I’ve always hated summer and its hot, sticky, mosquito-y days when every breath I draw is unbearable heat. On days like that, I know that as soon as I step onto the pavement, I might as well be stepping into an oven.
One searing summer day when I worked retail, a customer asked me if I could bring her purchase to her car. It was a high backed Victorian armchair that wasn’t as heavy as it looked, and I wondered if it was worth the price. I always thought, in the case of furniture, that the price of a piece of furniture should correspond to its weight. For $300, I assumed I’d at least feel some strain, maybe go to lift it and be slightly embarrassed that it was heavier than it looked. But no, it was cake.
I followed her through the parking lot, and I slogged through heat and humidity across the blacktop to a tiny blue Volkswagen beetle that had no business transporting a high backed Victorian armchair.
Jesus, lady, I thought, it’s an armchair, not a troupe of clowns.
It wasn’t going to fit, but I clung to hope and thought, maybe it’s bigger on the inside. Maybe it’s like the Tardis.
I held the chair away from me to keep my sweat off of the upholstery. I didn’t want to put it down, because that might’ve triggered the “there’s no rush” mode, and I really wanted her to finish clearing the backseat of kipple so that I could return to air conditioned comfort. By the time she finished clearing it, I was ready to tie the chair to the back of the car and tell her to just drag the thing home. The backseat was clear, but there was still no room.
For five minutes, her car hosted the town’s first game of armchair Twister. I turned, flipped, and rolled the chair to different positions, but it was no use.
No use, lady.
As I told her we’d hold it until she came back with a
Tardis truck, a man offered help. He didn’t offer with a smile, he offered with a this-guy-has-no-idea-what-he’s-doing kind of look.
I watched him help with my arms crossed.
Ain’t gonna work, dude. Already tried that–
He jiggled the chair into place.
We thanked him, she got in the car, and he walked to his truck.
I felt like I’d missed something. If I’d tried a little harder, I could’ve made it work; instead, I threw my hands up and forfeited. It was a small event, a small kindness, but I’ve been trying to try harder ever since.
But I still don’t understand how he got it to fit.