Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Furniture store

I have been doing a lot of furniture shopping lately. My wife and I venture off into one furniture store after another. My focus is only partly on the furniture. I like the air conditioning. I like the sitting. I am keenly interested in the music. Often the music is jazz. Sometimes it is very good. Hip places these days are intensely focused on mid modern, which covers, in practice if not by definition, furniture and design and suchlike from the late 50s to maybe the mid seventies. I know some of this stuff from childhood. Time and memory has made it hideous and charming. For music in these places it is Big band, rat pack sixties, and the non-rock pop of the era. It's all pretty entertaining.

The workers too at furniture stores interest me. They are not clerks. Indeed, they belong to a different genus than clerks. They are sales people.  Clerks tend to be in complicated tension with Capitalism. Sales people are an ultimate expression of Capitalism. These furniture folk seem to mostly be commissioned sales people. Their very livelihood mainly depends upon you actually buying stuff as they attend upon you. A clerk's livelihood mainly depends upon you not shooting them, that and upon their ability to live on a modest budget. But what I really think of for an analogy is from the animal kingdom. Clerks are like, um, maybe beetles. You know, like, look at that little beetle! It's so cute and industrious rolling that dung around! Or, look at that little beetle, it's so shiny! Why is it just sitting there? Is it dead? Poke it.

Furniture sales people are like spiders. 

You walk in the store, maybe you touch a fabric. A reverberation sounds out through all the fabrics and deep into the store. Suddenly a sales person appears right before you to ask if you need help. You never see them move fast, but they can be right up close at a moments notice, instantly at your right hand, attendant, ready, with a claim and possession. A gruff "Just looking" sends them back deep into a quiet heart of the store. Where is it, that quiet heart? I don't know, but start to like something, have a question, or just remain in the store long enough, and there, instantly, they are again.

Yes, yes, I know they are not spiders. They do not want to wrap you in a cocoon of death and suck the life juices out of you. They do not want to eat you. While a couple of these sales people were alarmingly offensive, I found most of the sales people to be nice and, on the surface, not so dissimilar from clerks, good clerks that is. They could be caring, helpful, and at our service. But these sales people do care just a little bit more, and though, in the best of them, you will never see it, there is a gleam in their eye, an avid, hungry gleam. Of course they want to eat you. Everyone's gotta eat. It's not personal.

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