Monday, August 11, 2008

The Barbara Supremacy

For our anniversary gift to each other J and I went shopping today for a dining room set that would seat 8. Who would have thought it would be so hard to find a large table with all wooden chairs??? Our quest took us to Oklahoma City after we struck out early on in Woodward's two furniture stores. We first stopped at a HUGE furniture store (that shall remain un-named). As we entered the cavernous warehouse-like store, we immediately noted the ominous presence of sharply dressed sales personnel slyly waiting in every nook and cranny. Their glowing eyes bored into us as the drool dripped from their fangs. Okay, so they weren't that bad, but they were ready to pounce...and, really, J and I do not look like big spenders. You could smell the desperation in the air. Avoiding eye contact, we proceeded directly to the information counter and inquired as to the location of dining sets. The receptionist directed us upstairs and then suggested we take the elevator to our right. We were approached by "Bob" before we even made it to the elevator. "Heading up to children's furniture, I see," Bob said obviously referring to Haven who had accompanied us on our quest. "Dining set, actually," I said just as the elevator doors closed. Jason and I both expressed relief at having dodged our first over-zealous salesman...then the elevator arrived at the second floor and the doors opened. Sales personnel were huddled in small groups waiting, eerily resembling vultures just waiting for prey. We were immediately approached by "Barbara" who pointed us to the dining sets, but didn't accompany us there. What luck! Unfortunately, Bob was there lurking amid the tables and chairs. Maybe dining rooms were just his area? Jason and I passed a couple of sets, then paused to look at a possibility. "That's a good, quality brand," Bob, who was now standing only a foot or two behind Jason, piped in. J made the appropriate non-committal, almost verbal response and we moved on to the next set. I looked up from the price tag to see Barbara approaching at break-neck speed. "Okay," she announced, "I looked that up for them. How are you doing?" What? Looked what up for who??? Obviously she must be addressing Bob. But why was she looking at me, then? "I'm helping them," said Bob, following even more closely on J's heels. "They're my customers," insisted Barbara. "I got them when they got off the elevator." "I put them on the elevator!" exclaimed Bob, clearly miffed. "Oh, do you want them?" "Just forget it!" By now Bob was walking off in a huff. "Bob!" called Barbara. "Bob, I mean it, now, just come on back here!" But Bob was gone. I was so embarrassed I didn't know what to do. Really, I'm not sure why either one of them felt they had the right to claim us as customers...and what did Bob mean by "I put them on the elevator..."??? I'm pretty sure we got on of our own volition. We continued to shop, ignoring Barbara as much as possible. After narrowing our choices to two possibles, Barbara was paged and we slipped away.
We were greeted right away when we entered the second large store. We were both slightly disconcerted when the salesperson who introduced himself to us claimed to remember Haven. "You do?" I asked. "Sure!" he grinned. "From where?" asked Jason. "From the last time you guys came in," he replied. After an awkward pause, Jason informed him that we'd never been in the store before. "John" remembered helping a couple several months earlier who had a preemie on a monitor and had mistaken us. He turned out to be quite helpful and not at all pushy.
Fast forward to store number three where we were assisted by an effeminate salesman that Jason could not get away from quickly enough. He gamely showed us every fru-fru, overpriced table he had including their custom line. After we shot him down, he directed us next door to store number four. The salesman there must've had us pegged as cheapskates, because he told us right off the bat that he had nothing we'd be interested in. we've gone from having stalkers to basically being turned away at the door.
At store number five we were assisted by "Mary," an older woman carrying what appeared to be a see-through purse. Even though choice of bag and ridiculous shoes concerned me, we described what we were looking for and she (much to our shock and delight) led us straight to 3 sets that were exactly what we were looking for. On the downside, Mary must have been related to a hover craft. It was impossible to talk over our options because she was constantly there, offering input and even giving demonstrations of the worthiness of the table and its chairs. She offered us beverages, shined the wood with her sleeve, re-arranged chairs, tapped away at her calculator...her desperation embarrassed me, but we loved the table and bought it anyway.
So, we got our large table. It will seat eight and isn't "rustic." The chairs are not plain wood, but are covered in leather (which will wipe off). And all it took was 5 stores, 4 hours, 3 Dirks', 2 fighting sales people, and one fashion challenged sales woman to accomplish it! I need a nap.

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