The Luxury of Indecision

Don’t you just love furniture you buy in a box and assemble yourself? 

It’s like a specially ordered team-building exercise with a product you can use waiting at the end. Early in our dating relationship, Billy purchased one of these fine activities and asked me to help him put it together. 

Unfortunately for him, I am weak in the area of “completing tasks with tools” and really see myself more as someone who tell stories and attempts to make others laugh while they are busily working. This philosophy does not bode well for me in the job market… there are very few openings for “court jester.”

So there we are… me prattling on and Billy studying a wordless diagram that makes little to no sense and trying to put poles together in a way that you would trust it to bear weight. Not looking promising, folks.
After being instructed to sort various parts, I look at the booklet… look at my piles… and declare, “I don’t think we have everything.”

Billy surveys the situation, searching for the missing bolts and poles. Sure enough, save some liberal use of duct tape, we can’t put this piece together.

“Bummer!” Billy exclaims. “That’s too bad.” He begins gathering the pieces, tossing them back into the box. “I guess I’ll take this down to throw it away.”

Wait… WHAT?!

Then I learned that, in Guatemala, you cannot return anything to the store! Apparently, even if you bought it and it’s short pieces, you just curse your luck and cross your fingers for next time. Billy and I were both awe-struck. Me that there was a place in the world where you can’t return an incomplete piece of furniture, and him that there was a place where you can: Wal-Mart.

Billy was so nervous I was lying about return policies, he basically begged me to lead the way. He was certain that when they asked for his Driver’s License, he would end up being deported, or worse… the retail staff would publicly mock him for thinking he could return a broken item.

Thankfully, I’m a professional “returner,” so I’d pretty much been training for this day all my life. I approached the service desk while Billy lurked nearby, ready to act like he didn’t know me when the rotten tomato throwing began.

Soon we were on our way home with a new box of pieces to assemble. Great. Why didn’t I just let him throw it away?

I was flabbergasted to discover that exchanging defective merchandise was a luxury. Not to mention the times I simply change my mind… or don’t feel like trying something on inside the store. I’m glad I could introduce Billy to the American dream of indecision and return policies. Now I drive him crazy by collecting piles of merchandise and shouting, “Don’t touch! I’m taking them back.”

Are you a big “returner”? Do you have an unusual return policy situation? Do you like building your own furniture?


  1. I am a chronic returner married to a man who used to refuse to try on pants in the store claiming that "they're all the same size." It's a work in progress:) I think we have come to an agreement that if he won't try them on, I won't take them back. I think he'd rather wear them held up with shoe strings than return them!

  2. Denise L Hershberger9:50 PM

    I don't LOVE returning things but I am thankful that we are able to do that here in the US. Of course sometimes I think that we'd be more careful what we spend our money on to begin with if we didn't have the luxury of returns...

  3. You make an excellent point, Denise! I also wonder how return policies affect pricing both in the churn of merchandise, and if retailers can get away with mark-ups because buyers convince ourselves we can think about it and bring it back if it's too much.


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