Friday, March 12, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Grocery Store

As things go here in Romania, there is always an unexpected craziness of some sort waiting just around the corner. And because I have a big bullseye on my head that says Please Bring on the Crazy, well, it's just one big adventure all up in this place.

I decided that I wanted to buy some kind of extra storage cabinet for our living room. My roommate has loads of books for her masters classes, tutoring, and teaching, and we just don't have enough space. And since I'm personally not a fan of the dining room table being the solution for storage, I decided it was time to try to investigate other options. So off I went to the used furniture store. This is just a big 'ol mess of stuff in a big 'ol room. Totally hit or miss, but the hits can be really stellar. I think maybe I can find something that would double as a coffee table, as I'm also always wanting someplace to put my tea cup while sitting on the couch. This is no minor detail; I drink a lot of tea.

And lo and behold I find the perfect little cabinet! I look it up and down, and am satisfied with the condition, but it doesn't have a price tag, and there is no key in the lock to open the door of it. I try not to get my hopes up, lest it be way more money than I want to pay, and I politely ask a man how much it costs. He looks it over and tells me 30 lei. I'm not sure I hear him correctly at first, because that seems like a STEAL! That's basically $10. Definitely interested.

Then I ask for the key. This presents a bit of a problem. He tells me "imediat," ie, He will get it immediately. Great. So I roam about the place, looking to see if there are any fun kitchen finds. Before I know it there are men scurrying hither and thither, and I'm all, What The Heck? They're all looking for the key. No, not THE key, ANY key that will fit. They're taking keys from all the furniture and trying it on my little cabinet. None of them work. The situation gets a little more frantic as a man brings out a grocery bag full of keys of all shapes and sizes, pours them out on the ground, and sets to trying them. He's pounding and twisting and jerking and I'm standing there thinking, Dude, I'm totally not buying this if I have to POUND IT to get the key to work. And by the way I'M STANDING RIGHT HERE. Just walk Liz, walk away. Let the men do their men thing.

I silently wish I had my camera to document the 3 men huddled around the tiny cabinet with keys strewn all over the floor.

I have now roamed and re-roamed the place, finding nothing else of interest, and they're still going at it. Except now they seem to be intent on simply prying the lock open. I don't really know what to do, because in America, where I speak the language, I would have many more words at my disposal for discussing this situation. But my Romanian vocabulary doesn't so much include a lot of words about wood and lock breaking. So I just hover.

Now they have a new idea, or so it would seem because they flip over the cabinet and start to take it apart. I'm completely confused now, and so I definitely have to ask what the heck they're doing, even though I'm pretty sure I won't understand the response. And that is exactly what happens.

The back is basically made of particle board, so it's splintering as they're trying to take it off, and I'm just like SERIOUSLY? Seriously. You're taking a lei off the price with each splinter, pal. I deduce that they just want to get the lock open and are hoping to be able to do so if they take the back off. I have no idea how long this is going to go on, so I tell them I'm going to the grocery store and will be back in an hour to get it. Good? Good.

So I get my groceries, get a taxi, and go back to the furniture store. And there it sits, all put back together, unlocked permanently since the best key they could find would only turn half way. I check to make sure it will actually stay shut and not flop open, and finding that it will, I decide it's still ok. The dude comes out and I ask him if I can have it for 20 lei instead of 30 since it's broken. He says he's not allowed to negotiate price, and the manager is gone. Now that seems like a silly system. Then I suggest maybe he CALL the manager to ask about the price. Never occurred to the dude. But he chugs off to go inside and call the manager. He comes back and says he can do 25. Done and done.

Off I go to my house, and sure enough, soon as I bring it into the living room I drop it and the door busts off. Excellent work. Thankfully it's just on a hinge so I can put it back together. I move it next to our dining room table and it looks like this:

But as I'm sitting on the couch, I'm just not satisfied. I don't like where it is, and for ages I've not liked the fact that we have one big huge room with furniture around the perimeter. 

The creative juices start flowing and in the end all of my issues are solved. We have storage, we have a nicely separated "living room" space, and we have a place to put my tea cup when I sit on the couch.

The end.


Karen Connor said...

You rock. Totally what I would have done. I'm slightly addicted to rearranging furniture :)

Hayley said...

Oh! I like the new arrangement! Way to make use of all that space... too fun :).