This was originally on Ann's Page

I'd been lusting after the computer desk for months. If it ever went on offer, I promised myself I'd buy it. One day, the Makro Mail arrived and there it was, large as life and more desirable than ever. I showed it to Paul. His eyes fastened on a desk on the opposite page. A corner unit to die for.

"Come down to Makro with me," I offered. "If it looks as good in the shop as it does in the picture we'll get them both."

Off we went down to Makro. The assembled corner unit on display looked even better than the illustration and Paul was all set to buy it when I reluctantly said that I couldn't see the flat pack fitting in the back of my Micra. Sure enough, when we measured it, it was about 8" too long. Spoilsport that I was I rejected the idea of pushing my seat so far forward that I'd be driving home with my knees hitting my chin. I also insisted I needed the handbrake. So we came home with my desk, but not Paul's.

The next day Paul decided to buy his corner unit and pay for delivery, but they'd sold out of flatpacks by then and only had the display unit left. So he bought that one. I was looking forward to watching him dismantle it in the street so he could get it through his front door. That was until he phoned the delivery contractor who said there was no way it was going to fit into his small van. Back to the drawing board.

Then I had my brainwave.It was so simple. Take two cars down to Makro at Washington, semi dismantle Paul's desk, load it into two boots and home again. An hour and a half on a Saturday afternoon. We might even make a bob or two if we remembered to take a collecting tin so that the spectators, that I felt sure would gather, could show their appreciation. So much for theory.

Back we all went, Paul, his brother and me. First of all no one had an allen key. Screwdrivers in abundance, but we hadn't thought to bring an allen key. A helpful assistant at the store produced one and simultaneously threw in that, once assembled, the units couldn't be taken apart again. Or at least they could, but if you succeeded, then you'd never get them back together properly. He said he knew, because he was the person who'd spent 4 hours putting it together in the first place. We weren't sure if we believed him, but decided, none of us being DIYers, that disregarding his advice would be rather expensive if he proved to be right.

Just as we were giving the whole thing up for lost, it occurred to me that if we took the individual pieces out of the flat pack, they probably would all fit into one Micra boot as there weren't actually any components that were as long as the overall package. Of course, this realisation would have been far more useful when we were at Makro the first time and they still had flatpacks in stock. Helpful assistant rang the Teesside Makro and established that they still had 3 flatpacks left at that branch, so we reserved one. Helpful assistant then drew a comprehensive map showing us how to get to Teesside Makro, a mere 50 miles from sunny Whitley Bay. Paul's brother, who wasn't in a particularly good mood anyway, drove home muttering.

Paul and I drove down to Teesside. Halfway there, Paul suddenly remembered that his brother had come out without his wallet and had no cash or cards on him at all. We both wondered whether he'd remember before he got back to the Tyne Tunnel, especially since when you're heading north, you pay after you've gone through.

Arriving at the Teesside Makro, we explained to bemused assistants there that we would have to take the flat pack apart in the carpark to load it into the car. One assistant, obviously worried about our sanity, followed us to the carpark to oversee the procedure. Halfway through loading, we found a piece with a large flaw in it.

Paul and the assistant headed back to the store clutching the faulty item. I locked up the car and followed them. We found the assistant who works in the office equipment section and he said, "No problem, I'll open another one up, check it over before you take it to the car and we'll swap them. Just bring the first one back in." Paul and I headed back to the car. Paul said, "What did you do with the first one?" I said, I left it by the car." He said, "Will it be all right there?" I said "Yes, some of it's locked in the boot, another bit is inside the store, surely no one in their right mind would take half a unit." Paul said, "But this is Teesside." We speeded up.

Back at the car, the trolley had vanished, so had the flatpack that was on it. On recovering from the strong bout of hysteria that mysteriously afflicted us both, we found the car park assistant who said, no, it hadn't been stolen, he'd taken it back to the store.

Back at the store, we located the half empty flatpack and added the pieces we'd had in the boot. I went off for a quick cup of coffee. 10 minutes later, we'd taken delivery of another trolley, with another flatpack and tried to go through the checkout.

This time we got held up by an instore argument over whether we needed a blue receipt instead of the red one we had. A spirited discussion took place between 3 of the assistants. This covered refunds (which we hadn't had), and returned goods in general, with particular reference to procedures and receipt colours. I said that they'd got to know us quite well by then and one of them agreed and suggested that we simply move into the store permanently. They decided to hell with the blue receipt, we could keep the red one.

We finally got the car loaded and headed back home. We'd left Whitley Bay at 1 pm and arrived back at 7 pm.

Life is never dull here!

Copyright Ann Dickinson 2000



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Copyright Ann Dickinson 2000