Over the Top§
writer: russell j.t. dyer; posted: December 16, 2012; revised: August 15, 2017; readers in past month: 925
A few months ago I moved into a new apartment. My old sofa was looking pretty shabby before the move. It was damaged more during the move. Then I couldn’t get it into the apartment: the elevator is too small and the doorway to the stairway is too cramped, and the sofa was a little longer than most. There were three walls to twist around, but the main problem was that the ceiling of the second half of the first set of stairs was too low. We couldn’t curl the sofa upwards. It’s a poor architectural design. I asked a neighbor on the first floor if I could bring it over their balcony — they have a large balcony — and then carry it through their apartment and into the stairway — the doorway on the first floor has enough overhead clearance to be able to get it in from there. But they wouldn’t go for that idea. They were worried that I would break the glass on their balcony door as we passed by carrying the sofa. What wusses. After exploring a few options and a couple of months of the old sofa sitting in my garage, I decided to trash it and to buy a new, smaller sofa and have it delivered.
It took a couple of months of looking for sofas on-line and at local stores to find one that I liked and thought I could afford. I found a few that I liked much better than the one I bought, but they cost way too much. There were many at stores here that I could afford, but I didn’t like their style. I am probably tied to American styles and here I only see either cheap sofas or ones that in which the designers try to hard to be modern and stylish. I recognize that I want a more American classic design with straight lines, but it’s what I want. So I bought one that seemed like a good compromise and which I could put on my new credit card to pay later.
The sofa I bought was custom made in that I chose the model and the fabric, with the help of a friend, Kristina Tool. It took two months to construct — a long time to wait. Although it was a smaller sofa, when they arrived to deliver it, it was still too big to fit through the entrance to the stairwell. So they took it back to their warehouse to try another day and another way. The salesman who sold me the sofa got involved and found a moving company with a special crane for furniture that would lift it up over my front balcony on the fifth floor. That cost me two-hundred eighty euros more. It seemed excessive to me, but I decided it was the only way to have a sofa in my apartment. The other tenants, when they moved in use a moving company that uses one of these cranes to move all of their furniture and other things over the balcony. It seems to be the style of middle-class and wealthy Italians.
The moving company had a truck with a simple crane of sorts on the back of it. It includes a platform that remains level as it ascends. The Coptic Egyptian man they sent out with the truck and I lifted the sofa onto the platform. He then raised the sofa to my fifth floor (sixth floor by U.S. standards) balcony. When he got it to balcony, we then went into my apartment to remove it off of the platform. At first, though, it wouldn’t clear the overhead beam because we had the sofa on its back side. So we had to flip the sofa to reposition it to fit. It was pretty scary. I was afraid we might drop it and kill someone below. It was a holiday, so there wasn’t any one walking by — and we didn’t drop it. But we managed to turn it over and then get it onto the balcony without killing anyone — always a good minimum goal with any delivery of furniture.
After the delivery man left, I unwrapped the sofa and put it in place and organized its cushions. I was surprised to see that it did not look like the sofa I ordered. I was so upset. I waited two months for them to build the wrong sofa and another couple of weeks to see that it was wrong. It was a miserable morning. I took a photo of it to show my friend, Kim. She confirmed it didn’t look like what I ordered. I had a photo of it from their on-line catalog. The back cushions were two large cushions. The sofa they delivered had higher cushions with a second lower lumbar cushion attached. The shape and look was very different. Another friend, Kim Stiehl said we should go to the store and fight with them to pay the cost of taking back the sofa and replacing it with the correct one. I did not like that idea: besides another two months without a sofa, I’d have to fight with them to cover the cost of moving the sofa over the balcony again — two more times. Kim said we first needed to find the name of the model they sent me and then go to the store with the receipt from when I ordered it, showing the sent sent me the wrong sofa. I was sick thinking about doing all of this. But, in rumaging through the catalog on-line she found a photo showing two photos of the sofa: one as I expected it to look, and the other with one of the cushions extended with a lower lumbar cushion. It turns out it’s convertible for two types of seating: one for a more sociable seating and traditional look, and the other in a stadium seating style, in which you can sit back and rest your head while watching a movie. So Kim saved the day. I was so relieved.