park bench homeless. He didn't smell like that. He may live in a shelter or government housing. But he was doing this because he needed money. He didn't say so, but you know. Anyway, I didn't have any change. I knew I had a 20 dollar bill, so I walked back into the station with him to see if I could get some change. But then I decided, hell with it, and I gave him the 20. He said no. He said we could go get change. I said no. He said "don't do this to me." I turned toward him and asked, "why? You did a nice thing for me. I want you to have it." He asked if I could really afford it. I shrugged and said yeah, sure (sort of lying but I had it and I get paid in a week so...). I told him to have a nice lunch. We hugged. I honestly couldn't tell you who initiated the hug. It just happened. Then I did something really weird. I said "God bless you." I never say that shit. I don't know if there's a god or not (I think not more days than not). But if there is a god, this man deserves a blessing.

Isn't it funny how these things happen? If I hadn't ordered that chair on one of my favorite sites on the great miracle that is The Internet, I never would have met this man -- and I don't even know his name -- but our encounter gave me such a nice feeling. I hope to hang onto that.

Now I just hope the chair is worth a damn ;)


liv said...

Fingers crossed. Lovely story, Steph. Made me smile, thanks for sharing :)

Ms. Moon said...

That chair is already worth a damn.
This is the sort of experience I live for. People who go out of their way to help and then you make connections with them that are as swift and deep as a river's current and then gone and nothing left but the realization that really, people can be very, very fine in the heart.

Denise Emanuel Clemen said...

Sweet encounter. The chair will probably always remind you of that.

NOLA said...

The universe is abundant indeed!

I took a class on how to make those chairs - I forgot about that. Hope you enjoy!

N. said...

Can you tell me more about this chair? I looked up bent cane rocking chair and yours was the only one that looked like the chair I'm interested in. All the other hits were more of the elder person type, lol. How has yours held up? Do you wish you had a cushion for it?