Though this is Tuesday, February 8, 2005, this log refers to the events that transpired on Sunday, February 6, 2005 -- the end of my work week.

Last night -- well, technically two nights ago, but I haven't yet slept -- I had an interesting situation. Around 5pm, I was working with a customer on wrapping up the final details of her kitchen. Another couple showed up and asked me when I would be done. I vaguely recognized the male half of the pair. Being rather busy with the first part of finalizing a major sale, I told them I had no idea when I would be done, and would they like to make an appointment with a kitchen designer for another day? No, they wouldn't. They wanted ME, and they wanted me that SAME DAY. I told them I'd try. I was supposed to clock out at 7pm. Moreover, though I didn't tell them this, I had the following day off, and I really wanted to get out on time.

I finished up with the woman at around 5:30pm. That sale will probably happen this week, to the tune of about $18k US, not including countertops and other items. All this time, the other folks had been hovering about. I yanked off my apron, told them I'd be right back, and scurried off to the restroom for a badly needed break.

Once I got back to my station and re-aproned, I re-greeted my new customers and rapidly remembered who they were. I'd worked with the man before but I didn't recall his wife at first. She spoke with an interesting accent I couldn't identify.

This was one of those classic situations: Okey initially came to me in mid-2004, wanting a kitchen design for some new construction he was planning. We laid out a design, but he didn't have his final measurements and would not have them until all the drywall was up. So, bye-bye for then.... As I said, once I heard the name, I actually did remember him and was very pleased he'd come back -- I thought I'd lost him. Of course, by then the design had been automatically deleted from the computer, and I had to recreate everything. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but this guy wanted me to lay out and sell an entire kitchen, PLUS sell him a bunch of appliances, PLUS sell him his granite countertops...all in one and a half hours. The sink is going to be an issue and will have to be sold later.

I have developed a talent with design in the last two and a half years, and I am lightning quick with the computer so long as it is behaving itself, but there was no way I could do all of that in an hour and a half all by myself. I told them this from the outset. There was no one scheduled in appliances who could help me out by working up a separate appliance order while I was working up the kitchen, and it was sheer luck -- no, wait, hard work on my part! -- that I knew how to order appliances, even though that's technically not my responsibility.

So, I recreated the kitchen design from scratch, which I needed to do anyway since he now had new measurements. Surprise, the walls were flipflopped left to right since the last time I laid it out. And yes, ten foot ceilings. High, short windows wouldn't impact the design. And there is a totally weird (and semi-genius) 1-7/8" recess into the wall for the refrigerator. I wonder who thought that up, and why they only pulled it back two inches. I've recessed fridges into walls before, but I've never seen a house plan with a recess already there. And if they're going to all that trouble, then why so shallow? Base cabinets are 24 inches deep. Refrigerators are typically somewhere around 32 inches deep. So why recess it 2 inches, and not 6 or more? Door clearances will apply, of course, but still... wild... but weird. Very weird.

No, they don't want a microwave hood anymore as my ancient notes had indicated; they now want one of the fancy wood hoods. But the wife turns out to have a fixation on ease of cleaning. They dither a while and finally pick a rather simple wooden hood. Easy to clean, I guess; it seems plain to me, but the crown moulding will help, and it's their kitchen, not mine. We continue with a discussion about the oven/microwave combination and the cooktop. Do they really want that? Yes, they do. (Some folks just want two ovens, in which case something like a Gemini range, or a standard range and an Advantium hood will do, and it's a nice solution if you aren't lacking in counter space.) Back to the hood again: recirculating or ducted? Ehhhh...... they dither, and finally decide on ducted after I show them what it will look like it they make it recirculating.

They have one of those nasty, nasty setups where sink happens to be in an island with a raised bar, in which the kneewall is "bent" into two forty-five degree angles, sort of like this:


Why is this nasty? (And I don't mean the feeble ASCII art.)

  1. It wastes cabinetry space. There's a lot of dead space created as you go around the corners.

  2. Cabinetry installation is more difficult.

  3. An island (or anything else bent like this) will significantly raise the cost of the countertop.

Architects ADORE putting these damnable things in, but they rarely, if ever, have a clue about kitchen design. If you see a 45 degree angle in kitchen cabinetry, island or not, beware! Whether or not there is a sink in such an island doesn't mitigate any of the above factors, but it may well limit the size of your sink, which did apply in this case. We then had the discussion about how we'd have to pick a sink very carefully, since there was not much room, if any, for a double bowl sink.

It was not a large kitchen, despite the fact that they wanted all the bells and whistles: All plywood construction, buffered self-closing ball-bearing glide full extension drawers, and drawer front upgrades, too. Oh, and yes, please, they also wanted to open a store credit card. Hurrah!

All of that would take time, however. At 6:15pm I called up the manager and warned him that I was likely to go over. He asked me how far I thought I'd go over time. I told him I had no idea, but probably not too far over. He told me to go ahead and do what I needed to do, but that I should call him about 15 minutes before I actually went overtime.

I tried to work at a rate somewhere betweeen lightspeed and making sure I wasn't screwing up. There is no point in not going into overtime at the expense of making a mistake that could cost us hundreds if not thousands of dollars. I filled out the measurement waiver (since the customer would be installing this), counted up all the crown moulding, light rail, and toekick by hand, and then printed out elevations and the parts list. Then we began the tedious but necessary game of cabinetry bingo, in which we identify every single last part and where it goes, and make sure nothing is extraneous or missing. We did find one issue: Countertop supports for the raised bar at the sink area. He didn't know if he wanted to paint his supports to match his drywall, or get fancy ones to match the cabinetry. We agreed that he'll get back to me later if he wants to order them from me.

By this time, I'm well over time and have already made my call back to my manager. It's about 7:30pm. The store closes in half an hour, and now the race is critical: If I don't finish in time, the customers won't be able to make their purchase. I call my manager again and ask him to hold a register open for my customer. I prepare the cabinetry order for the register, have my customer sign off on assorted things, and breathe a sigh of relief.

After all the kitchen stuff, they wanted to order appliances, too. They wanted the cooktop and microwave/oven combo to arrive sometime in March, but wanted the dryer this month. (It is, in fact, the ganormously huge Maytag dryer that has room in it to hang stuff up or use the shelves to dry sweaters. How cool is that?) In bisque, please. I worked that up, and it took a while as their billing address and the new construction address are different. I staged the order for the dryer. Then I went into a different part of the computer and processed their application for a store credit card. I convinced them not to put her name on the card, because they might be able to get a future deal by getting her her own card. At the appropriate spot, it asked me if a sale is pending. I entered the combined sale total (kitchen plus humongous clothes dryer). It approved him and spat out a credit total rounded up to the next thousand dollars. It was now about 7:55pm.

Then they said... "Wait, we wanted a washer, too!" I cursed under my breath... bad me. They heard it anyway. Bless them, they were cool about it and understood we were out of time. We agreed that they'd come back on Tuesday to buy the remaining appliances and the granite countertops.

I was now an hour overtime. I packed my customers up with a folder full of the floor plan and all the annotated elevations and such that they'd need, we signed everything that needed to be signed, and we shook hands, warmly. I directed them to the one counter that was being held open specifically for them, since the store was now closed.

After clocking out, and on my way out, myself, I stopped to make sure my customers were getting through the purchase alright. They were. They were especially happy, in fact, because it turned out that they got a discount with the new credit card. And they were even MORE happy with me, since I'd advised her NOT to put her name as an additional approved user on the card. Tuesday, they'll get another card under her name, and get another discount off the rest of their purchases.