Eternal search for best deal in town a burden

THE RILKOFF FILES

MATT RILKOFF
Last updated 10:41 06/10/2012

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When I swing my legs out of bed this morning the feet on the end will touch down on carpet.

It will be new, wall to wall, 100 per cent wool, warranted, stain guarded, striped carpet. Carpet made right here in New Zealand with all natural fibres from all natural sheep. More importantly, it will be carpet no-one has died on, which will make a nice change.

My carpet ghost has been with me since May 2009, when I swapped a stylish riverside cottage rental for an ugly mortgage and a state house.

The details are hazy but somewhere in that changeover a new neighbour happened to mention how my house ended up on the market. The words "he wasn't found for two days" stuck with me, and from the oddly numerous plug-in air fresheners that had dotted the home when I bought it, something else had stuck too.

The particular piece of carpet I suspected needed the most freshening remained just a few days on the floor but the memory and the knowledge of what the carpet had been through could not so easily be expunged.

And so, each night for the past three and a half years, my bedtime routine has consisted of me closing the curtains across the ranch-slider and thinking as I pull them together "a man died here", followed by a quick bout of wondering what two days of February sun will do to a body.

I'm expecting the new carpet to put an end to that. Or at least dull the edges of the picture I have imagined and renew the house in a way simply ripping up the old carpet and painting the walls can't.

New carpet really is the finishing touch and getting it has been surprisingly easy this time around.

Last year, during my first foray into the murky world of synthetic wool blend berber tufts, I was overwhelmed by choice. Then, when I did make a selection, quotes could only be done at ridiculously inconvenient times and at a couple of places it seemed like I was just being an annoyance and that no- one would ever want to bother with my three rooms' worth.

It was so bad, so disheartening, I spent one whole night on the internet checking out the cost effectiveness of covering the floors in rugs. I had given up on carpet.

Then, two weeks ago and quite unexpectedly, I found myself near a carpet shop. I walked through the door, had a quick look around, borrowed three swatches, booked a quote, accepted the quote, arranged a time and yesterday morning they came and laid it down.

The whole process has taken just a matter of days and could have taken less than that if I had actually made a dither-free decision. To many this may sound like the normal process one follows to accrue something, but for me this is remission from a disease that's plagued me since I was five years old and got $1 for learning to ride my bike.

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There are no physical symptoms to this illness, just a nagging sense that no matter what you have bought you have somehow paid too much and people are laughing at you.

The worst part of the illness is it prevents me from enjoying spending money, even though I devote more than 40 hours a week to accruing it.

It means when I do have to spend it I must run around town comparing prices of everything to make sure I have got the best deal. This is despite knowing with a savant-like clarity, there are too many variables in any purchase for there ever to be such a thing as the best deal.

Though I cannot be sure, I suspect my susceptibility to this disease comes from an awful confluence of heritage where Scottish, English and Russian bloodstock combine to form a new monster. Though there are many aspects of this combination that leave one well equipped to deal with the world there are certain things that count against you.

There is the Scottish sense of resentment your place in the world has been unjustly stolen and everyone is out to continue to take from you. There is the English guilt that your place in the world is on the backs of everyone else and you must now accept retribution in whatever form it comes and then there is the Russian factor.

For those who don't know, Russians are at their most content when the bank forecloses on their house, their spouse dies in a fiery train crash and they have just lost their job through the sinister machinations of Ivan, their ever- lurking nemesis.

They prefer gross hardship and suffering and know that life is generally out to get them, which oddly enough, doesn't prevent them from complaining bitterly when it does.

I can only guess I avoided the symptoms of my disease this time by deciding to forget all that genetic noise and take the carpet deal on plain old-fashioned trust. It's quite effortless and feels better than I would have ever hoped. For both the soul and my feet.

- Taranaki Daily News

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