And then regret.
The four mixed in a unattractive recipe. One that always left me feeling unsettled, unsatisfied.
$300. The dresser, although handsome and spacious, was nothing more than a glorified piece of cardboard. And, better yet, it collected more scratches and dents than an appliance warehouse sale. This is the dresser we bought to stand up to Reid's growing up years. But, somewhere in the middle of the whole assembly process he didn't even get the chance to test its durability -- because we couldn't make each and every component part (and there were hundreds) fit flush and plumb and...
Disaster. Drilled holes in backward position does not a pretty dresser make.
Which is why we made the trip to the store again today. To return it.
Anticipating an unpleasant conversation with sales staff at the return counter, I folded and unfolded my receipt on my way through the gigantic glass doors that led toward Ikea's inner workings. I shifted my stance and rocked in place (phantom baby syndrome, I guess) while waiting in line. I watched other transactions. I saw an opening with a new clerk...
Politely explaining the defective dresser piece, I felt like a human pin cushion. She listened...and let me know that she'd seen the same problem this morning but the company doesn't offer cash refunds on products already in the assembly phase. "Do you want to talk with a manager?"
Nooooo, but yes. "Yes, please."
She arrived; I issued my complaint, again. Nonplussed, she stated that what is returned for cash is the store's jurisdiction and that my research call to corporate for preliminary answers was a waste of time: "They just tell you what you want to hear to get you off the phone. We have to check the piece out here to determine the real problem before we can do anything else. It may be as simple as providing a replacement part or offering store credit." Stunned at her candor toward corporate policy, I watched them wheel the dresser back to their makeshift repair lab. Yellow shirts encircled it. Hushed voiced discussed it. Workers laid on the floor around it. Out popped a drill.
I peeked back from time to time, which seemed to stretch out like a country highway with no real scenery to get excited about except the occasional old farmhouse. They moved, I jumped. They stepped closer to the return register, I jumped. Yet, our destination...our verdict...remained out of sight.
Finally, she returned. Her unnaturally bright pink lipstick spit out the words that had paved our 100-plus mile trip: "We'll just issue you the refund this time."
The first clerk, the empathetic one, stepped in to finish the transaction. We glibly chatted while I signed the receipt.
The sweat, nervousness, confidence, and regret separated and left. I left too, learning a valuable lesson.
You get what you pay for.
(And, luckily this time, I wasn't stuck with what I paid for.)