Running the simplest errand can be painful and time consuming in this town. I usually expect things to go wrong or not to go as planned. The beauty of this is that when things do occasionally get accomplished promptly, I am very pleasantly surprised. Today, I decided that I was going to get my new watch fixed. The watch was a way overpriced gift from an associate at a staff function. I'm not much of a watch person but it was a Swiss Army watch and I thought hey, they make good knives so the watch may be alright. Upon trying it on, it was obvious that it was sized for a man with a much larger and hairier forearm than mine. Recently, I had seen a Swiss Army booth in Pasa Raya so I decided to go and see what would happen. Astonishingly, the guy working at the booth was able to re-size the watch by removing a few links in approximately 3 minutes. When I asked how much it would cost (before he started so I wouldn't be surprised) he said "terselah" (up to you) which meant it was free of charge but I could tip him for his services. Tip him I did as he made my day. There I was with my new (and very expensive as it turns out) re-sized watch on my arm with lots of time to spare since I had planned on this errand taking up most of my afternoon. We had some nice lunch in the basement and enjoyed some people watching. Pasa Raya is the best place in Jakarta to see what I like to call mismatches. After finishing lunch, we went to get my bike which I had cleverly parked on Jl. Paletehan. If you've ever parked in the Pasa Raya bike parking lot, you'd understand why I parked where I did. If you think that I parked there for any other reason then shame on you!
As I got to the end of the street, there was a parked van blocking my view of traffic. I slowly rolled up to the van and to my surprise (not really) a 40 something year old man walked right out in front of me without looking. I honked to inform him that I was there and he looked up and started laughing hysterically at the fact that he hadn't looked before crossing the street and almost got hit by a vehicle. I did what I usually do in this instance (yes, it happens a lot, more to come about that in a future posting) and pointed my fingers at my eyes in a sign gesture to watch where you are going. As I'm writing this now, it seems kind of funny but at the time it was more infuriating than funny. I say that because I don't think I'd be laughing if I was responsible for injuring somebody with my motorbike. I continued on down the road and decided that I would use my bonus free time to go check out a mattress sale that I had seen on the way to the watch shrinkening. I know, I'm so cool.
I have been fantasizing about buying a new mattress for a few months now. Other expenses have put it on the back burner. My old mattress was fantastic for about 3 years and then it got horribly saggy and uncomfortable almost overnight. I decided that I'd learn from my past mattress experience and spend a lot on a new mattress. After all, you spend one third of your life in bed doing 2 of the things that I enjoy doing the most; sleeping and reading. Got ya, you thought I was going to say watching TV, didn't ya?
As I pulled into the mattress shop, the parking guy asked me and the Mrs. where we were going. I found this to be hilarious since the parking lot was solely for the mattress store. He didn't get the ironic humor when I explained while laughing that I wanted to maybe buy a bed and that this was why I wanted to park in the bed store parking lot. He directed me to the tiny bike area in the back and we proceeded to enter the store. I laughed even harder when I saw a sign that there was also a fertility clinic in the upstairs of the building. We entered and saw that there were only 2 girls working there. They were both preoccupied with sucking up to a "rich" lady at the front counter so we got to go and have a look around. This is the opposite of most retail stores in Indonesia, there are usually more people working in a store than people shopping. We looked around, sat on a few mattresses and looked at a few catalogues which didn't have bed statistics as I expected but instead was full of fabric samples for your mattress. I found this to be odd since the only time I've ever looked at the fabric on my mattress is when I was changing the sheets. One of the sales girls stuck her head around the corner and informed us that she'd be be with us in a moment. I didn't care since a mattress shop is probably the best place in the world to have "sit" and wait for service.
Eventually, she came over to talk to us and was very friendly. She first asked if we wanted a firm or medium mattress. Then she asked which brands interested us and offered to show us some fabric catalogues. It's a bed, not a couch! The fabric on the mattress could have My Little Pony on it for all I care as long as it is super comfortable and suitable for watching hours and hours of TV. I then politely told her that I would like to know the prices of mattresses. She asked if it was mattress only or mattress plus 12 accessories. I said mattress aja since I didn't feel like getting into a discussion about what material I'd like my pillows to be stuffed with before I'd actually picked out a mattress. I picked one random mattress and she went to get her price listing book. All I really wanted was to see that book for myself but I knew that wasn't going to happen. She said that the mattress I'd chosen was around 18 million (ouch). I then asked about another one and I was given another astonishing quote. I asked to make sure that it was the price for just the mattress and not the whole shebang and it was indeed just the mattress. I then had the Mrs. ask about which beds were on sale as the sign outside that had originally intrigued me stated. She told us that all Serta (I think) brands were 40% off, King Koils were 50% off and some Italian brand were 50% off. OK, I thought, now we are talking. I asked how much this Italian mattress was. She told me 22 million. I asked if that was after the 50% discount and she informed me that it was. I then asked how much a certain Serta mattress was after the 40% discount and she pulled out her calculator and pricing list. I tried to get a look at the pricing list in her hand as I was getting annoyed at this point. She did her best to hide the list and informed me that this Serta mattress (no box spring or frame or duvet or pillow or stuffed sheep or guling) was reduced to 27 million after the 40% discount. I laughed at her and told her that it would be cheaper to buy one of these mattresses in the US or Italy and have them shipped here since her prices were so high. She gave me her best fake smile and informed me that their beds cost the same as a store in a Western country. Just to be sure, I confirmed that the Serta mattress in front of me would be roughly 40 million were there not a 40% discount. She assured me that this was true while I once again tried in vain to get a peek at her pricing list. Then, she informed me that they did have some beds that were cheaper and they offered free delivery for all mattresses. I looked at her and said this is garbage (I said a bad word in Indonesian but I'm trying not to curse while writing, OK) and informed her that there was no chance that I'd ever be buying a bed from this store. She assured me that their prices are very competitive and I assured her that I didn't want to listen to her for one more second and was leaving. A friend of mine has a real nice mattress comparable to the one that I was looking at and I'm pretty sure he paid around 5 million for his.
We walked out and I sarcastically informed the parking guy that I wanted to go home. As we were walking to the bike compound, the Mrs. informed me that my behaviour was unacceptable and that she didn't want to shop with me if I was going to act like that. I informed her that there was no way that I was going to let someone disrespect me like that and then smile and thank them for treating me like a fool. I know how I should act in that situation and I often do act accordingly but there was no chance that was going to happen today. Then, I proceeded to tell the Mrs. that the girl inside was lucky that I didn't say what I was really thinking and that I told her off in the most polite way possible. The disapproving look on her face told me that it is not possible to politely tell someone off.
So now here I am again on my lumpy old mattress playing on the computer since the TV has been temporarily disconnected. It has occurred to me that these blogs are a bit arrogant since there are millions of people in this country who can barely afford to buy a foam mat to sleep on and some who don't even have a roof over their heads. I recently explained this to a friend by using the analogy that this blog is a bit like complaining that my gold watch hurts my arm or that my diamond shoes are giving me blisters. That being said, my new re-sized Swiss Army watch is hurting my arm because it's so heavy but I'm not complaining.
Sleep well y'all