So, you’re going to have a piece of furniture reupholstered, are you? I’ll bet it’s your sofa, isn’t it? It is? Ha, I knew it! How did I know? We writers are practically psychic, that’s how I know. It’s a professional talent, you might say — something acquired after many years of studying people. Why, I can look into a person’s eyes and see his whole living room. I’m seeing your living room right now, as a matter of fact. What a mess! Don’t you ever clean? Open a window! It stinks in here! I can tell just by looking at your living room that you’re headed for disaster unless I save you. What do I mean? Why, just this: you are about to make one of the most important decisions of your life. You have to choose an upholsterer!
What difference does it make? Listen, would you let just anybody pack your parachute? I should hope not! You don’t take chances when it comes to reupholstering a piece of furniture either. You and your family may be sitting on it the rest of your lives (especially if you’re on welfare).
Now let me show you the way. Follow me and be safe. Go your own way and step on a land mine. Get my drift? Good.
Let us open the Yellow Pages and look under “Upholsterers.” There are many to choose from, but I see red flags all over the place. Keep a sharp eye out for listings like these:
Acme Upholstery. No street address given. And why not? Because they move around from place to place! It’s a fly-by-night operation, don’t you see? This is the sort of outfit that will lure a person to a fake address and then beat him and rob him! They don’t pay their bills or their rent either, I’m sure of that.
Joe Giganto Upholstery. Never mind him. He has a fat name. You don’t want a fat upholsterer, do you? He’s probably connected to the Mafia as well.
Metro School of Upholstery. What do we have here? I’ll tell you: a bunch of slovenly immigrants who came here without any trade or education, and they think they can be upholsterers. Are you going to trust a bunch of students? You’ll be the guinea pig. They’ll make their mistakes on your sofa. “Oh, excuse us, please, we are just learning!”
Sam’s Upholstery, 443 Shuter St. Bad neighborhood. Stay away. Let somebody who isn’t reading this go and get his throat cut.
Tim & Damien, Fine Upholsterers. A couple of homos, for sure. Too prissy, too fussy, too expensive. (And don’t rush them! Upholstery is an art form! It takes time!)
Ilie Romanescu. Gypsy. Forget it. Your sofa will come back with bedbugs in it.
Wong Upholstery and Restoration. NO CHINESE UPHOLSTERERS, OKAY? Shoddy workmanship, cheap or even dangerous materials, and they put their garbage in the upholstery, figuring no one will ever know. Some of them are abortionists as well.
Heinrich Zimmler. Ad says, “In Business Since 1950.” This guy’s a former Nazi concentration camp guard. Trust me. I used to do apartment-locating for Nazi war criminals.
Ram Upholstery. Ad says, “Next door to Ram Bakery.” I get it. The upholstery shop is sharing the same building with the bakery. These guys are Wogs, and their Indian bakery is barely paying the rent, so they’re trying to do a little upholstery on the side. NO WOG UPHOLSTERERS, OKAY?
All the others pass the first cut.
Now you have to go visiting. Don’t call first. Pretend you were just walking in the neighborhood, saw the sign, and dropped in. This way you catch them as they really are. Look the place over carefully. You want to see a busy shop, good lighting, good ventilation, a water cooler, a calendar, a sign that says “Fire Exit,” the business license prominently displayed, decals for major credit cards, and a few awards of some sort in frames mounted on the wall. Workers must not look stoned. Elaborate tattoos are bad. No sneakers. No earrings. No women. (This is a man’s trade.) Classical music playing in the background is good; hip-hop is bad. How does the place smell? It should have normal upholstery smells. Any weird smells and you should probably walk out. (The clincher is the absence of pets in the shop. Animals won’t stay where it doesn’t smell right.) Is the boss single or married? Never trust a single upholsterer. There have been cases of serial killers who were upholsterers, and they were all single. And how do you think they disposed of their victims? They cut them up into small pieces and stuffed them into people’s furniture!
Picking the wrong upholsterer can lead to a tragic outcome, as Mr. G. Wilson of 73 The Bridle Path, Toronto, can attest: “I came home from work to find my wife raped and murdered, my valuables stolen, and my house wrecked. To add insult to injury, my reupholstered sofa was returned with scratches on it, the workmanship was poor, and the bill was far above the original estimate.”
Such upholstery tragedies often go unreported in the media because the families are too ashamed to talk about them. But they do happen — far too often. I asked Toronto Police Chief William Blair about the problem of bad upholsterers. Here’s what he said: “It’s certainly a sad state of affairs when a minority of upholsterers do bad things that make the whole profession look bad, which it isn’t. Someday these bad characters will learn that it’s wrong to kill their customers and cheat them and steal from them. I wish there were some way we could get that message across to them. I’m not sure what we can do. I just think somebody should do something to stop it.”
Until somebody does put a stop to it, you, the consumer, are your own first (and last) line of defense. Go ahead and reupholster that sofa if you have to. (If you just suffer with it in its present state, the evildoers win.) But for God’s sake, take heed of everything I’ve written, and keep your wits about you!
Copyright@ 2008 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada. E-mail: email@example.com