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Shell Shocked: Beware the magic carpet

By Staff | Nov 5, 2014

We all get conned by super slick salesmen now and then. But I was conned into buying a magic carpet. And I’m not too proud of my gullibility.

It all started when I happened to stop in at a rug-and-carpet shop in Fort Myers recently. I needed a small rug for the entrance area to my house. I hadn’t been to this carpet store before during my travels into Fort Myers but it now has a special meaning for me.

I was thinking Persian rug for elegance and compliments from guests. It was a huge store with racks and racks of rugs and carpets. There were a number of shoppers there that day and salesmen seemed to be in demand. I thought I’d walk around and get a feel for the inventory. The carpets and rugs ranged in style from American to Persian to Chinese. They were in every color and fabric imaginable and I was like a kid in a China shop.

I then heard a voice next to me: “Lots to choose from, I would say.”

I turned and there was a salesman standing by my side. He had a flower in his lapel and had a name tag on his suit that said: “Amal Jamal, senior sales representative.”

He dressed elegantly and exuded confidence.

“Tell me what you’re looking for and I believe I can help you,” he said.

I told him that I was looking for a small but elegant Persian carpet that I could place just inside the front door to my house. I told him that I wanted my guests to see this special carpet when they opened my front door and be in awe of it. I also told him I didn’t know much about purchasing carpets and needed his professional help.

He smiled widely. “I’m just your man. Glad to help. You look like the kind of person who really wants to make an impression. If you take my advice today, I will see to it that you will make lasting impressions on all your visitors from this day forward.”

Wow, I thought. That’s a pretty bold statement. A “lasting impression,” eh? He seemed to read my mind.

“Please come with me. I am going to show you a carpet that you won’t believe.”

And he ushered me to an out-of-the-way cove where no one else seemed to be shopping at the moment. He led me to a pile of smaller sized carpets and asked me to pull the very top carpet off and place it on the floor.

He said: “I know you’re going to find this very hard to believe, but if you really want to make a lasting impression on your house guests, you really need to consider this particular carpet. It will change your life forever.”

I was taken aback. I didn’t think he needed to raise the hype barometer. He already had me convinced that he could help me choose the right carpet.

I said: “You don’t need to give me a super sales job. I plan to leave this store with a carpet under any circumstances.”

He gave me an apologetic look.

“No, you don’t understand. It’s not hype. Nor am I trying to con you. There’s no way I can demonstrate the quality of this carpet without you stepping on it. Then you can think anything you want. But I ask you to get on your knees once you’re on this carpet.”

So I stepped on the carpet and sank to my knees. The moment I did so, it began to rise off the floor. The carpet rose about four feet off the floor with me on it trying to keep my balance and sanity. It then settled back onto the floor.

“How did you do that?” I stammered. “Is there a remote-control engine attached somewhere?”

The salesman said: “I know you can’t believe what just happened. But there’s no engine, no motor, no drone apparatus. This carpet is a genuine magic carpet. It is one of a number we have in stock. All of them are from Persia and we sell them to special customers like you.”

I was speechless.

He said: “Take it home with you and try it out on your guests. You won’t have to pay for it until you are convinced that this carpet can repeat what just happened to you.”

I felt I had nothing to lose, as skeptical as I was that this carpet could get off the floor again. I took it home and placed it just inside the front door. Just as I did so my handyman entered the front door. He stepped on the carpet and immediately the carpet rose with him on it and flew around the house.

The handyman jumped off the carpet; “Very funny. Get yourself a new handyman” and ran out.

The same thing happened with the pizza delivery guy later that day. In about a week I had alienated all my friends, and my wife decided to leave the house lest she fell off the carpet and break her neck.

I decided to return the carpet. I drove to Fort Myers and parked in the mall where I first found the carpet store. But instead of a carpet store, there was a fastfood taco joint. I entered the store and asked one of the staff what happened to the carpet store.

She told me that the police had raided the carpet store and had marked it as a crime scene. She said she didn’t know why but rumor had it that the store was selling stolen merchandise.

I returned home with the carpet still in hand. I left it on the patio outside my bedroom window. Every morning when I awakened, I could see the carpet flying around outside and then settle back to the floor. One day I thought I’d weigh it down and put a heavy potted plant on it. It didn’t matter. The potted plant flew around the house on top of the carpet.

I was mystified. I didn’t know what to do. And then one morning they came for it. The visit wasn’t entirely a surprise. I was half expecting it. They took the carpet, told me to keep my mouth shut and drove off in a government SUV.

Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.