Several years ago I graduated from law school and moved to the BIG city with nothing but a dance belt and a tube of chapstick to call my own (please see Waiting For Guffman if you have not already). I had no furniture. None, whatsoever. And suddenly, I had an apartment that I needed to fill.
Unfortunately, I also had no money. I had spent my twenties sinking every penny I could get my hands on into education and traversing the couchsurfing world and now that I was done with school I had taken a government job in the state judiciary, which SPOILER ALERT did not pay me one million dollars.
Suddenly feeling the need to furnish my adulthood in one fell swoop felt incredibly daunting. I had moved to Salt Lake City with a law school friend, Matthew, who was in the same position as me and so the two of us went on a quest to find as much free furniture as possible to fill our 7th floor two-bedroom apartment on Broadway Ave.
We found this and that, here and there. Grandma furniture. Old lamps that needed to be taped up. Tea kettles, Venetian masks, and Snuggies. The usual things.
And then we hit a gold mine. My uncle Will and his best friend Andrea found out that we were looking for furniture so they ushered us to their homes to clear out their basements of furniture that had been occupying space down there since they replaced it with better pieces over the years.
I felt like I had just won the showcase showdown on The Price is Right. There were end tables and coffee tables and lamps and patio furniture and voodoo dolls. Everything a boy could want. Andrea told me I could only have this stuff under one condition: that I never try to bring it back.
The furniture wasn't anything particularly special. It was nice and in good condition, but it was stuff Will and Andrea had bought when they were young and had no money and had just moved to the big city and suddenly needed to fill their own apartments. So the furniture was pretty basic and probably not worth much on resale.
But I didn't care. They were my angels in that moment, and I graciously and gladly accepted everything I could take and have been grateful to them for nearly four years now for their generosity.
The one thing Matthew and I were not able to get our hands on was a couch. And so I bit the bullet and purchased the only piece of furniture I ever had to buy at that time. I found it in an outlet store for $245. It was blue, relatively comfortable, and it had a small tear on the side. And I freaking loved that couch.
Flash forward nearly four years. I've had time to settle into adulthood and relative financial stability. I've bought a home and started a 401k (WHATEVER THE HELL THAT IS!). And with that home purchase, I have suddenly found myself in a similar but different position of having to fill a new and much larger place with furniture, but this time not having to scrounge for free stuff quite as much.
I decided that it was probably time to replace that now-worn $245 couch that doesn't quite go with my new home. And so, a couple of months ago I began a never-ending quest to find a new couch.
You guys. PRIVILEGED WHINING ALERT. Searching for a couch is the most difficult thing that anyone could ever do ever. I'm not kidding you. No couch is ever just right. There is always something wrong. It's too big. It's too small. The material is weird. The color is terrible. It's way too expensive. It's way too inexpensive, which means something is probably wrong with it. There's an old lady laying on it. Etc.
Trying to find a couch that could work in my home has been much more time-consuming and complicated than I ever imagined.
And then, finally, on Saturday, I found it. A beam of light shone on it from above. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir could be heard singing in the background. It was perfect. It was the right size. It was on sale and the price was very reasonable. I liked the color. I sat on every part of it and practiced telling a joke and every time my joke was funny and my hair looked great.
I knew it was right for me.
So I told the couch man that I wanted to purchase it.
Couchman: Excellent choice sir. Let me see when we could have that delivered to you. Hmmm . . . looks like I could maybe get it to you BY THE END OF JUNE.
Eli: Come again?
Eli: As in, nearly four months from now?
Eli: As in, a third of a year?
Eli: As in, like, 110 days?
Couchman: You are super good at math. And calendars.
Out of principle, I told him I wasn't interested and I left the store.
I've purchased furniture from showrooms before, and it's always the same thing. You wander the stores for hours on end before you finally find something that could work for you. Then you tell the salesperson and they inevitably say some variation of "let me see if it's in stock." And every time this happens, it's a surprise to me.
"See if it's in stock?!" WHY WOULD YOU EVEN HAVE IT SITTING OUT IN YOUR STORE IF IT'S NOT IN STOCK?!
And it's never in stock. I am convinced that no piece of furniture in any furniture showroom store has ever been in stock in the history of furniture in the history of the entire world. They always have to do this whole song and dance where they order it from Japan and they act like they are doing you a huge favor by making this international transaction happen for you.
And somehow we let them get away with this! We thank them profusely and smile as much as possible in hopes that they will be extra careful and not mess up the order so you don't end up waiting four months for a box of cats to show up instead of a couch.
When I left that store on Saturday, I did so because I wanted the furniture store to see that we, the people of the world, are no longer going to put up with this. I did it for us all. I did it for the future generations so that one day, maybe, they'll be able to walk into a furniture store, buy something, and take it with them that day. I did it because sometimes you have to sacrifice something for the greater good. Sometimes you have to stand for what is right, even when it is difficult to do so. Sometimes you have to make the tough choices in the face of adversity.
But I really wanted the couch so I went back and ordered it yesterday.
~It Just Gets Stranger