22 September 2008

The Weekend: I more fully accept my Podhood.

It seems to be a running theme this month: that more and more women are waking up and discovering that they are "Stepford Wives", Pod persons, or, more accurately, becoming competent household managers.

Is it a function of age or maturity that we are looking at ourselves and realizing that we have become people that we didn't expect to be?

This weekend the German picked up a (horrendously expensive because it can drill through concrete) drill (which made his weekend because he really does love tools and he misses the ones we left behind) and put the handles on the Arbeitsplatz in the vorkuche. This piece has a history of its own that is uniquely German.

Our kitchen here is sorely lacking but luckily, outside the tiny room, we have another small room that has a small balcony off that. We decided that we would turn the two rooms into one extended kitchen and that would require putting a kitchen island equivalent into the vorkuche. We looked at Ikea and the price knocked us to our knees. Then we looked at Bauhaus and the price was also exorbitant for their "pre-constructed" workplaces. However, when glancing through other catalogs we saw a line that they were just about to start carrying which was substantially cheaper and yet exactly what we were looking for: a workplace with an approximately meter wide top, two drawers and two doors. We weren't liking any of the strange color combinations but decided on the (ugly) light wood sides with grey top because that was the only way to get the grey top to vaguely match the grey kitchen. We were not allowed to get the grey sides with the grey top because that is the way it is and any variation from the way it is is not in Ordnung. The factory will only put the pieces in a box in this specific way and even though the grey sides exist, they can only be sold with a red top. That is the way things are. Accept it.

Three weeks later, before we went to the US, the piece was delivered. We didn't open it because we were in a huge hurry. That was a mistake. When we got back and I eagerly opened the box, I found that, contrary to all that was expected, my brown unit had a brown top. How very strange! How out of order was this?

The German called BauHaus and left a message for the gentleman who had assisted us. He remembered very clearly that we had wanted the grey sides with the grey top and only reluctantly settled for the grey top with brown sides, so he understood my reaction to the suggestion that I be happy with a brown top that fortuitously matched my brown sides. My suggestion was that we return the entire thing for an all-grey piece, but that suggestion was not considered an option. After many calls to and fro (from the gentleman to the factory and then to the German to keep us informed) the answer was that we would indeed be sent a new, correct, grey top.

Here I must say that the BausHaus worker was the first German retail employee we have ever encountered that actually took responsibility for a problem, dealt with the problem, and followed up to a fair and equitable resolution. I was absolutely amazed. And the epic doesn't stop here.

When the new top came in, some 4 weeks later, we were called to be so informed and requested to pick the top up. The problem here is that we don't have a private vehicle, it takes a bus and a walk to get to BauHaus and the top is large, heavy and ungainly. We asked that BauHaus drop it off next time that they were in the area delivering and our contact was able, after very many requests through the hierarchy, to make that happen.

By any standards, he did extremely well. By German standards this saga is one that begs for Kundenservice beatification.

We got the new top last weekend and before replacing the old with the new, the German wanted to get the handles and the wheels we have purchased on the unit. Therefore, the expensive drill (only the proximate cause, we have other drill-requiring needs). The handles went on this weekend, the screws for the wheels are too small and will go on next weekend. but a shelf also went up in that room (two more will follow- these are re-purposed shelves we found when we moved in).

So I spent some time actually unpacking and re-arranging my spices: I can now find them all. This is even better than the last kitchen I had in the States (a larger but still crappy kitchen). I love me a spice drawer. My plates are now in their Ikea holders sitting on the shelf, with my coffee mugs beside them. The next shelf will have stem holders and I will have completed the reclamation, for food storage purpose, of two upper cabinets. The tidification and rationalization of my work and living space continues apace. I am finding this very soothing.

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