Today was possibly the most difficult day of my professional career. The bossman has been out of town and delegated an assignment to me, and I knew I was clearly in over my head. The email said I was the man and told me to contact Michelle as soon as possible. Not only was this task unimaginably daunting but the deadline was imminent, with the results of my work being highly visible for at least the next five years. I broke into a sweat as my stomach churned and I came down with a case of acute irritable bowel syndrome. I guess it was time to earn my salary, and I reached for the phone.
“Michelle, this is Sid with that very important firm that signed a lease with you recently. We’re currently sharing some temporary space with a maintenance guy that keeps trying to sell us Amway and a cleaning woman that keeps yelling at us in Polish, but I hear our new space is going to be ready soon.”
“Yes, I’ll just need you to come by and pick out the finishes.”
“That’s what I heard. Can’t you just do it for us? Please?”
“But if I do it, I know it’s going to end up being orange shag carpet and faux wood paneling. Last time I went to Einstein’s I panicked and ended up with a blueberry bagel with smoked salmon cream cheese. Please don’t make me do this.”
“I’ll see you in five minutes.”
Other than the multi-level marketing maintenance man and the petulant Polish housekeeper, the only other person in the office was a female staffer. Perfect.
“Yo, want to help me pick out paint and carpet for the new office?” I asked excitedly.
“Hell, no,” she replied defiantly.
I stood there and gave her a look that said, “Hey, I’m pathetic. If I didn’t have a wife to dress me I’d be at work every day in a potato sack and moccasins.” It wasn’t working. So I changed to the “Hey, I can make your life a living hell – I sure hope you like making copies of my Marmaduke comic archive” look. She knew I was bluffing.
“You just want me to go so you have somebody to blame if it looks like crap.”
“I promise that’s not it. I just want someone to make sure I don’t end up with a blueberry bagel and smoked salmon cream cheese.”
She seemed to understand and tried to reason with me. “The last time I chose a paint color was for my bedroom at my mom’s house. It was so bad I had to move out.”
“Put on your coat.”
With my overgrown goatee and jeans I was tackled by security upon trying to enter the building. After I identified myself, he brushed me off and said, “Go right ahead, we’ve been expecting you.”
We went up to the leasing office and my theory that leasing and property management attracts by far the hottest women was further confirmed. I think they fall back on modeling if the leasing career doesn’t work out. But I digress.
There was a conference room with a table filled with all that crap you normally see couples pouring over in Home Depot on a Saturday afternoon – books of carpet squares, boxes with miniature tiles, rings with baseboard samples, and a slab of paint strips with ten times the colors in that box of 64 Crayolas with the built-in sharpener. If it weren't for our lovely host I might have thought I had walked into hell.
I started with the carpet and spread the four books she picked out for us across the table. They all looked like Bill Cosby sweaters to me. We were both paralyzed and about as useful as a couple of piñatas at a polka festival. I don’t know what that means, but I eventually narrowed it down to two books and then regressed back to the potato sack and moccasins look. Michelle took my hint and narrowed it down to three “groups” for us. I narrowed it to two. And my trusty sidekick finally pointed to one, probably just to get it over with, and we would soon be the proud owners of 2,500 sf of Indian Corn carpet from Bigelow.
Once that was done, our confidence increased exponentially and it was only a matter of minutes before we ended up with a couple hundred square feet of some Fortress White vinyl flooring from Armstrong and some Bisqueware base to tie it all together. Hoping to take advantage of our momentum, Michelle whipped out a few strips of color samples and I commandeered several gallons of aptly named Natural Choice from Sherwin Williams.
I think it will be fine. If not, I can over it up with some faux wood paneling leftover from my living room. Or blame it on the staff.