While at the beach recently, my wife and I stopped at the quintessential beach town book store. It was a cute little place and exactly what you’d expect down to the requisite cat lounging in the vicinity of the kid’s books. Thanks to the damn kids loitering my petting time was limited. Worse, I was homesick for my babies left behind home alone. (With visits from the cat sitter.)
The store had limited selection of new books, mainly best sellers, and as such wasn’t too interesting. Not too surprisingly their books were offered at full cover price. Pretty standard really for homey places trying to compete with the big boys. I like supporting little local shops so I strongly considered picking up a new copy of Sycamore Row by John Grisham in hardback for only $28.95 USD. I hadn’t heard of the book before and Grisham is a no-brainer who always delivers.
Still, three Hamiltons for a single book was a little much and besides, who the hell has time to read while on vacation? I reluctantly put the book back and decided to wait.
Later, my wife decided to check out another local book store, this one a dumpy place offering used books. Lo and behold, what did she find? Yup, a copy of Sycamore Row with a hand-written price sticker of 25 cents.
Hey, that falls into my budget.
Knowing me like she does, my wife dutifully snatched it up. But when she took it to the counter the shopkeeper realized what was going on and balked. It was time for the “that’s the wrong price” game. Little did he know what a fierce contestant he was up against.
I slipped out of my home and blended into the urban landscape. Nothing to notice here. Just another lost soul looking miserable and drifting along with the tides of refuse dotted across the city. For good measure I even added a limp which wasn’t that much of a stretch since my ankle was still smarting from being smashed on a rock during our last whitewater rafting trip. (A story that has yet to be told.)
No fedora, tattoos, Nike footwear, North Face jacket or 1890’s neckbeards for me. I was projecting identity that screamed, “Leave me the fuck alone.” It helps a lot to be ugly and look as grim as possible.
And so it was I moved silently through the city. Which is rather odd for me since I seldom leave the house. We’re the quintessential Portland family. We have less automobiles than residents in our home. My wife was gone so that meant I had to make other arrangements.
Arriving at the bus stop I leaned against the sign. I must have just missed it since it took many spawns to arrive. I climbed aboard and asked the driver, “Is it okay if I don’t have exact change?” He said it was so I stuck in three one dollar bills for the $2.50 fare. My transfer printed and I couldn’t help but notice no change was offered. So that’s how that shit works. I paused for a reflective moment of gratitude that I hadn’t tried a one hundred dollar bill.
Once upon a time I was in a serious quandary. I wanted some cheap, plastic, materialistic consumer shit made in China and I wanted it now. What to do, what to do?
As I saw it, there were two choices.
I could haul my fat ass up and out of my chair, somehow make it to the car, drive to a big-box store, somehow make it inside and navigate the maze to (hopefully) the right section where the object of my desire might be found. All the while being blasted by a tasty mix of songs scientifically designed to make me spend more money. (The mix is a rotation of two songs. Happy, by Pharrell Williams and anything by Mumford & Sons.)
I say “might” because I’ve tried this in the past and it didn’t quite work out. Ever go to the store to buy one specific thing? After expending incredible effort (see previous paragraph) you learn it isn’t even there. Out of stock. I do not believe there is a worse feeling in the entire universe.
And that other choice I mentioned earlier? Amazon. Duh.
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To the grocery store!
They got edible cactus in a jar
Mixes and accessories for my bar
Breakfast cereal that comes in a box
Bagels, cream cheese and even the lox
Fruits thoughtfully sealed inside of wax
Winged feminine products sold in packs
Only forty-two varieties of Wheat Thins
Toilet paper with gels squirted in
Everything you ever needed and more
You’ll find it all at the grocery store!
A wise woman once said, “I learned a hard lesson this day. … [N]ever and I repeat NEVER EVER take Tom shopping again!!!” This person was my wife of two years ago. Not my wife of today. Apparently the two have never met.
Our story begins and ends in a grocery store…
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“This post doesn’t have a price tag? It must be free, right? Ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
In response, the Abyssian customer service associate doesn’t lose his shit and calmly points at the the wall. “Clearly you did not see our sign.” It reads:
“The next customer to crack the ‘it must be free’ joke on an unmarked item will be stabbed in the eye. Thank you for shopping Abyss Inc.”
–Our humorous sign (patent pending)
And no, this post is not free. By reading this far, per our implied EULA buried on some other page you’ve never visited, you already owe me $2.99. I’d immediately quit reading if I were you.
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