There was nothing particularly special about the chairs except they looked sturdy and were the right height to slide underneath the kitchen table. I wasn’t looking for much. I just needed them to work. They also had to fit in the back of my very small, economy car.
I pulled them out. There was a little wear and tear, but nothing damning, nothing that couldn’t be improved upon. They seemed fine, except for the price.
Twenty bucks each was a bit much. The chairs were probably worth it, but just a week before I’d seen kitchen chairs just like these (well, maybe not as good) for only ten a piece.
I almost walked away.
But I needed chairs. There was only one at the house.
Of all the things I wanted right now, I wanted a place to sit in my kitchen, just someplace where I could look across the table at someone. I wanted to eat dinner with my kids, not serve them individually from the stove while taking bites from a cooling plate by the sink. When it was just me, I wanted to sit at my table, look across at the empty seats and remind myself that other people lived here, too. It wasn’t just me.
Twenty bucks each was a bit much. So, I grabbed two of the four and marched them up to the counter.
The clerk started to ring me up and I noticed a small tear on the back of the chair. It was nothing much, but if I was going to have to pay twenty dollars for the chair, I wanted to make sure I got my money’s worth.
“Hey,” I said. “Would you mind if I swapped this out for one of the others? I think I meant to grab one of the others.”
She shrugged: fine with her.
A couple of minutes later, I was back with a nearly identical chair.
“It’s a shame to break up the set,” she said. “You know there are four chairs back there, right?”
I nodded. Of course, I knew there were four.
“Yeah, but I can’t afford all four of them, just the two right now.”
She looked at me then the register.
“You know, I think today those four chairs are forty dollars,” she said.
She nodded and told me to get them.
I thanked her and in kind of a gush, I explained why I needed the chairs in the first place.
“My wife and I split,” I told her. “She kept the stools and I got the table.”
She laughed and shook her head. I tried to explain that it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. I didn’t really want the stools. They never fit the table in the first place and really, I felt lucky to have the table. She’d been kind to let me have it.
I told her, “I’m just trying to put my kitchen together, you know?”
She nodded then said, “It’s going to be okay. You’ll fill your house up with new love. You’ll be fine.”
That sounded great, though I was also kind of looking for a foosball table.