Measure Once, Buy Once: A Furniture Shopping Story

By Maggie Reimherr

In the summer of 2015, Derek and I fell in love at a furniture store. No, not with each other. We were already well on our way to marriage at that point. Instead, we fell in love with a gorgeous sectional sofa, marked down to fit snugly in our budget. It even came with adorable decorative pillows! It was meant to be.

We were shopping for Derek’s apartment that would become our apartment post-nuptials. As early twenty-somethings, we were pumped to get some fancy furniture that made us feel like real adults. We were armed with every possible measurement we could need. And this sofa, straight from our furniture dreams (yes, those exist), was the right size for our space.

We committed to the sale with one swipe of the credit card, and the next day, we packed it onto a pickup truck and drove it to the apartment. Here’s where the trouble began.

The apartment building, where we still live, boasts a concierge as one of its amenities. The concierge desk is run by a variety of people. At best, the concierge is a nice person who gives you your UPS packages. At worst, the concierge is the Official Enforcer of Arbitrary Rules (Massachusetts LOVES arbitrary rules). One woman in particular is the bane of our existence. Let’s call her Dolores for the purposes of this story.*

*not her actual name but inspired by Dolores Umbridge

As soon as we pulled up to the apartment, Dolores marched up from her post and shouted, in her thick Massachusetts accent, “Yah cahn’t bring that in heah!”

“Why not, ma’am?” Derek replied, laying the Southern charm on thick. She didn’t fall for it.

“Did yah even read yah resident manual?” Dolores said testily.

“Um, no. Sorry.” (Derek had totally read it.)

“Well, yah gotta reserve thah elevatah for deliveries. Read yah manual.”

How does bringing your furniture into your apartment constitute a delivery? If it was a delivery, Derek should’ve been paying himself.

Disregarding the obviously arbitrary rule, Derek called a friend to help us move the sofa in. The friend arrived, and we began our rebellious, rule-breaking expedition. Dolores immediately attempted to thwart us. She brought in her supervisor, a no-nonsense type who immediately said, “You’ah gonnah get fined fah this. I’m calling one-a-thah building trustees.”

We argued with him. Thinking about it is giving me heart palpitations - I hate breaking the rules. Arguing when I’m caught breaking the rules is just plain torture, so we checked the resident manual. The rules *technically* stated that you had to schedule the elevator for 1) a delivery and 2) your move in. This instance was neither, so we fought to the death on this technicality.

Here enters the trustee, a retiree in gym shorts and neon sneakers, clearly just trying to get his exercise on.

“What seems to be the problem?”

“They’ah tryina bring in this sofah delivery" - “IT’S NOT A DELIVERY!” we protested -  "without reserving thah elevatah,” said Dolores proudly.

“Well, that is the rule…” said the trustee. “But I won’t stop you...this time. Go ahead.”

Dolores visibly deflated in defeat, and off we went to the elevator.

We confidently thought the hardest part was behind us. Wrong. Derek and his friend tried to move the smaller section of the sofa into the elevator. Didn’t fit. Reposition and try again. Still didn’t fit.

Challenged but not completely deterred, Derek and his friend attempted to move the sofa up to the apartment via the very narrow stairs. The apartment is on the 9th floor. They made it to the 2nd floor before realizing it was an impossible mission.

Now we were defeated. We sadly moved the sofa back onto the truck (while Dolores smugly hovered around us) and took it back to the furniture store.

The next day, we bought a sofa that fit in the elevator. It wasn’t our dream sofa, but it gets the job done.

We learned a few lessons that day:

  1. Measure the elevator.

  2. Read the resident manual or face the wrath of the Official Enforcer of Arbitrary Rules.


Afterwards, I was terrified to face Dolores every time I visited Boston (even weeks after I moved in). I eventually got over that fear and learned she’s actually a fairly amusing, sarcastic person. However, she still wears her title of Official Enforcer of Arbitrary Rules with pride, harassing our guests to sign their cars in when they park in a visitors’ parking space.

It was a trial by fire and our first lesson as a couple in adulthood. But hey, at least it makes a good story.