By George Capsis
As I reached the kitchen counter to make morning coffee for our French guests, Isabelle and Kumiko, I glanced through the garden door and viewed with alarm that the glass table outside had shattered into the proverbial thousand pieces—
glass glittered on the gray slate ground.
This is the second time—the sister table in Bridgehampton did the same thing. Bang, just like that with no discernable trauma—a thousand pieces.
Google tells me that minute amounts of nickel sulfite located at a fracture plane will expand and shatter tempered glass. I have twice been the victim of this phenomenon but this second time I had Isabelle and Kumiko about to descend for breakfast and no table to eat it on. Instead we ate on a small, very old, weather-roughened marble table.
Later I called Home Depot, where I believed I bought the tables originally, and after a very long wait a female voice with a German accent told me “no” they did not have a forty-eight inch round glass tabletop in stock but “here is the telephone number of Pier 1.” (Pier 1? Why was she sending me to Pier 1? )
I called Pier 1’s main number and got an aggressive young lady who I believe said her name was Tiesha or something close to that. After a search, she said they were out of stock. Disappointed, I asked if I could order one. Her response was “No, you can’t order it, you have to keep calling to see when we get them in.”
Hmm, I thought after I hung up, maybe I have missed another turn in selling protocol—now you can’t order an out of stock item and instead must keep calling to see if and when it arrives. Hmm
I started to ask around with depressing results—a Chinatown shop would make it up in four days for a staggering amount and ship it for an even larger amount.
But then a faint inner voice made me call the Pier 1 outlet on 15th Street and 5th, and after a short, polite search I got back “we have three of them.” It was the lowest price by far and the lowest price to ship.
I biked over to confirm and within three hours the table arrived and was inserted—just beautiful—Isabelle and Kumiko were surprised and delighted, and we dined in new glittering elegance.
When I decided to write this Briefly Noted piece I called Pier 1 HQ again to find out why they would not take my order. But I did not get Tiesha this time, and the sales girl I spoke to had no idea why Tiesha refused to place an order. When I asked for Mr. Pier 1, she gave me the next level up who listened politely, but still had no idea of what her response should be since I had my table top. She began repeating my words just to have something to say until I explained that was not necessary as I could still remember what I had just said.
To, I am sure, her relief, she stumbled on “it must have been a new girl” and that was it.
Well, it is still better to talk to a human than a computer—but sometimes, not by much.