Labor Day Labor of Love – The Christmas Catastrophe

The events of recent days have made me realize that my blog, subtitled “Intentional living in the theatre and beyond” is endowed with actual fate-bending powers. I know that sounds ridiculous, but listen to the next installment of the elusive couch. First, I just have to say that it boggles my mind that in 2014, in the United States, and in Los Angeles, that one would not be able to acquire a simple sectional sofa in four month’s time. Right? Crazy!

As promised by Jason, the kindly Crate and Barrel salesman,  I received the call on Wednesday, December 18th to schedule delivery of my couch. I was meeting with one of my stage management students when the phone rang. I had been waiting for the call about the delivery of the sofa, so when I saw the unfamiliar San Pedro number come up on my cell, I snatched it from the top of my paper-encrusted desk and excused myself to my student.

“Hello,” came the cheery voice. “This is name-inaudible-due-to-my-excitement from Crate and Barrel to let you know the delivery window for your couch.” I was so excited that all I heard was “Crate and Barrel.” “Your couch,” she crooned, “will arrive on Friday afternoon between 1:30 and 3:30PM. Are you still able to take delivery then? They are loading the truck and want to make sure you can still accept the delivery at that time.”

“Yes, of course,” I replied happiness burbling in my chest cavity. “Thank you so much!” I hung up the phone and resumed the meeting with my student. After he left, I called home and gave my husband the good news.

All was happiness and light.

Cut to Thursday afternoon. The phone rang again, another unfamiliar number. A little more warily, I picked up the phone only to hear a young woman say, “Hello, this is Diongo from Crate and Barrel.” Uh oh. This cannot be good.

“I’m sorry to inform you that only one portion of your couch made it onto the truck from our Northern California facility, so tomorrow, you will only be receiving the chaise portion of your sofa order. The earliest date that the missing sofa piece can be delivered is December 27th. I’m terribly sorry for the inconvenience.”

I was stupified. I have to say that generally because of what I do for a living – production manage multiple shows a year, I usually receive difficult news with a pretty accepting demeanor. However, consider what I was up against on this couch set back:

1) We had ordered the couch on Sept. 1. Granted this is another vendor, but now I’m being told I won’t have the couch til Dec. 27th.

2) I am about to have 9 uninterrupted days off from work. All I want in the world is to sit down and put my feet up next to my husband.

3) My 83-year-old father is on his way from DC with his wife to spend Christmas with us. We now have 3 people over 80 years old and only two marginally comfortable chairs.

4) I have given my old couch away. That night, my colleague Hannah and her husband Patrick and two kids were coming over for dinner and to take the old couch away. Sort of like a barn-raising but in reverse. I cannot change the plan as this is the second time I’ve arranged the dinner and couch take-away plan. I do not want to disappoint them.

“I’m sorry, can you please repeat your name to me?”

“Djongo.”

“Diongo, this is completely unacceptable. I have no couch and I have family coming for Christmas. How could this have happened? Can you arrange for a loaner sofa until mine arrives? I really do not have anything for my family to sit on.”

“Let me see what I can do. It will take me a little while to figure out something, so please bear with me.”

By now, I am babbling to her about how I have been through this terrible ordeal with another company who didn’t provide the couch and we had to cancel, blah blah blah, all the while thinking – she doesn’t care. Stop talking. She is now repeating that the earliest date she can deliver the other half of the sofa is December 27th, which is the day my father and his wife leave.

That’s when it hits me – my blog has supernatural powers. It has awakened in the cosmos a certain schadenfreude about the happy improvement plan I have undertaken in my living room. “No, she can’t get her sofa before Christmas! That would be too easy! Let’s see just how much we can challenge her and see what she’s made of.”

After hanging up with Djongo, I finished work and took the bus home. Bursting through the door of the apartment, I barely spoke to my husband, but strode to the side table, where I pulled out the Crate and Barrel folder with the receipt for the sofa. Name of salesperson…… Ah, Jason. That’s what I needed. I snatched up the phone and dialed the number for the store, so I could give Jason a piece of my mind. Jason, who had promised that we would get our sofa by Christmas. Jason, to whom I had explained the whole painful West Elm story, whom I had befriended with my misery, who had calmly, confidently  and professionally sold us the sofa that would be in our home before Christmas. Jason, who was about to hear from me…The phone rang once, then twice, then:
“Hello, Crate and Barrel, this is Diongo speaking. How can I help you?”

All the petulant impetus for my call was instantly deflated. I have to tell you, if I were a furniture store manager, I would hire Diongo to be my customer service rep in a heartbeat.  She has a reasonable, pleasant demeanor. She thinks well on her feet. When I asked to speak with Jason, she said, “May I tell him who’s calling?” Sheepishly, I said my name and reminded her that we had spoken earlier. I told her “I wanted to speak with Jason because he promised me we would have our sofa and we won’t now have it before Christmas.” Patiently, she repeated what she said she was working on – finding a loaner or close out sofa we could use until our real one arrived on the 27th. “I’m happy to put you through to Jason if you’d like, but after the transaction leaves the seller, it’s really all about the delivery department and the seller doesn’t know what’s happening. At this point, I will be working to reach a solution on this.  Beat of silence as I flagellated my inner mean girl for wanting to let Jason have it. “No, I guess you will be the one who can help us straighten this out, so I don’t need to talk with Jason after all. Thanks, Diongo.”

She continued. “I will call you back later to let you know how my search is going.”

And she did. The manager had not approved the loaner, but she was looking for the actual item to get it scheduled before the 25th. I have faith in Diongo.

In the meantime, the chaise arrived today. I am writing this while sitting on it. It is paired awkwardly with one of the small veronica taper leg chairs from West Elm. It faces the TV. My husband took the maiden nap on it this afternoon.  And I just got off the phone with Diongo, who has arranged for delivery of an armless loveseat from the store in a complimentary color to our new chaise so that we all have a place to sit for Christmas.

I hesitate to tell my fate-bending blog of my intentions lest she throw another wrench into the works. But I think it’s going to be all right.

Would love to hear what you are thinking!

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