Every April when Jim goes to Georgia for the Masters golf tournament, there is always some moment when I have a pity party for myself I too wish I was somewhere warm.

It’s not that I really want to be at a golf tournament, but after eight months of winter, the thought of being outside without wearing fourteen layers of reconstituted plastic winter wear is appealing. So…… a couple days into his trip, I usually splurge on something to make myself feel better. We could call it Visa Card spending parity or we could call it what it is……IMPULSE BUYING. Perhaps Jim calls it his May Visa Card bill surprise.

This year my impulse thoughtful purchase was garden furniture. On April 6th I found a white cedar garden furniture company online, a company we will call SNAFU Inc. SNAFU Inc was having an online sale that seemed too good to be true was too good to be true. Apparently I could buy three garden benches, six garden chairs, and two garden tables for the price of one garden bench from Smith & Hawkin.

And so I ordered three garden benches, six garden chairs and two garden tables with thoughts of how special it would be to have places to sit down in the gardens, as opposed to what is available for sitting right now which is a) several rotten garden benches set out in fields where people can look at them but not be in danger of actually sitting on them and b) two garden benches from Smith & Hawken bought in 1993 that have migrated to Ben’s new porch.

At first, I waited patiently for my garden furniture. There were so many lovely thoughts of nestling a bench here or a chair there in this or that garden that I almost didn’t notice that it had been eight weeks and still no delivery. But then it occurred to me that eight weeks was a long time to wait. After all, the snow was actually gone and we could really use the furniture….. and so I made my second contact with SNAFU Inc. I emailed to ask when I might expect my benches. For a few weeks I stuck to sending pleasant inquiries by email even though no one answered my polite missives.

Ben was having a big housewarming at his house called Sheestock in the end of June- He expected a hundred people, and I imagined the benches coming just in time to seat a few of his crowd. It was my new SNAFU Inc fantasy.

At Sheestock, they sat on the grass or danced on the front porch with the two Smith & Hawken benches pushed out of the way- which is perhaps the way one should expect things to be at a party called Sheestock.

Next I began a polite phone assault. To begin with, I just wanted to know that my order would arrive someday, but when I began to make contact with the folks at SNAFU Inc, I grew more concerned. Every person on the phone had a different story about why my order had not been shipped. Their phone menu was still pushing the sales, but everyone I talked to mentioned new problems as to why my order was not ready. Basically there seemed to be no white cedar in the continental US.

As we entered the month of July, my order was 12 weeks out. The woman I spoke with on the phone several times told me each time I called that my order was shipping that day. During our last conversation she had a choking fit and could not talk. I felt very sorry for her having to handle the customer wrath that I knew must be her daily bread.

My daily bread was the laughter of everyone here. Our office and home was filled with jokes about when the SNAFU order was coming. Each knock on the door, each truck up the hill and someone would call out that it was the SNAFU benches.

Simple pleasures for simple people….. and the family and staff were enjoying my impulse purchase, perhaps more than if the benches had actually materialized.

The third week in July and this is where the story takes a sad sexist turn. Having logged a good dozen calls to SNAFU, I was ready to wash my hands of the whole thing and I asked Jim to try his luck.

And so, Jim called the people at SNAFU Inc to ask where the benches were. He wasn’t cross or demanding. He was as nice as I had been but HE WAS A MAN. And suddenly the people at SNAFU were throwing in a FREE TABLE and promising that the order was being shipped that day-

AND LO AND BEHOLD….it WAS shipped that day and now lucky Will is laughing no more as he has three benches, six garden chairs, and THREE tables to assemble.


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