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The Little Cabinet That Could

A hugely accomplished little piece of furniture.
A hugely accomplished little piece of furniture. And the tallest bed I've ever seen.
For a West Coast girl, learning to live on public transit is like learning how to write with your non-dominant hand. Lots of people do it. You know it’s possible. But it’s ugly and awkward and uncomfortable for a long time.

Unlike writing, reliance on public transit can also create some amusing situations. Like this weekend. This weekend, I went shopping for apartment stuff. My apartment has been a complete mess since I got here. I have no storage, only a futon, ironing board, cast iron pan and a mattress. It’s not exactly Trump Tower over here, y’know?

I was doing all right until the mattress was delivered. This thing is the biggest twin mattress I’ve ever seen. I got it because it was super cheap *and* made right here in Chicago. Turns out, it’s also extremely comfy…and about two feet tall. I feel like I’m living the Princess and the Pea story every time I go to sleep.

So my first morning after sleeping on it, I reach down to turn my alarm off and almost fall out of bed. My arm isn’t long enough to reach the floor from the bed. I decide, that’s it, I need a nightstand.

Saturday afternoon I’m perusing Home Goods, noting cheap kitchenwares and looking for ideas on how to create some semblance of privacy around my “bedroom.” (Yay, lofts.) And I stumble on some really cheap nightstands. I hem and haw, send Mom some pictures, hem and haw some more. A lady passes by me.

“That one’s really cute. You should get it,” she says.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. I’d get it myself, but I’m taking the bus home.”

This should make me think, “Oh, crap, I’m taking the bus home too,” but in reality, I think, “You wuss. THE TABLE SHALL BE ALL MINE!”

Disappointingly for the story, I didn’t buy that table. But I did buy *a* table. A three-and-a-half foot-high bedside table. I surveyed it carefully. I could put my purse and other purchases inside its cabinet door, and then I would only have to carry the one thing. Cleverness!

I check out and ask, as nonchalantly as I can muster, if the clerk has a bag large enough to fit at least partway over the table. This being the Midwest, she helps me pull the largest bag they have over the bottom. I figure this will give me something to hold on to, as well as keep the door from swinging around and hitting other bus riders.

So my table and I ride down the escalator to street level. I savvily avoid attempting to go through the rotating door with my nightstand, having made a similar mistake earlier in the day when I tried to go through one at Target with a newly purchased rolling laundry hamper. (Thank goodness the hamper was Rubbermaid. The sound it made when it got smashed in the door made a little girl near me scream. Or maybe that was me.)

And then it’s out on the street. My chances of escaping the store unseen are shot. This being Saturday night, Michigan Avenue, one of Downtown’s main drags, is heavily populated with girls in too much makeup holding onto guys in pants that are too tight. They are all conspicuously lacking unwieldy pieces of furniture.

I make my way across the street to a similarly crowded bus stop. My phone tells me it will be fifteen minutes before my bus arrives. So I plop the nightstand next to the stop and sit on the top of it, as if sitting on a bedside table at a bus stop is the most natural thing to do on a Saturday night. Haven’t you heard? It’s all the rage in Europe. I hear the French pair up and carry around small dressers.

I am so busy looking nonchalant that I nearly miss my bus. I hope that it is not the oddest thing a bus driver has ever seen brought on board. In a misguided attempt to be considerate, I make my way to the back of the bus and sit between two men. In order to keep the nightstand secure, I have to hold it between my knees. I’m now making contact with these dudes’ knees in a way that would get me fired if we worked for the same company, plus the people in the row ahead of me are now boxed in. So at the next stop, I move to the rear exit and stand there, stalwartly refusing to make eye contact with any of the other patrons.

For the rest of the ride, I felt like Kramer from Seinfeld. This is so something he would do. I became appreciative of the table’s distressed finish when I realized that at every stop, the door was going to open right into the side of the table. I became even more appreciative when the name of my stop was called.

I’m now attached to this $60 piece of crap table, because I look at it and laugh. It made it, like me. It’s still in one piece despite a bumpy ride. I can relate to that.

But I think I’ll be ordering my dresser from Amazon.

Published in My Life in Boystown


  1. LOL! What a great story! The nice thing about public transportation in a big city is that ANYTHING goes. Seriously. You weren’t drunk or high or muttering (I don’t think), so that gained you several points in the eyes of your fellow passengers. Not too long ago, I was riding a bus in San Francisco when a drunk, muttering guy got on, carrying a grocery store basket. It held five glass bottles of vodka, all with the anti-theft guards still on them. He’d tried to hide them by placing two packages of tortillas on top. They clanked around at every stop.

    You are far more normal than that.

  2. Goosey


    LOL That is the best furniture story ever, and it’s so you.

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