Thursday, December 14, 2006


Ok, ok....
I've had requests to publish this holiday tale! (LOL it is funny) I think the "88 cent sweater story" may become a blog-holiday traditon (somewhat like the movie Christmas Story with it's famous line "you can't have a beebee gun - you'll shoot your eye out" :-)
This story of mine is many years old now, but I admit, it still makes me smile...
I have a funny story for you..
I have a long history of being 'hard to buy for' when it comes to gifts. I'm not fussy and it's not about price at all it's just that I have 'quirky' taste in everything from clothing to dinnerware - maybe it's the artist thing or maybe it's just me, lol.. In fact, after years and years of struggling with my husband (who loves buying surprises) and subsequent returns he finally agreed to pick out gifts for me together - and it's turned into a great tradition of lunch and 'it's all about me' shopping (LOL) for a few hours two times a year.
So anyway, the few hold outs in the family who still determinedly purchase are kind enough to enclose receipts for return allowing me to cater to my quirkiness via exchange. Works well, till last week.... :-)
Last week I happily made my way to the nearest mall (almost 40 miles from here) the item, gift receipt in hand and a bit of 'exchange funds free shopping' lol in mind... I was stoked for several reasons. First, the obvious fact is due to distance I don't just 'swing by the mall' - too far. Second, my lunatic schedule prohibits much time for shopping anyway and if I do actually steal a few hours to shop I'm by nature more interested in odd, one only kind of stores - so the mall is a rare bird trip for me.. But back to my story.....
So there I am standing in the endless 'return line' You know, one clerk who I'm fairly sure HATES her job looking over at the growing line with a deer in headlights expression... (me hoping she doesn't just abandon her post before I make it thru, lol) The line itself, is full of women who are vaguely disgruntled (who enjoys the returns credits department scenario?) There is no happy chattingering, just lots of foot shuffling and sighing.
At last I make my way to the counter. The prize ('free' shopping a la' return credits) is at nearly in my grasp! My tired (from standing in line for half an hour) feet are feeling rather happy-dance-ish...
But wait - I see alarm and or confusion in the expression of the 'deer in headlights' clerk facing me (and mind you the delay is calling the FULL attention of the standees in line as DELAY is not DESIREABLE). The line is now fixated on my transaction as they want to know WHAT the hold up is... The clerk fusses and fusses and calls the manager and then another department head (oh my gawd is the sweater stolen?! lol I think to myself!??) what could possibly cause this kind of three tier management hubbub? The powers that be and the clerk talk as in the background I hear the mob in line plotting my death if this takes much longer. Finally the clerk and assorted management come back towards the counter and the clerk (who's now been abandoned by supervisory staff) clears her throat and loudy announces as if the town crier the following:
"I'm sorry maam, but apparently your gift was purchased at sale price so I can't refund you the full price". I'm relieved - that's ok, just a bit less replacement shopping. I say 'no problem' and smile. She looks at me with great seriousness and repiles (a bit loudler still as she's stressed to the max by now) "you don't understand - your sweater was purchased on sale for ............88 cents.... and I can't even issue a refund for less than a dollar..."
There was an audible gasp from the mob at the line. The clerk is nearly in tears (poor thing). In the retail gift giving world, time stopped...... EIGHTY EIGHT CENTS you say?All eyes were on me, and for me at least (after the initial thump and annoyance of being the receipient of an 88 cent gift) it was just plain funny..
I ran various options thru my mind. It occured to me to say 'call 'The world book of records people'!
I thought of simply giving this sad little 88 cent sweater to someone in the line as I walked by them on my way out.. :-)
I thought of asking the clerk if I gave her 12 cents if she'd give me a credit for one full dollar? (but decided the humor would be lost on her and the last bit of stress would kill her...)
In the end I simply said 'thank you'for your help put the poor 88 cent wonder sweater that had stopped retail time back in it's bag and it's home here with me now...
Acutally I hate to admit it, but I feel sorry for it. And you know me, once pathos enters the picture, the item has a home for life. At least some good came from it all - I didn't shop funds free, so it was a short trip. I was able to morph the planned shopping time into meeting my husband for a rare, unplanned and very enjoyed late lunch.
I've long ago moved past being worried over 'public embarassment' (one of my friends said 'weren't you horrified all those people in the line heard you were given an 88 cent gift?") Actually no, as in the scheme of things it's just not that important - abit of a sting? maybe - but hey in the stream of life, no biggie.
In fact, pitiful sweater saved my life. The mob in line would most certainly have KILLED me for the time the whole transaction took had it not had the 'tragic 88 cent' ending it did - yep, saved by the 88 cent sweater.
You have to be amused by the irony of the entire story, really you do....
So 'sweater' has become one of those bittersweet funny little stories that comes up now and again for a laugh, and will (every time I wear it in all it's not-my-style-ness) remind me of the stolen chinese lunch with my husband that day, the deer in headlights clerk, and the fact that life is too short to fret over things that don't go the way you think they will.
Yep, oddly enough I think pathetic 88 cent sweater (who is now living in the studio with me) and I are going to become good friends....
Hope your day is a good one :-)

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