May 23, 2008

"Table" Rasa

tabula rasa NOUN: pl. (tab-u-lae ra-sae) The mind before it receives the impressions gained from experience.

table rasa NOUN: (tey-buhl ra-sae)The table that is still missing from our dining room, four months after ordering it.

OK…I tried. I tried to stay away from mass market retail stores for large purchases. Really. I think it’s important to support local businesses in these days of proliferating strip malls and megastores (not that I don’t love me some Target, but you need to mitigate by supporting the little guys).

M. and I decided to combine our living and dining areas into the living room (more on that later), which required finding a round, 48” dining table. We wanted something solid, something non-veneered, and something with a pedestal bottom so we could jam another person or two around it. So we went with our very specific list of requirements to a great local furniture store (who will remain nameless since this saga takes an ugly turn). They had the perfect table, even had a lovely hammered top, and it would be delivered in two weeks. Yay!

That was in January.

To make an extremely long and somewhat annoying story short, I sat home not one, but two Fridays to accept delivery of the table. And not once, but twice no table -- and I had to call the store to find out what happened. They never called me to say, “Whoops! Sorry you blew your whole day waiting on us!”

After a couple of subsequent calls (by me, of course), turns out the manufacturer kept sending them tables that arrived warped. They really couldn’t say when the manufacturer would be able to ship, and what condition it would be in, so they recommended a different table. It cost more, but they’d be happy to eat the price difference to pay me back for my troubles. Great!

That was in March.

I think what was most annoying is that over these past four months, they called me twice (and both times it was only returning my calls!). Any other time I called I was greeted with, “let me call you back in 10 minutes” or some other brush off (in fairness, I’m not so sure it was a brush off, or a complete inability to conduct business). And nada. M. brought up the perfect analogy – it’s like the fabulous Monty Python “Cheese Shop” sketch. “You are a cheese shop?” is asked to the owner who has not a single cheese in stock. It’s like, “You do sell furniture, don’t you?!”

So this week I called them for the last time. To cancel my order.

I found this table from Pottery Barn that is now the likely contender. It’s veneer, but a textured one that’s, “built to endure daily family dining.” So surely it can endure M. and I and our rowdy guests:

Plus, it has a leaf and the more we think about it (especially now that we’ve had a chance to live in the house a bit) we could use the flexibility of having a larger table when we need. I think it’s a winner?

It’s a bit more than I wanted to spend (I’m thrifty, after all) but at the end of the day it’s a major piece that we hope to have for a good long while. Plus, our chairs only cost about $50 each brand spanking new so I feel a little better.

I guess the moral of the story is: As much as it’s good to embrace the new little guy on the block, sometimes you just have to go back to old trusted friend for what you need.


Courtney said...

I hope you have better luck this time...third table's a charm, right? I think you'll like the flexibility of having a leaf for it, too.

Laura said...

Third time IS a charm! The table is ordered and will be here (hopefully!) next week, and we love the leaf. Much better!!