A week or so before Easter, I stopped into the Housing Works on 23rd Street to make a donation. While filling out all the forms involved, I fell in love with a slightly silly-looking papier-mâché chicken that must have been a window display in its former life. “How much is that?” I asked the cashier. “Oh,” he said, “you can’t buy that chicken. It just came in and hasn’t been priced yet.”
A few days before Easter, I stopped back into the store to look around since they had lovely furniture and I had just moved. The chicken was still there with no price tag, which meant it still wasn’t for sale.
But what was for sale was a wooden armchair in excellent condition with a chic white linen upholstered seat. It was marked as $125 and lots of people were buzzing around it.
I immediately called my boyfriend to tell him about it. No answer. I sent him some photos of it from my cellphone – no reply. I waited as long as I could before I thought someone else would snap the chair up and thought, why wouldn’t my boyfriend like the chair? So I bought it.
When I got home, my boyfriend (who had been in meetings all day), looked at the pictures I had sent him and told me he really didn’t like the chair at all. I explained that it was a final sale. The only other option was to not take it and donate it back to Housing Works.
Which I said I would gladly do since I didn’t want to live with something he didn’t like. We both felt terrible.
“Let’s get the chair,” he said. “I’m sure it will be O.K.”
So off we went the next morning to pick it up. He parked the car by the curb in front of Housing Works. I walked in and said I was there to pick something up I had bought the day before.
“Oh,” said the woman, who turned out to be the manager, “I hope it isn’t one particular item that we are having an issue with.”
“It’s the small armchair with the white upholstery,” I said. “That’s the one!” she exclaimed and went on to say that what had happened with that particular chair had never happened at Housing Works before. Her face was ashen. It turns out that that chair had already been sold two days before and that somehow the “SOLD” tag had come off. So they had unwittingly “resold” it to me. The original buyer had picked it up earlier that morning.
My initial shock turned to joy. They sold the chair I wasn’t meant to buy. The one my boyfriend hated. What are the odds?
“No problem,” I said to the manager. “I really loved that chair, but some things just aren’t meant to be.”
“Really,” she said, “You have such a good attitude!”
“Well,” I added, “it was an honest mistake.”
Looking relieved and now smiling broadly, she said: “Oh, thank you so much for understanding. Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?”
And I looked up and saw the papier-mâché chicken. “You could sell me that chicken,” I replied.
“It’s not priced yet,” she said, “but you can have it for 50 cents.”
“It’s a deal,” I said and walked out of Housing Works with the chicken in a brown shopping bag.
“Where’s the chair?” my bewildered boyfriend asked as I got into the car.
“Don’t ask,” I said. “Just step on it.” The chicken (tail feathers re-fluffed) was the centerpiece of our Easter/Passover dinner.
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