...AND OTHER IMPORTS FROM SCANDINAVIA
When I go shopping with Robin, my job is to follow her around various stores with my arms extended. She makes her purchases and throws packages on a pile that increasingly obscures my vision.
I don't get a respite from this grueling activity until we reach the Scandinavian furniture store. Its spacious display floor and wide selection allow me to find a convenient place to set the shopping bags and rest my aching limbs.
At the Scandinavian furniture store, the salespeople are not pushy. They will wait to bother me until I am comfortably ensconced in a luxurious chair, skimming one of those out of print books they keep to show off their teak bookshelves.
The salesman will walk slowly across the room as if he is not certain whether I am a customer or street person who just happens to keep all his belongings in bags from the Bon Marche' and Nordstromís. My flannel shirt and drywall mud-spattered work pants make it a difficult question.
"May I help you, Sir?" he will ask.
I have my standard response to the salesman's offer of assistance. I will lean forward in the easy chair as if I really am interested in his help. I will glance around the store to make it appear as though I am thinking of an intelligent question. Having got his attention with all this body language, I will stare him square in the eyes and ask, "Do you have Finnish carpentry?" The result is always the same: I snicker; the salesman looks puzzled; and my wife says, "Bill, I can't take you anywhere."
Regrettably, this high-class joke only works once per salesman. The ones who recognize me tend to leave me alone. I wonder what would happen if I went in there and genuinely wanted assistance?