Monday, April 20, 2009

Ode To Restoration Hardware

I can never step foot in my local Restoration Hardware store again.  And it's a crying shame.  There are so many cool retro toys and gadgets for gifts and the linens and towels, well, I confess, I'm addicted and have closets full. But it's all coming to a tragic end.

First things first--  For what seemed like an eternity, I was waist-deep into a major bathroom and bedroom renovation.  We did the whole shebang-- gutted two bathrooms down to the studs, added "real" hardwood floors to the bedroom-- the kind that required massive sanding, built extra closets and waded through more dust and dirt than any human being should ever have to live with.

But finally it was done!  And my house was once again pristinely clean-- or at least as clean as it's going to get on my watch. That's where my beloved Restoration Hardware (R.H.) store comes in.

For five straight days, I shopped at R.H. for the perfect towels, sheets, duvets and shams to complete the remodel.  Each day, I bought complete sets of everything I needed-- 8 sets of towels, 3 sets of bedding, and pillows in every shape and size.  The problem was, each day, it was all the same stuff, just in different colors.  It's embarrassing to admit, but by the end of the week, I literally had 40 complete sets of towels before I made up my mind on which color, and which 8, to keep.  Maybe all the dust had gotten to me, because not only was I suddenly color-challenged and unable make a decision, I was also too stupid to just buy one towel and pillowcase, in each color, to try them out at home.   No, I brought ALL of them, in five different shades.

But the salespeople at R.T, were so darn nice and kept assuring it I was making great choices.  They told me not to think twice about the mounds of shopping bags I was accumulating at home filled with thousands of dollars of wrong-colored towels and linens.  To the R.H. staff, every choice I made was absolutely brilliant and they encouraged me to "try things out" all I wanted.

The truth is, every time I walked into the store, the entire staff would greet me like an old friend, even on the days I came straight off the treadmill still sweating and looking like hell.  On those days, they'd even bring me an ice cold Perrier to sip while they followed me around, pad and pen in hand, making notes of the merchandise I'd selected so it would be all packaged and rung up waiting for me to sign for at the cash register.  Talk about service!   

David, the store manager, was especially nice.  He always dressed like he'd just stepped out of a Polo advertisement wearing pastel v-neck sweaters and stripped button-down shirts. His khaki pants were perfectly pressed and he wore dock shoes with argyle socks that matched his sweaters.  He was a big guy too, so the sweaters always made him easy to spot in the store. Not that I ever had to chase him down; he was like radar.   When I'd appear at the front door, so would he, asking me how he could help.  I have to admit, they really spoiled me.

But finally the dreaded day arrived and I had to return the mounds of towels, countless sheets, and ridiculous quantities of pillows, comforters and throws to the store; so I loaded my SUV until I couldn't see out the back window. Honestly, I had towels crammed in every available square inch of the car.  

Since I was about to blow someone's sales quote all to hell, I made a point of cleaning up and dressing like a respectable person before I drove the mile and a half to the store. That's when the reality of things hit me.  I had so many bags of merchandise to return; I gave a whole new meaning to the term "bag lady".  

I called the store from the parking lot and asked for someone to come out and help me schlepp the carload of stuff back in.  As soon as I said my name, David and three helpers were by my side carrying bags like pack mules.  They insisted I not carry so much as a single bag!  It was nice, but frankly, kind of embarrassing.

Inside the store, David had another ice cold Perrier waiting for me and said he'd be right with me to carry my new purchases.

Purchases???  What new purchases?  I wasn't planning on buying anything else!  I'd just returned half the contents of his store for crying out loud.  I started to pace.  He followed me. Finally landing at the potpourri section, I decided to buy a few bags as a parting gift-- since they'd been so nice to me and all-- and I wanted to finish my Perrier.  

As I sniffed the lemon-fresh packages, David leaned in, and in a hushed whisper, asked "What are you working on?"

He's kidding, right?  "Um, my bathroom and bedroom, you know, all the stuff I've been buying?"

"No, seriously... what projects are you working on?  You can tell me.  I'll keep it under wraps?"

David, honey, what are you talking about?

And then he says it.  And I almost fell on the floor.

"We know who you really are."

Don't laugh but, apparently, David and all the lovely staff at Restoration Hardware were under the impression that-- I was Patricia Heaton-- the Emmy-winning actress from "Everybody Loves Raymond".  Holy crap were they wrong!

I explained how very, very flattered I was but, no, I definitely am NOT Patricia Heaton. 

But he didn't believe me!

He insisted my credit card was issued under a "cover name" and I could "just be myself" at R.H.  He promised they'll never call the media or mention my name to anyone.  I could shop in peace anytime I wanted in his store.  This seemed to be a big point for him since Miss Heaton was, at the time, starring with Kelsey Grammer in "Back To You" on Fox.

Now, for the record, on my very best, most fabulous day, I do not look anything like Patricia Heaton.  I wish I did, but I don't.  Not even a little.  The only thing we have in common is we're both 51 and have brown hair. Where David pulled this case of mistaken identity from is beyond me.  I sincerely tried, for several minutes, to talk him down from his crazy idea, but he wasn't buying it.

By this time, I was beyond embarrassed and realized Patricia Heaton was the only reason David had ever brought me an ice cold Perrier.  Has a sales person EVER brought YOU an ice cold Perrier while you were shopping for towels?   I didn't think so, but that fact, while I was shopping like a crazy fool, was totally lost on me.  

No matter how much I protested the more convinced he was that Miss Heaton was in his presence.  So I gave up. Which is why I can never go back to my favorite store.

You see, Patricia Heaton lives here in Los Angeles and this particular Restoration Hardware could possibly be a store she'd actually shop at in the future.  It's a long shot, but can you imagine if we were both in the store at the same time?  Oh my gawd!  I'm afraid David would snatch his ice cold Perrier right out of my hand.

As I signed my return receipt, with over $3000 deducted from my Visa, (phew!) and watched as my two piddly bags of potpourri were being extra-specially wrapped just for Patricia Heaton, I realized David was once again by my side.... with a fresh ice cold Perrier.... "for the road".  To make matters worse, he insisted on walking me to my car, as he carried my mini shopping bag of potpourri.  Driving away I saw him waving until I was out of sight.  

I'm sure going to miss him..... and Restoration Hardware.

Welcome to TheFiftyFactor  -  Joanna


  1. Great story, Joanna! That is too funny. Patricia Heaton is one of my favorite actresses. At the risk of sounding like a typical man, I think she's incredibly attractive also. So, you should feel really happy that you were mistaken for her!

    I'm afraid to think of who I might be mistaken for... it wouldn't be good, that's for sure!

  2. Oh how funny---and flattering! The closest I've ever come to being compared to a celebrity was when a salesperson mistook me for a man on the phone and when informed of his mistake, swore up and down that I sound "just like Ernest Borgnine!"

  3. LOL! At first I thought that Restoration Hardware was going out of business, and I have yet to get the faucet I want. Phew! Thank goodness, it's not. But the Hollywood treatment, hysterical! I have been treated well, but not that well at the Berkeley store. Having grown up in L.A., I would sometimes see familiar faces and not know if I had gone to school with the person or they were a TV star or something.

  4. Oh my, now that is hilarious. Loved this post. Patricia Heaton is cute as well! Imagine the stories they were telling, too funny. I hope you enjoyed all the attention nonetheless!

  5. What a fun story. You must resemble Patricia, or this wouldn't have happened. I'm often told I look like Catherine O'Hara, the "Home Alone Mom," especially when I'm around kids who grew up with the movie. It happens so often that I think I should contact her to see if she needs a stunt double. Maybe we could start a stunt double agency? :-)

  6. That really is a fun story! Love it! :)


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