Sunday, January 9, 2011


‘Good afternoon Annette!’ I entered her shop with my black airline pilot’s case and a little sample rug under my arm. ‘Welcome, Peter, how are you today? Her dignified voice conveyed genuine pleasure.
She had her interior design shop recently re-decorated and the merchandise rearranged; I took quick notice of her brocade curtain materials and velvet cushions with gold embroidery. Interspersed with this were lace fringes and golden tassels everywhere. There was also a large elegant bed displayed in the centre of the room and rugs of oriental designs along the side walls. In the back of the shop was her desk across the right-hand corner and the entire back wall was one big mirror, giving the appearance of more space and display than there actually was. I noticed in the mirrored wall an open door to the backroom, where retailers keep their stock, receive their deliveries and, of course, keep their café bar. Annette had an imported espresso machine and her coffee was really strong - it always made me leave her establishment with added spring in my steps.

We sat at her desk with a cup in hand and discussed business. She gracefully took one of my flooring samples I had brought with me and we talked about its technical details and my company’s general supply situation.
One soft vinyl sample with a grey slate pattern caught her eye and she was very keen to find out more about it, especially the delivery situation as she seemed to have already a customer in mind. Fingering my pockets I noticed that I had left my mobile phone in the car.

‘May I phone my company for exact dates?’ I asked politely.  She nodded with her usual grace.

Keenly looking around, I could not find her telephone on her desk, which was cluttered with upholstery fabric and curtain material and my own samples on top of all this. There was only merchandise in the shop, as far as I could see. In order not to show any slackening-off and eager to please, I looked behind me, along the huge mirror-wall and sure enough, in the doorway to the back room, I could see a small, classic, table with an antique looking telephone that had shiny brass parts shiny and seems to sparkle at me as if in invitation.

‘Ah, here it is!’ I exclaimed resolutely, jumping up and striding towards it. I’ll soon have the information we need and then there will be another satisfied customer!

CRASH!  There was suddenly the loudest bang I’ve ever experienced, my face felt so flat and there were sparks before my eyes, shooting in all directions and not for decorative purpose!
I was thrown back by something invisible, and onto the soft-carpeted floor.
‘Wha...what happened?’ I exclaimed in a daze, shaking my head and fingering my nose. It took me a while to get up and even then I staggered and swayed about as if drunk.

Slowly, the pain subsided and I tried again to walk through the door to the stylish table with the telephone. A small reflection of light gleamed in the air and only then could I discern what had happened. The door to the back room was also a full length mirror and, as it was left ajar, at about a 45 degree angle. It showed the reflection of the table which was actually on the right-hand side, out of direct view!
At a casual glance it had appeared to me on the left hand side and I had walked straight into this reflection. This mirrored door was too strong to crack, but boy was it hard!

Annette couldn’t help laughing, aloud and heartily, being a lady or not! Enjoying this bit of amusement with wild abandon, she leaned back in her cosy, sumptuous, chair, throwing back her head in helplessness. I could understand her point of view as I, too, had in the past worked in retail shops and had always appreciated funny things happening. Retailing can be a bore, with long hours and customers constantly asking the same questions all day long and reps, calling and talking about their boring products.....  

Straightening up and stepping into the right direction, I dialled my company and, with extra stiffness, I obtained the required information for Annette. After that, I bid her adieu and retreated to my car. Still aching, I drove off to my next port of call.

Peter Frederick 

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