Jill and I recently visited a small furniture store in Yakima. We’re looking to buy a new “dining room” table to replace the serviceable, yet aging un-gracefully, Target special that Jill’s owned since her undergraduate days. We had about given up on finding one that would match the whitewashed cabinets in our kitchen until we stumbled into this store. We found the perfect table–not too large, well-done hardwood (ash) construction, simple design features, and hand-made. The price…well, not cheap, but given the tables that we had looked at elsewhere and their cost, this one will be well worth it.
The reason I bring it up, however, is to recall the salesman, who made the experience even more special. I’ve worked in a customer relations capacity before, and I know how difficult it is, as well as how rewarding it can be for both sides of the fence, as servicer and servicee. I especially like to be able to get to know someone, to be able to trust their opinions or to have my opinions trusted. This fellow more than met my assessment–he wasn’t pushy, yet he knew we were there to get a table. He knew that we had found what we were looking for, yet he wasn’t determined to get a check from us on that day. Part of this is from his knowledge that his stock held up against any other dealer’s stock, but mostly because he knew that we were looking for something in particular, and if he didn’t have it, nothing he could do would change our minds, yet if he had it, that we would be back to buy it. Such a basic understanding of how people think that is slowly being eroded today because of assembly-line manufacturing and selling.
This salesman reminded me of Lovejoy, and Lovejoy reminded me of him. Part of it was his knowledge. The store had been opened by his parents in 1948. The salesman himself had received a design degree in college, and worked for years in Seattle at furniture stores there before returning home to Yakima to take on the family store when his parents retired. He could rattle off the furniture styles and manufacturers with abandon, knowing quality, yet also realizing that one person’s treasure is another’s horror. You could tell the man enjoyed his profession.
Which doesn’t say a lot about the book, does it? Although Lovejoy novels are sold as mysteries (and have some mystery elements), I read them for the language and the comedy. There’s plenty here.
[Finished 17 June 1994]