Mail Orders, Colors, and Lessons in Perception



Maybe it’s taken me longer than most people to become totally disenchanted with mail ordering, but after a recent delivery, I’ve vowed never to be suckered into the “convenient” way of shopping again.  Buying something, site unseen, except for an artist’s rendition or a photographer’s best attempt to present a product accurately, has always resulted in extra costs to me in the form of return postage, or gas to make in-person exchanges or request refunds not easily procured.

Case in point: After searching the IKEA website for a new cover to replace the recycle/reuse patchwork one now falling apart at the seams, I came across a “Gernap Brown” one that looked as if it would match the area rug and other earth tone décor of the living room.  I grudgingly spent the extra $20 for delivery, since I calculated that a drive to the store in another state and back from our “nowhere near a progressive store” location, would cost as much, and, come to find out, MORE!  Ten days later, a box twice the size of the cover appeared at the door, compliments of UPS. I was excited because out-of-town company was due to arrive in a few days, and now there would be something decent for them to sit on. 

(Note to reader: we live on “Green Acres”—-remember the television show with the 2 city slickers from New York….the man always trying to be a farmer, and the woman hanging in there, but always lamenting the loss of her clean and polished lifestyle once enjoyed in the big city exchanged for a house in need of repairs and personal belongings buried beneath farm dust and piles of things constantly breaking down?)  Packages arriving in the mail are always exciting to open, especially when you’re living out of your comfort zone.  Something other than predictable bills (have you noticed how the next one comes even quicker when you pay what’s due), the unwanted advertisements of local stores (the best fire-starter money can’t buy), or the birthday card a friend mailed a month ago but weeks later found its way to your door because rural mail travels through longer channels  (like the “good ‘ole days”), making mail order deliveries the event of the month.

There is only one “snafoo” as far as I can figure:  what you see isn’t always what you get!  More precisely, colors I perceive from online depictions are not true to the colors faithful employees will swear are the same as the picture on their company’s website. “Gurnap Brown” online looks like “Milk Chocolate Brown” on the IKEA website (to me), but personal and up-close it’s  more like “what the brown couch looks like after dogs have been outside in the mud, run into the house, jumped on the sofa, and done a couple of body rolls ”.   So, I could reason, this ought to be a selling point for “Green Acre” farmers like us, since there are in fact dogs that attempt to do this daily!   Even so, I’d like to think my guests can be invited to sit on something that’s NOT the color of mud the first day! 

Then, only a few hours later, in the paint section of a “big box” store, the love of my life challenged me as I perused a luscious display of paint cards in the home-decor section. (Understand: my eyes remain sharp even as arthritis sets in, so I am entitled to a few “don’t test me when I know what I see” comments.) Sparing you the short conversation that followed,  I concluded he couldn’t distinguish between certain colors and nuances of color.  (Sorry son number two—– a female in the family passed that gene on to you, too.)  It then became apparent I might have to make allowances for the male attendant who just couldn’t understand why I was returning the mud-colored fouton cover, when the color was very clearly not the BROWN seen online.  (This also means IKEA needs to be sure either females or males who are not color-blind are putting pictures up on their website and naming colors…..unless “Gernap” means MUD in Swedish.)

Before I say something “off-color”, let me state “I LOVE Colors!”  I’m thankful to be able to see a wide range of them, and I’m blessed to be able to distinguish between hues of the same color. ( I also know I’ll never be AMISH, like many of our neighbors, because their women aren’t allowed past the outdoor lawn and garden plant section of big box stores that sell paint and other kinds of home-décor.  In fact they send their male family members in to buy white paint in 5 gallon buckets…..the only paint color allowed in their homes.) I will stand by my perception of colors, online or in-person, and not be afraid to say so when there is a discrepancy between what’s advertised and what’s real.

I’m just about done here. 

Mail ordering for me is a thing of the past when it involves colors.  And I’ll try to be more forgiving of those who don’t perceive color and shades of dark and light as I do.  But now I need to ask for tolerance, since I’m not shy about changing colors of walls in places where I live, at least every three or four years.  (Some people consider this an excessive obsession.) And I hope, someday soon, you’ll come to visit and sit on the new “Charcoal Gray” fouton cover that doesn’t show dirt either…..but at least  knows its name and looks the part, Genarp!


Karen Weber

June 6, 2013

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