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Three seven hundred 0

Dear Bradshaw,

Hoping to improve the ambiance of our living room, Francesca wants to replace the couch with a scattering of pillows of diverse colors, shapes and sizes, a beanbag, and also to decorate the wood floor with a large, round rug.

Part of the plan involved getting rid of our entertainment center, which — impossible to dismantle and way too big to squeeze out the front door not to mention haul down eight flights of stairs — meant I had to buy a saw (expanding my tool collection to saw, hammer and screwdriver) and saw the entertainment center to pieces.

After much sweat, some tears, and one life threatening moment out there on the balcony where the whole heehaw started to crumple and nearly knocked me over the edge, I lugged all the parts and pieces outside to the dumpster. Returned to the apartment, I immediately noticed the improvement, which further fueled the mission to craft the idyllic vibe.

The next step was to find an affordable rug. I’d had my eyes open for weeks, and while heading home from a lesson the other day, I stopped at a rug store to ask about prices, and also because I liked the design of one of the rugs in the window. When I asked the proprietor if they had round rugs, he smiled bigly, revealing two rows of straight, white teeth, and then, as if reading the layout and dynamics of our living room from my mind, he showed me a rug that was exactly what we were looking for.

“How much?” I asked.

“Four forty,” he said, “not including the fifteen percent discount.”

I quickly did the math in my head, and though even with the discount it was expensive, it was a beautiful rug, and I could already see it spotting the floor of our apartment. I left, promising to return within the week, and sent Francesca a text message: “Found a rug, round, perfect, about 370 euros.” She called me immediately, insisting we meet at home, go to the shop, and buy the rug at once.

When we arrived an hour later, the proprietor greeted us, flashing his fantastic teeth, and after showing us various rugs with subtle differences in color and design, Francesca and I agreed on the original one.

“Three seventy?” Francesca asked, confirming the discount.

Cupping both hands and holding them against his chest, the man said, “Exactly.”

Francesca fished through her purse, found her checkbook, a pen, and then started writing the date.

As he released his hands and pointed a finger in the air, the man added, “Of course, that’s uh… three seven hundred.”

Three seven hundred?

As I was struggling to understand, Francesca’s face flushed, and seeing the confusion clouding mine, she explained, “Three thousand seven hundred.”

She had to tell me twice before it sunk in, and when it did, an echoing thud sounded as a door slammed shut in my mind. Of course, we made our way out of there as politely as possible, and if we had had tails, they’d have been tucked between our legs.

As you well know, Shaw, I’m a college graduate, and I work hard six days a week, sometimes ten hours a day, but still it looks like I’m going to be doing my shopping at IKEA for the rest of my life. I’d like to believe in miracles. I’d like to think: ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’. But it looks like the financial reality of my chosen profession forces me to accept the fact: ‘Even if there’s a will, no way!’

Oh well, whatever, right? I’m happily married, healthy, have a job I like, even if it pays poorly. So what if I can’t afford a piece of fabric to throw on my floor. Money can’t buy health and happiness, can it? Meanwhile, there are people all over the world who make less money than me, and they survive, they’re happy, even if they’re obliged to shop at IKEA.

Anyway, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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