We leave tomorrow! I shall not be posting again, perhaps for a very long time. I would like to sing for you now a love song. I know you share this love. I pray that you will never let it die. Edelweiss, Edelweiss . . .
Hold it! Hold it! Are you trying to trick me? Where's the Princess Bride? Is this a Sound of Music post?!
Ha ha ha. Of course not. I'm just feeling silly.
This whole week has been jam-packed with preparations for South Africa and wrapping up cookie sales. On Thursday my mother-in-law arrived to stay with the kids while we are gone. That morning, before heading to the airport, I was figuring out how to pack more stuff than I have suitcase space for. A friend I met through blogging who lives in South Africa had asked me months ago if she could order a couple of idea books from Amazon, have them sent to my house and I could bring them with me to save her the enormous shipping charges. The package arrived in January but I never opened it. I had planned to stick it in a suitcase, so there was no need to open it. However, on Thursday I was feeling the pinch of space and thought I might be able to put the books in an outside pocket if I opened the package.
I opened the package.
She had ordered Donna Downey's three books from the Yes, It's a Scrapbook! series. Nice! Except one was missing. I mean, there were three books in the package, but one was a duplicate. I checked the packing slip and she had clearly ordered three separate titles, so it was obviously a mistake. But . . . what was I to do now?! It was past the date to make an exchange, and even if I did, the replacement wouldn't arrive in time. I fretted.. I frowned. I threw myself an "I don't have time for this!" pity party.
Then I pulled myself up, dusted myself off, and started all over again. Think. Think. Think. What would The Man in Black do?
Ah! I've got it! I'll call around town, find a store that has the book I need, and see if they'll exchange it for me. (Logic, so good at the logic!)
I was getting discouraged by the time I called the third store:
"Yes, I was wondering if you have Donna Downey's Yes, It's a Scrapbook! series of books?"
"We do, but I believe we're sold out of two of the titles. Let me check." time passes. "We've only got Photo Decor but we are planning on re-ordering the other two, so I can call you when . . . "
"THAT'S THE ONE I NEED!" I cut her off quite rudely, but I was excited, that's why! "Look, I've got an extra Decorative Journals - can I exchange it for Photo Decor? I don't have a receipt, but it would be an even exchange, and it sounds like you need the journal book anyway."
"Let me check with a manager . . . yes, that's fine. We'll exchange it for you."
"Great! I'll be right in!"
So off I trotted, book in hand, feeling right proud of myself. I walked into the store and the ensuing conversation went like this:
"Yes, I just called. I'm not sure who I spoke to, but I got permission to exchange this book for another title from the same series."
"Oh. Sure. Let me show you where those are" said Gollum. Now I call her Gollum (or let's feminize it to Gollumina) only because when she saw the book in my hand her eyes bugged out, her mouth started salivating, she was licking her lips feverishly and rubbing her hands together. Plus she slouched. (OK, not that last part)
"So is that the book you're wanting to exchange?!" she asked, pointing to the book in my hands. You could almost hear her mutter "Precious" under her breath.
"Yes," I replied. "I have two of them, so I need to exchange it."
"You have TWO of these?!" She was delirious at this point.
"Yes . . " I repeated, thoroughly puzzled.
"Well, uh, look," eyes darting back and forth "That's the only one I don't have yet. I'll buy it off of you." Pssst, hey lady - look here under my trench coat. (Again, not that last part - that was for effect)
"Oh," I said, finally understanding her. "You don't have to buy it from me - I'm exchanging it. In about 5 minutes you can buy it from the store and use your employee discount." See how nice I am?
"But then I'll have to get a manager for the exchange," she said "It's easier if I just buy it from you. How much did you pay?" And then, right there, she pulled a little wallet out of her employee apron. Talk about being prepared!
"Well I want to exchange it for Photo Decor - how much is that one?" I asked. She looked.
"It's $15. I have that right here." And she proceeded to count out $15 from her little wallet, apologizing for using 5's and 1's.
"It doesn't matter," I said, "I'm just going to give it right back to you - I want the Photo Decor book"
"OK," she said, snatching her just-purchased Decorative Journals book and sliding it into her voluminous wallet-holding apron pocket. I halfway expected her to pull a lamp out of there ala Mary Poppins! "I can help you with that at the register."
So off we went to the register, her happily humming and me holding a fistful of cash and the Photo Decor book. She rang it up and said:
"That will be $16.06, please."
I handed her the $15 that was in my hand and then paused for a second. Surely she was going to retrieve the little wallet from the apron pocket to pay the sales tax, right?
She just looked at me with that half-vacant cashier-smile. The one that conveys friendliness and disinterest at the same time. Kind of like the flight attendant in Meet the Parents who won't let Ben Stiller board the plane until his seating area is called even though he was the only one waiting. Gollumina was probably mentally planning her grocery list, wondering if she'd fed the cat, or deciding if I was from another country (or Oregon) which would explain why I didn't seem to understand the concept of sales tax. And of course, being me, I did what I would naturally do when faced with an uncomfortable situation.
I pulled out my wallet, fished out $1.06, and gave it to her.
She took the money, bagged the book, handed me a receipt, and cheerfully said "Well that worked out well, didn't it? Except that you had to pay tax."
Now THAT was the last straw! I found my backbone, finally!
"Look," I said, "I'm not sure why you didn't want to involve the manager, unless maybe she's also hoping to buy that book, but if you'd done the exchange as I asked, it would have been an even exchange. Now I've paid tax twice and you haven't paid any. This may have worked out well for *you*, but it certainly didn't work out well for *me*!"
Well that's what I should have said, I mean. What I actually said was . . .
"Oh that's OK. I'm just glad to get the book!" and then slunk out of the store.
Why? Because I'm a door mat, that's why. I have an unnatural fear of cashiers, waiters, stylists, housekeepers, etc. I'm made of an extremely rare alloy called "Afraidium" (ala Fender from Robots) I'm not sure why that is. I have issues with being "served" I guess. Complaining causes me angst.
I'm pretty sure that if I were Caption von Trapp, faced with orders to accept my new commission in the German military, that I would be "heiling" and goose stepping my way to Berlin right about now, probably sending a fruit basket to Herr Zeller so he didn't find me ungrateful.
And if I were Inigo Montoya I would go up to the six-fingered man and say "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. How nice to see you again. How have you been? Murdered any more sword makers lately? You're looking fabulous, by the way!"
And yes, of course the smartest way to make that exchange would have been for Gollumina to buy the Photo Decor book (with her discount) and then trade it to me. But I didn't think it through. I was too busy being conned.
And thanking her for it.
So I'm off! If I can blog from the trip I will, but I'm not sure, so, just in case, so long, farewell, aur wiedersehen, good bye!
TPBQOTD (Nothing gave Buttercup as much pleasure as ordering Westley around)