Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

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Sojourn to a strange jungle

Since our office move a few weeks back, we've had a lot more space to work in. We moved from the charming drop-lamps-and-high-ceilings-but-we-long-ago-outgrew-the-space "hep" offices (next to the coffeeshop with the free folk singers, down the street from the rustic town square) to larger, more "office parkish" we-are-functional-now space.

Our offices were previously occupied by a real estate company, which used series of HUGE french doors between office spaces to allow on-the-spot reconfiguration of the space for "big conference room" or "small little office" arrays, in a bewildering array of permutations. We converted that space into rather traditional offices. For my office, though, I had the finish out done to leave a huge french door in the middle of the space. I have a huge "partner's desk" which is many decades old, and was my late grandfather's desk during his years as an agent for a railroad crosstie company. This desk, with my chair and the "computer credenza" takes up essentially half the office. The "other" half of the office can thus be walled off with the french doors. This allows me to set up meetings in the "right" half of the office while hiding away the very "people working with too many papers" look of my desk.

The problem is that the two charming client chairs,
snazzy metallic numbers with nice leather seats and backs, look abandoned in the new office. When the french doors are shut, it's like some spouse has moved out of the right half of the office, and taken all the appliances and the good furniture with him/her, service of divorce papers imminent. Even with my framed postage stamps and the various wall things I am in the process of assembling, the place has that "save me, I'm all alone" look in the "client" half that is not the comforting tone I am seeking.

So I headed to an establishment we'll call the Large Old Fashioned Furniture Store (LOFFS) to meet with the person who helped me get my original chairs, whom we'll call (by her name) Mimi. Mimi is a really friendly person with a "good eye". I have a reasonably "good eye" when it comes to matters of furniture, but one wants a sounding board with a "really good eye", and Mimi fits the bill.

Now shopping for furniture is always a challenge.
One can go to a place like Office QuarterPounder,
and get really cool stuff that assembles with a swiss army knife. One can go to a High Toned Furniture Mansion, and pay roughly the price of a lambourghini, but get none of the acceleration. I chose instead to go to LOFFS, where the pricing is not bottom dollar nor top dollar.

Now my initial idea was simple. I have two chairs.
I could buy four more chairs and a table. I would be "set". But life is not that simple. Although my current office chairs were not inexpensive, though on sale, the cost of such chairs has now accelerated by a multiple to the per capita income of several third world citizens per chair. There's something silly about that notion. It's a chair, not a precious metal. But in two years, two years in which the markets have all gone to heck,
this chair format was now twice as expensive. Furniture stores are a strange jungle, where the rules of economics and math don't apply.

Mimi had some really cool stuff picked out for me.
This stuff was again in a moderne scheme. It was dear, but not so expensive as to take away the breath But I still wanted to explore a bit more.
I wanted something friendly, something that would make clients feel comfortable. To me, the problem with lawyers is that they are human in all the ways one does not want them to be human, and inhuman in all the situations when a little common humanity is in order.
I wanted to break the mold.

I made my way over to a circular table with good old fashioned solid oak chairs; you know, those chairs with the spokes on the back in an oval-ish kinda shape, that just scream "solid, friendly, and boring in the right way, but a really quirky, fun time". Nothing Jetsons-ish or outre here. Think Waltons, if the Waltons had had an attorney.

Mimi caught the idea at once. But then came the moment in which Mimi earned her commission. "I know this is much less expensive", I said,
"but is it okay? Will the furniture last? Will it be all right?".

Suddenly, in a moment, Mimi "got it". She did not have before her the "sell me your best" type of power lawyer. She was dealing with a customer who wanted simple, old-fashioned, at a reasonable price, but did not want to embarrass himself.

"This is one of our *oldest* and most popular lines,"
she quietly and sincerely said, "it will be okay".

I live for moments when people will stop *trying* to sell me things and just tell me what I need to know.
Sometimes it's not the words I need, nor even the reassurance. It's just the little flash--that "i understand you now".

I asked if we could go put the ordinary brown oak table with the friendly little chairs on my credit card. Tuesday of next week, delivery people will make me a Walton. Mimi, by contrast, no doubt would be on Animal Planet, having tranquilized another elusive exotic in the strange jungle.

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