Sharpen Your Pencil! | Trivial Tropes

A lighthearted look at the words and phrases customers and salespeople use without thought.

Written word can so easily lack the nuance conveyed by the pace and cadence of speech. Comedic timing depends heavily on this distinction and so whether one finds The Ruggist humorous or just plain laughable on occasion, others would say I have a decent sense of that timing. Irregardless – Which many argue is not a ‘real’ word rather a combination or regardless and irrespective, and following English convention would mean ‘without regardless’, a double negative so actually meaning ‘with regard’. More on this later! – of what you think, any self-respecting Rug Dealer, Ruggy (or Ruggie), Rug Salesman, Ruggist – but (k)not The Ruggist, Porter, Floor Technician, Expeditor, Rug Saleswoman, Rug Salesperson (Why must English remove gender specific nouns?), National Sales Director, Owner, Rug Historian, Creative Director, plain ol’ Person-in-charge, ad nauseam, worth their weight in a pile of wool dust has had to endure countless musings of supposedly clever customers, now known as CeCe, (and coworkers) all of which have been uttered so widely and geographically disparate that we must assume CeCe (singular in case, plural in meaning) are actually a special sub-species of human possessing a collective consciousness of indecision. Yes that is one sentence.

Readers, be they Rug Dealer, Ruggy (or Ruggie), Rug Salesman, Ruggist – but (k)not The Ruggist, Porter, Floor Technician, Expeditor, Rug Saleswoman, Rug Salesperson (Why must English remove gender specific nouns?), National Sales Director, Owner, Rug Historian, Creative Director, plain ol’ Person-in-charge, or CeCe or just a hapless soul who googled the term ‘peanut butter recall’ are invited to chime in with any of their unlisted favourites by adding them as comment below. Without further ado, The Ruggist presents for your review a collection of favourite musings: Things customers say!

‘You’ll need to sharpen your pencil on that price.’

This is for my friend Ned Baker of Tamarian, who at one time claimed this to be his favourite line. First. Who still uses pencils? Second. The only difference a sharp pencil would make is in legibility. Third. Just say you want a better price. Geeze! Respond with: ‘We use pens.’

‘What’s your best price?’

Perhaps the most myopic, asinine, and ignorant thing a CeCe can say, as it betrays a complete lack of understanding of business on the part of the speaker. Best price? With a high degree of certainty, the ‘best price’ a business could have would be far more than what they are asking for or it is the sweet spot between profile and volume. In either case, the price is not the ‘best’ for the consumer. Instead, just ask for a discount but don’t say… .

‘Do you offer a personal use discount?’
‘I’m going to need an entire house of rugs so can I have a discount?’

These two phrases are almost always said upon the very first encounter with a customer. The former by designers, the latter by any CeCe, and both are an attempt to dangle a carrot, which may or may not exist. A smart sales person looking to close the deal might suggest a counter carrot which offers the CeCe a retroactive discount once a certain purchasing threshold has been met.

(K)not to be pedantic but which of these berries - let alone other unshown variants - represent the colour berry? | Image via BerlinPhotograph.
(K)not to be pedantic but which of these berries – let alone other unshown variants – represent the colour berry? | Image via BerlinPhotograph.

‘I’m looking for something berry coloured.’

Perhaps the favourite of this author as options for being snarky and pedantic are virtually unlimited. To be completely fair, one is likely safe to assume the CeCe who says this is looking for something reddish, but everyone knows what happens when one assumes… . To which berry shall the colour of the rug be matched?

‘I bet you don’t have to go to the gym.’

For anyone who has ever flipped piles or stacks of rugs for a CeCe, and wanted to utter back ‘Clearly you don’t go to the gym either!’

‘I’ll know it when I see it.’

See what? You don’t even know what size you want.

‘I need to go home and measure.’

Measure what? I thought you’d know it when you saw it.

‘I’m looking for a living room rug.’

Does anyone know how to tell the difference between a living room and dining room rug?

The three previous lines are commonplace during the expositionary phase of a sales interaction as the sales person is attempting to extract pertinent information from a CeCe. They are a trifecta indicating a near complete lack of serious commitment to purchasing a rug. If prefaced by: ‘I’ve been looking everywhere (or for XX years) and cannot find what I am looking for!’ then as a sales person just give up, because… .

‘What do you mean it will take four to six months to make this (completely custom coloured, designed, and sized) rug for me?

In this day and age (2018) it is possible for a CeCe to have precisely what they want, but spoiled Western consumers just don’t have the patience.

‘Will this fade in the sun?’

Rugs should apparently, over every other home furnishing, be somehow impervious to the sun.

‘Do you have any of those Tibetan (pronounced: TIE BET TAN) rugs?’
‘Do you have any of those Moroccan (pronounced: MORE AWE KAN) rugs?’
‘Do you have any Persian (pronounced: PARISIAN) rugs?’

Thank you dumbed down design magazines for ‘educating’ consumers.

‘I’m allergic to Wool.’

Oddly no-one ever seems to notice they are in a showroom full of this potentially fatal allergen until they are told the rugs are made of wool.

‘Do you have something that looks like this, but is less expensive?’

Does one go to a Mercedes dealership and ask for a Fiat that looks the same? No, and there is a reason for it.


The first part of this article focused on CeCe, that is Clever Customers, and now while we anxiously await reading a few delightful tidbits of absurdity from coworkers, that is sales people, consider the ramblings regarding irregardless as intermission during the flow of this post: Wikipedia (the source for all internet knowledge, true or otherwise) has this to say about irregardless, and therefore: USE THE CORRECT WORD. Ever since I was introduced to a Webster’s Dictionary of Synonyms by the most wonderful lady (and she is a lady) Mary Ann Barrett of the now defunct Classic Oriental Rugs of Cleveland, Ohio, I’ve been striving to use the correct word in my writing and speech. Sometimes I fail, but that leads to improvement, no? Anyway, regardless of these thoughts, or irrespective of these thoughts, the article must go on!


Now to be equitable, the pervasive CeCe is not alone in ability to say stupid things. Carpet and rugs dealers, the aforementioned coworkers, have and are known to say things which can boggle the mind andor cause a great laugh. Sometimes said aloud, other times expressed as inner monolog, these are a few of the musings: Things rug and carpet dealers say!

‘I don’t have an 8×10, can you use a 9×12?’ or
‘I don’t have that rug in an 8×10 but I have something very similar… .’

This is for… well you know who you are.

‘I was born at night, but not last night’

For my former co-worker Andrew (Drew) Carlson, from whom I learned a lot. I still love this line. All the best to him where ever life has taken him.

‘It’s the latest trend in Europe.’

Anecdotal story time! Once while reviewing rugs and carpets with a European brand I commented that a particular design seemed ‘More suited for the European market.’ to which the designer retorted ‘Oh that is funny, we tell clients the design is more American.’ Be cautious of foreign and unknown trends which may or may not exist, it could just be that the rug is not hitting the mark.

‘Oh, you know how it is.’

No, no I don’t. That is why I asked.

‘A good quality rug or carpet will last a lifetime with proper care and cleaning.’

Has anyone ever further qualified what ‘proper care and cleaning’ is?

‘[COUNTRY DEMONYM] rugs are the best quality!’

Yeah, all countries produce a variety of qualities and it is foolish to compare apples to pears let alone oranges.

Presuming readers add their own musings to this list, we will find that all of us, whether we are a Rug Dealer, Ruggy (or Ruggie), Rug Salesman, Ruggist – but (k)not The Ruggist, Porter, Floor Technician, Expeditor, Rug Saleswoman, Rug Salesperson (Why must English remove gender specific nouns?), National Sales Director, Owner, Rug Historian, Creative Director, plain ol’ Person-in-charge or anything your heart can imagine, are in this together and share the same problems and joys. When I worked in a showroom I thought I knew it all, then I went to work for an importer, then I commercially failed at making my own rugs, then I decided to fancy myself a writer, commentator, and expert on rugs and carpets and and saw the other side of the coin. I still don’t know it all, but I now know that everyone has their own agenda driven by viewpoints, similar, dissimilar, or otherwise, and by fitting those often competing agendas together we can accomplish great things.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a edited and reworked version of one which originally appeared on The Ruggist prior to 2014. It has been presented again to provide backstory and insight into the mind of The Ruggist.]