The Generosity of Others… Home Sense and the Good Samaritan Couple

As I mentioned in my previous post, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to create a workspace that will not look like an obvious work space. It would be great if I had a separate room to play with and set it up as an office/studio but I don’t have that luxury and must make do with my current setting. My budget would be modest ($300) and my challenge was to have a desk that does not look like an obvious desk and it would have to have a storage option.

My first find was an amazing cabinet at InDesign on King West that had everything I was looking for; dark wood, an internal filing system, space for a few books, a drawer with a flip down front where I could keep my laptop and it would be hidden away but readily available whenever an inspirational moment hit me. Perfect, perfect, perfect. Gorgeous piece of furniture… price tag $1,300 (ON SALE)! Unfortunately, it was a no sale for me ~ way above what I had decided would be my budget, special order, 5-10 weeks for delivery. I reluctantly walked away.

Determined to find the right piece of furniture, I began hunting through the neighbouring stores and on the web: EQ3, UpCountry, Urban Barn, Sears, Leon’s, The Brick, Staples. I saw a few pieces that interested me but nothing really inspired me and I clearly have expensive taste because what really caught my eye was again not in my budget, or too big, or too obviously desk looking.

My next target would be Home Sense. They always have great items BUT it’s a bit of a danger zone for me because, well, they have a great kitchen section with amazing high end items at very reasonable prices. I picked up a couple Le Cruset blue enamel over cast iron cookware pieces for my birthday last year at half the price of what they normally would go for in another store.  I was walking into a culinary mine field.

I suggest going frequently to Home Sense because they have quick stock turnover. If you find something you really like, don’t mull it over for too long because, trust me, it will be gone if you go back a week later. That happened to me with a rug that I saw but, fortunately, a few weeks later the same one came in and at a lower price. Sometimes it pays to wait but it can be risky.

In any case, this past week (Wednesday) I came across a cabinet that really caught my eye. It looks somewhat French in design, 2 drawers and what made me consider it was that it has a small shelf that can be pulled out and used as a keyboard tray ~ price tag $299 (at the top of my budget). It wasn’t in the colour that I wanted but I could change easily change that. Maybe I’ll crackle it in deep red, or find some Asian inspired decals and darken it up. I can get a hinge added to the top drawer and drill a couple holes through the back for the electrical cords. This cabinet had definite possibilities and it will become a creative project too.

I decided to sleep on it and by the next day (Thursday) convinced myself that it would be the perfect fit especially once I was finished altering it. Whenever I am on the hunt for something, I usually cannot find exactly what I want ~ unless it’s a kitchen item then I find way too many. I like the challenge of repurposing or refinishing furniture. The credenza I had given to a family member was given to me many years ago by a friend who had it in his studio.  It had been painted a few times, I was even considering changing the doors to give it a new look and it fit perfectly in the space under my window. Time for it to be enjoyed in a new home. It left my space last week with the help of my nephew who would eventually take it to his mother (or he’s welcome to keep it as I had offered it up to him first).

On Friday, I went back to Home Sense for another look and brought my measuring tape. Loved the cabinet even more! I soon found out that Home Sense does not have a delivery service but do have people you can contact who can deliver large pieces of furniture if you don’t have a vehicle. I don’t have a car but a few friends offered to help me out. I have such wonderful, generous friends. After confirming with one of my friends that she would be available on Saturday to help me get my cabinet home, I went to the cashier and paid. I should mention that the store clerk who brought it to the front noticed a scratch on the top surface and you know what that means…. damage discount! Whenever you purchase a large item at Home Sense, they will store it for you for 5 days for free. I didn’t ask if they would charge storage fees after that time as I was determined to get it home this weekend. If it didn’t fit in my friend’s car, then it would definitely fit in my other friend’s Jeep.

new cabinet  new cabinet 2

Saturday rolls in and I am excited to pick up my cabinet. My friend would be coming for lunch and then we would head to the store. We did a bit of measuring to gauge whether or not her car could accommodate the cabinet and were pretty confident that it would fit. She drives a Mazda 3 and we figured it would be a really tight fit but worth the try.

Lunch was my version of Jamie Oliver’s Asian Beef Salad. I was watching the Food Network over the holidays and the two recipes on this episode both caught my attention, the other being Fish Stew with Saffron Aioli. I really enjoy watching Jamie Oliver. He is a very energetic character with great passion for cooking and, let’s be honest, it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s cute and has an English accent. He’s creative, encourages healthy food choices and I’ll probably explore more of his recipes from his latest series “Jamie’s Fifteen Minute Meals“. I took a quick peek at his personal website and will have to do a bit more exploring.  He has some very interesting recipes and I did not realize that he has published quite a few cookbooks.

My friend is not keen on spicy food so I changed up some of the ingredients and added a few of my own. Took out the chilli peppers, added dried crushed lime and fenugreek leaves to the garam masala rub on the steak and filled my home with the aromas of India. The salad was tossed together with the Asian vinaigrette and the strips of succulent beef piled around the edges. As Jamie says;”Tuck in”.  Indeed we most certainly did!

After lunch we headed to Home Sense and quickly realized that a Mazda 3 is not very cooperative. My new cabinet was 42.5 cm (17 inches deep) ~ 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) too wide to fit into the trunk. If we had been able to get it past the opening, too much of the cabinet would hang out the back since it was also too big to fit past the area where the seats fold down. Our second attempt would be to try and fit it into the back seat. Why don’t the back doors of cars open more? That was part of the first struggle, the next was trying to angle it into the car and have all four legs inside. It would have been a perfect fit if they could be removed but luck was not with us. We could angle the cabinet to get the first pair in but then the second pair was 5 cm (2 inches) too long and we would not be able to close the door. I had visions of using bungee cords to keep the door secured and driving off with the legs jutting out. I live in the neighbourhood so we wouldn’t have far to go.

A few people stopped to watch our struggles, some made helpful suggestions, or comedic remarks, a few even offered their help. We were so close! One Good Samaritan couple actually stepped up to the plate and insisted on helping. We tried the same ways to make the cabinet fit and they both agreed. The cabinet definitely did NOT fit. What really took me by surprised was that they offered to take my prized item in their car and follow us to drop it off at my home. Now how often does that happen in the big city? How often do we put our trust in complete strangers? How incredibly generous were they?

Sure enough the cabinet fit, or at least most of it did with much less hanging out the back and we used the bungee cords to ensure the trunk would stay closed. On the way back to my home I was suddenly struck by the thought: “How am I going to thank these people for their generosity? They are going out of their way to help total strangers. I have to do something. I then remembered that I had a gift card in my wallet that hadn’t made its way into someone’s Christmas stocking. Whew, Tim Horton’s to the rescue! It was clearly meant to be used for a better purpose.

Our furniture convoy headed out and we arrived with the cabinet intact. Once again I profusely thanked the Good Samaritan Couple for their generosity and presented the gift card. At first they refused but I simply had to insist.

After more grateful thank you’s another thought suddenly struck me as I was waving goodbye. I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even shake their hands or get their names. We were so busy unloading the cabinet and then handing them the card that I didn’t keep my hand extended to shake theirs in gratitude. It was clearly understood how grateful I was for their help and we even joked about putting our trust in strangers. To be honest, I was wondering if I should trust them with my newly purchased cabinet and they were wondering if I would trust them enough to put it in their car.

I wouldn’t say that I implicitly trust the generosity of everyone who offers their help and that is really kind of sad to say. Sometimes though, you have to trust your instincts and put your faith in others even if they are strangers. The results can be surprising and very touching.

They will always remain the Good Samaritan Couple from Home Sense Leaside. Thank You both once again for generously offering your car, time and efforts to help me get my cabinet home!

Cabinet Delivery Challenge:

Toyota Corolla (1) – Mazda 3 (0)

Tim Horton’s gift card $25

Good Samaritan Couple ~ priceless!

Good friend helping me out ~ also priceless!

Now at home.

Now at home.

This weekend will be spent rearranging the furniture and purging and hunting for a carpenter who can alter the top drawer (maybe both) with a hinge at a reasonable price.  To paint or not to paint ~ that is the question!

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