The Saga of the Sofa

Reader's Digest International - - My Life - BY ANNE ROUMANOFF

IN THE VAST SOFA SHOP, we feel lost, there’s so much choice. The sales­man is charm­ing. “Sofa bed or reg­u­lar sofa? Ev­ery­day use or just oc­ca­sional?” It’s fab­u­lous how in­ter­ested he is in our needs. He doesn’t judge us, he ap­proves our choices.

We stroll through the so­fas, our new best friend track­ing us closely. “Try that one, you’ll like it.” We fo­cus on the com­fort of our but­tocks. “This is the Diva model from the Rapido range. French qual­ity, Ital­ian de­sign and Scan­di­na­vian style. Firm, soft and with loose cov­ers.” It’s more ex­pen­sive than we’d bud­geted for, so we hes­i­tate. “This model is never re­duced,” says the sales­man, in­dig­nantly. He taps on his cal­cu­la­tor, phones a mys­tery con­tact and then of­fers us an ex­cep­tional dis­count of 40 per­cent. We’re thrilled.

The sales­man rapidly pro­duces the or­der form and gets us to sign it. He’s still friendly, but not quite so fondly at­tached as be­fore. The thrill of the chase is over. “There’s a 195-eu­ros delivery charge. Didn’t I men­tion that? You’re on the fifth floor, you say? That makes it 215 eu­ros.”

His mo­bile phone rings and he’s vis­i­bly up­set. His boss has just told him he can’t lower the price so much with­out mak­ing a loss. The dis­count will be 20 per­cent. “Delivery date? In this model there’s only pur­ple left. Gray? There’s a three-month wait.” We’re dis­ap­pointed. The sales­man taps on his screen. “You’re in luck. I’ve got just one left in stock in gray in Italy. You can have it in . . . eight weeks.” We want to thank him but he’s al­ready left us and, all smiles, he’s on the heels of a new cou­ple who’ve just come into the shop. “Sofa bed or reg­u­lar sofa?”

ANNE ROUMANOFF is a well­known French hu­morist.

She lives in Paris.

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