Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Morning Thanks--the Aeron

I don't know when or where I heard about Aeron chairs, but once upon a time I did. Years ago, a man in town had a business that bought up semi-loads of used office furniture. This guy had one, I remember--maybe $100, used, of course, the smell of smoke lingering in it somewhere since most of his office furniture did. I sat in it but didn't buy it, not when I could get some padded monster twice its size for half the price.

Now I remember. A friend of mine in Michigan told me that his daughter worked at the Herman Miller corporation, one grand place to be employed. "Have you ever sat in an Aeron chair?" he said. I knew what they were from the fire sale. He couldn't stop singing their praises.

And then the really good news. "You can pick up something refurbished right from the back of the factory in Zeeland," he told me. I was going to be nearby the next day, so I stopped at the factory, picked one out, and had it shipped to Iowa.

That was ten years ago at least, probably more, a dozen years during which my considerable bulk has been comfortably situated in a bona fide Aeron right down here in the basement. It's wonderful.

Last summer, mine stopped rocking. It was still a great chair, but one of its many glorious movements quit, and I missed it. I downloaded the service manual, then pulled and pushed all the buttons--nothing.

So I e-mailed the company's service department and got a really helpful guy named Brandon, who told me to call him. It was August, school was starting, and things got busy. I didn't. Listen, if you've got an Aeron chair and it doesn't tip politely backward, that doesn't mean you're bloody dying.

This summer I called Brandon, as instructed, and he was still there. Seated right here at my desk, I listened to his patient advice, pulled and pushed on every last button and switch on the dream chair, as requested, all to no avail. It still wouldn't rock.

"Where are you?" he says. I tell him Iowa, far northwest, close to Sioux Falls. Pause. "Brown and Sanger," he says, and he gives me a phone number. "They'll work on it for you."

"No kidding?" I said, and he told me to give them a call.

Now I figure I'm going to be really high on their list, some schmuck more than an hour away with a single chair that stopped tipping its hat. Give me a break. Besides, I know I can live with this petty misdemeanor--so what if it won't tip back?

But I went to their website and sent an e-mail to their service address. Within the hour, I got a response. [This story is not fiction.] "I'm coming to Sioux Center tomorrow--I can take a look at it then," the guy said, a man named Brad.

Can you believe that?--curbside service. A house call. Sure enough, Brad shows up, comes down here in the basement, fiddles with the knobs, jerks on my blessed Aeron as if he were a bonzo chiropractor, but still nothing.

"I'll take it along to the shop," he says, "and I'll let you know when we got it finished. Oh yeah--see this back brace?--I'll fix that for you too, toss on a new one." Then he lugs it out of the basement.

I'm not kidding. This is all just the way it happened.

A weekend passes, then an e-mail. Yesterday, my son-in-law and daughter stopped at Sioux Falls's Brown and Sanger and picked up my sweet Aeron, and, voila, I'm right here in the throne as we speak. NO CHARGE. I'm not kidding. Chair has warranty, Brad says. I swear, I'm not making this up.

If this incredible saga sounds like some marketing scheme, then, dang it, so be it. I love this chair, always have. I was more than willing to spend the rest of my life in it even if it didn't do me the pleasure of tipping back--as I said, I'm not suffering. Besides, my Aeron is not young anymore and neither am I. I don't tip backward easily myself, for heaven's sake. This blessed chair is the best piece of furniture I own.

But if you read this blog at all, you know that at its heart is thanksgiving, daily thanks; and that's why, this morning, in a rugless, almost bone-dry basement, the shop/vac still standing across the room like a sentry, I am thankful--really, really thankful--not only for this sweet chair but for people from Herman Miller and Brown and Sanger, people like Brandon and Brad, who've treated me royally, start to finish, treated me as if this great Aeron really is a throne.

Just amazing.


Todd said...

I've been comfortably perched in an Aeron for about 10 years myself. We took advantage of our Herman Miller connections, too. However, since West Michigan is also the home of Steelcase, we have a "Leap" in our home. That chair is an office throne, too.

But, the story is not about chairs, really. It's interesting that we particularly notice when people do their work, stand behind their product, and don't hand us red tape and special conditions. It's as though good service is the exception rather than the norm. Makes me think about how my own work and service is perceived/received. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting a smile on my face this a.m.