the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur (plonq) wrote,
the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur
plonq

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"Limited Edition"

Back in the dark ages when I earned minimum wage in the warehouse of a furniture store, I saw things that man was not meant to see. It was my first proper education in crookedness and cynicism. I would like to say that I wasn't implicit at times, but sometimes buyers are their own worse enemies. I would normally say caveat emptor, but at some point people need to learn that you get what you pay for. When that full dining room set was only $150, don't act all surprised when you discover a year down the road that the only reasons there are heads on about a quarter of the screws holding the cheap brass chairs together is because the harried lad down in the warehouse squirted quite glue into the hole when yet another screw head sheared off during assembly.

One of my favourite memories (and greatest moments of shame) surrounds a wall unit that came in one afternoon though. These were, for the most part, fairly decent-quality units compared to a lot of the other "consumer" products we'd been getting in around that time -- which was a shame, since our company had built its reputation on quality rather than price. I'd unloaded a 40' trailer of them into our warehouse earlier that morning, signing for them as being in good condition because none of the boxes were visibly damaged. George - one of our older, crankier salesmen - came down just as I was sweeping up after and marked a few of them to be brought up to the showroom.

The first four were in good shape, notwithstanding some minor scuffs that I buffed out, or painted over with the touch-up lacquer that came with the units. When I unpacked the last one though, I noticed a slight problem. Like all the other units, it was a typical 7' tall cabinet with lighted glass shelves, drawers on the lower half, and glass doors enclosing the top half to keep pets and children out of ones precious dishes and knick-knacks. The problem was that the doors did not appear to be there.

The hinges were there, with little shards of class still clamped firmly into them to suggest that doors might once have been there, but there was no sign of the actual doors. On closer inspection I finally found them. What had once been doors was now a residue on the bottom of the packing box. There was no single piece larger than one inch square, and much of it had actually been pounded to powder in transit. I was instantly seized by panic. "I signed for these things as being in good condition, and this one is anything but good condition." If I had been thinking clearly, I would probably have concluded that we probably had insurance to cover things like this. At the time I was more concerned about covering my ass.

I finished unpacking the unit and inspected it for other damage. Surprisingly enough, other than the powdered doors the rest of cabinet was in immaculate condition. I wandered back to the receiving office and returned moments later with a screwdriver, which I used to carefully remove the hinges and catches where the doors would once have been. I had also brought a can of Spackle with me, which I dabbed into the holes where I had removed the screws. After it dried, I sanded it smooth to match the rest of the surface. Finally I cracked open the little jar of touch-up paint that came with the unit and delicately painted over the Spackle. I stepped back and inspected my handiwork, and I approved. If I had not known in advance that the unit was supposed to have doors, I would never have known that they were missing.

Later that day, I passed George up on the display floor. He was holding an invoice in one hand, and looking up and down between the invoice in his hand and the cabinet. He caught sight of me before I could sneak away. Without any preamble he simply barked at me, "Where's the doors? This one is supposed to have doors."

"Obviously it doesn't," I replied cagily.

"Well it's supposed to. The fucking model number matches the invoice. What did you do with the doors?"

I debated trying to keep the ruse going, but for all his gruffness at times, I liked George. I told him about the powdered doors and touch-up paint. He was not the least bit happy with my explanation.

"So what the fuck am I supposed to do with it now?" I shrugged.

"... sell it?" I offered weakly.

And he did.

He marked it at full price as a "Limited Edition" doorless unit. I overheard him extolling its virtues to a customer the next day. "Usually they come with doors, but if you don't have pets or kids, sometimes you don't want the doors getting in the way between you and your dishes..."

I don't know if those are the people who bought it, but shortly afterwards somebody did.
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