This afternoon I had a rather bizarre experience at my local Raymour and Flanigan store. I'd decided to stop there while I was out running errands, because I still needed some kind of cool end table for the living room. And since I had some extra time, I thought it might be fun to casually walk through the furniture store to get some ideas for other aspects of my house as well. But once I stepped into the store, I got the immediate feeling that my time there would be anything but casual.
For once through the door, I was practically bombarded from all sides with requests for my attention. Like a swarm of bees converging on a target, it seemed like every salesperson in the store suddenly emerged from their sofa cocoons in order to help me. I smiled and politely declined their offers, hoping that everyone would just leave me alone while I browsed through the showroom of items.
No such luck. For no sooner had I begun walking around the showroom than I noticed one of the salespeople trailing behind me at a short distance. Not only that, but I noticed another salesperson on the other side of the floor begin to also move slowly in my direction. Crap! That meant they were both going to follow me through the store, hoping that when I needed help with something, one of them would definitely be close enough to answer my questions. And though part of me certainly appreciated their enthusiastic form of customer service (unlike the salespeople at say, Home Depot, who are not at all helpful…if you can even find one), I didn’t want to be monitored like a lab rat.
If you’ve ever been in a Raymour and Flanigin store, you’ll know the entire space is divided into small display rooms, giving you a first-hand feel of how your future furniture will look in a real house. This also means there are hundreds of doorways, walls and passages to get lost in while you’re looking through all the merchandise. Like a maze of "theme" rooms, it is entirely possible to get yourself lost while trying to find the right dresser or chair.
And this is exactly what I was hoping to do. I figured if I ducked into enough rooms, I could lose my ‘tagalongs’ by outmaneuvering them through the maze. So I began picking up my pace a little hoping to shake at least one of them off my tail. But as soon as I picked up speed, so did they. It wasn't until I was finally out of both of their lines of vision that I was able to make my escape. And that's when I literally began running through the next series of rooms, hoping to cover so much distance in a single bound that I would be on the other side of the store before they even knew I was gone. At one point, I found myself in a long corridor of curio cabinets, which led me into a beautiful country dining room, obviously set up for the next Thanksgiving, and then past several outdoor settings complete with picnic tables and lounge chairs. As I giggled to myself at how silly I must have looked dashing through the store, I ran right into one of the salesmen. Somehow he'd managed to outmaneuver me.
“You seem like you’re in a hurry,” he said, with a slight grin. “Is there anything in particular you’re looking for?
“No, nothing particular,” I said. “Just something general.”
Thanking him again for his offer of help, I turned and walked off, trying to act like what I’d just said made any sense at all. Still, the salesman continued to follow me, perhaps now wondering if I was even worth the effort. And because I’d just been caught, I had the strangest sensation to try the whole thing again. Rather than just leaving the store, I suddenly wanted to beat this overconfident salesperson at his own game. Like a child, I felt the need for redemption, and possibly, revenge. But where could I hide that he wouldn’t be able to find me?
At the next opportunity, I ducked out of his sight into a room with a giant armoire. Moving as quickly as I could, I opened the door of the armoire and slipped inside, which was not an easy task since I had to step up in order to get into it. Then, closing the door behind me, I tried to keep as quiet as I could so I could hear when he passed by. But there was no sound at all. I pressed my ear to the armoire door, but I couldn’t hear anything. After about a minute of this, I began to feel rather foolish. After all, what if someone should come upon this room and want to investigate the armoire? It wouldn’t exactly be a selling point if I should happen to suddenly jump out at them.
So I pushed the door to open it, and was horrified to discover that I’d actually locked myself inside. I began knocking on the inside of the door and saying “Hello, is anyone there? Hello?” No response. Could the store really be so big that nobody could hear me? And what if I got locked in here overnight, possibly suffocating to death in a glorified hutch? That’s when embarrassment turned to panic. No longer did I care about my pride or embarrassment of being discovered; now all I cared about was getting out of the damned armoire.
I began pounding on the door and yelling “Help! I’m stuck! Help please!” Within moments, I heard the russling of feet and the click of the armoire door. As the door opened, I was once again facing the same salesperson.
“I’m so embarrassed,” I said, not really sure how I was going to explain this.
“No need,” the salesman replied, with a slight wink. “It happens all the time.”
“Really?” I replied, imagining why other customers might hide in this giant armoire. They couldn't all have been avoiding the salespeople, could they?
“Well, mostly with children. They’re trying to see if the whole Narnia story is real. You know, the lion, the witch and the wardrobe?”
“Oh, right,” I said, nodding. “Well, thanks for coming to my rescue. But I think I need something much bigger.”
And with that, I made a quick beeline for the front door and practically ran to my car. Not only was I embarrassed, but I will probably never go back to a Raymour and Flanigin store again.
But that’s just me. Have you ever had an embarrassing experience in a furniture store?