I was in a Big Box superstore the other day. I try not to go into these places too often as they confuse me. This one was bigger than my wee farmy. Much bigger. Filled with the most curious collection of useless objects. AND it had christmas music screeching and shoving me into a scurry. Christmas Carols In November make me want to Bite Someone’s Head Right Off!
I will tell you why I was in this Mammoth of a Store. You know I avoid them like the plague preferring their small familiar dusty predecessors. But I was on my travels last week, and I needed to buy a book. I cannot function unless I have a book. Words are like my air. Books are my television. My handbag has to be big enough to contain a book, a camera, a wallet and a lipstick. I read every day. I read before I go to sleep, while I am waiting in a cue, on the plane, in the bus, on the train, in the car (when I am a passenger of course), I can read and walk the dog at the same time. I can read and cook at the same time. Well, you get the picture. Now, I knew that that night I would finish my current book and I cannot sleep if I have just finished a book. I MUST start the next one first. This is just how it is. I was slightly panicked.
So I asked Third Son to take me to the book store. He told me the bad news. Both of the BIG book stores in his city had closed recently. There were no others in the town. No book stores at all. We stared silently at each other for a minute. He knew that this was not good. We would have to go to one of the big bad stores, maybe they would have books, he said hopefully.
The second Big Scary Box Store we went to did have books, they had twelve books as a matter of fact, and I bought the two I had not read. Did I also mention that I am not a discriminating reader. I read anything I can lay my hands on.
So I took my two books to the check out and began what I imagined would be a simple transaction. The girl sharply scanned the books and then brightly asked did I want to sign up for a store credit card and receive eighteen percent off my current purchase? I said to the girl, who was a cheerful blowsy wee thing with heavily made up eyes. I said,” No thank you, I only buy something if I can pay for it.” She looked at me like I was spouting Greek.
“So do you want to sign up for a credit card and receive eighteen percent off your current purchase?” she said again, more clearly this time.
” No, honey”, I told her gently “that is borrowing money. I don’t need to borrow money. I only buy something if I have the money to pay for it.”
” Oh,” she stared hard at her screen as though it would give her a prompt. Completely at a loss.
I said to her carefully “Why would I buy something I cannot afford.” Someone turned the volume up on the Christmas Carols.
The skinny lady behind me in the queue, shoved her over laden cart closer to me and started the queue shuffle. I whipped my head around to her and stilled her with one of The Looks.
“You know what I mean?” I said to the girl. She cast panicked looks around. “If I can’t afford it, why would I buy it?”
Skinny Lady began to loudly rummage in her handbag, bringing out her fat purse. Full of skinny credit cards no doubt.
“So you won’t be wanting to sign up for a store credit card and get eighteen percent off your current purchase?” the girl said hopefully. I shook my head and tried REALLY hard not to sigh.
“That will be 18.95” she squeaked and took a deep breath. “Would you like to purchase one of our store bags for 95 cents and receive a 5 cent discount every time you shop with us again?”
Her screen prompt was not helping her. She ran out of breath. Third Son wandered off towards the doors. The Christmas soundtrack paused between tracks. Suddenly I felt sorry for her. Maybe she wouldn’t spend her entire life in debt. Maybe she would resist the lure of The Card held out by a faceless myopic banker who would live off her interest for the rest of her life.
I took out a twenty and gave it to her. She gave me my change, concentrating hard on the palm of my hand. I smiled at the girl and then just for good measure I smiled slowly at the skinny lady. I jammed my new books into my handbag and turned to leave. Though I knew perfectly well that if there had been a bell on The Girls counter she would have been bashing at it in seconds desperately calling. NEXT! NEXT!
PS Above is the new rake for the hay! Well, new to us. It is looking lovely in the last of the light on a lovely Thanksgiving evening. Ni Night. Have a lovely Green Friday tomorrow.