Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Carpet Gnome

Regular readers of this blog know that J and I have both a greyhound and a recently refinished hardwood staircase. This combination is not a good one. Obie does not like the stairs. He will go up them readily enough, particularly if one of us is going with him (although it is imperative for his stair climbing process that he go up the left hand side. When coming down, he must also hug the left wall. I really don't know why). Coming down the stairs results in Obie doing a little whiny dance at the top of the stairs as he screws up his courage for the ordeal. It's awfully sweet and pathetic to see him place his front feet on the first step down, bring them back up to the top, put his front feet down again, then do the hokey pokey and turn himself around.

J and I, we would like to get a carpet runner to go down the stairs. Now, carpeting on stairs does not solve the problem entirely, but Obie is a much more confident stair attempter when he is climbing down (or up) carpeted stairs. With this mission in mind, we marched boldly on to the local carpet store.

The salesman who waited on us was nice, attempting to be helpful, attentive, and a little odd. We have nicknamed him the Carpet Gnome. We told him the situation. He showed us the runners that are available. (They were designed by Kathy Ireland. I'm not making this up. Because the logical next career step after posing for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition is to begin designing carpet runners.) They were $21/linear foot. It was a little steep. The Gnome, he was attentive. He could tell we were a little concerned about the price. He said that we can have some remnants surged (serged?) to be made into runners and it would be a great deal cheaper. "I have some really nice carpet over here," he said, striding briskly to the back of the store. "You like red carpet, right?" he asked over his shoulder.

"Don't you feel a little like we're in a lesbian bar?" J whispered to me. I elbowed him.

The carpet remnants were not right for us. They're too--carpety. J and I, we are distrustful of carpet, particularly since the carpet we pulled up in the house tried to kill J. Rugs are okay. Carpet, no. The Gnome steered us toward corporate carpet, as it has more pattern and is more rug-like. While J looked ever more desperately through the ugly samples, I--ever the environmentalist--recycled the joke used on this very blog about Obie looking like Linda Blair in The Excorcist going down the stairs backwards. The Gnome, he simply looked at me uncomprehendingly. However, when he thought of something else we might like, he intoned "I'll be back," in a terrible Schwarzenegger impression. "Everyone knows that movie," he said.

In the end, we went home with two samples: a Kathy Ireland special, and a corporate carpet. The Gnome waved to us from the door. As we got in the car, J asked if I'd noticed what was on the Gnome's desk. It was a photocopied degree. A PhD in materials engineering. We couldn't decide if it was a joke, or if the Gnome has a very interesting story about his career path. Perhaps he and Kathy have a lot in common.

When I returned the samples a few days later, I had to let the Gnome down gently. We'd found serviceable runners for much cheaper elsewhere. I didn't want to tell him flat out that he wouldn't be making a sale with us, so I equivocated. I felt like the cheerleader telling the geeky kid that she'd be washing her hair that night.

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