Canadian Tirade

Posted on December 14, 2017 under Storytelling with 5 comments

Joyeux Noel

Every year, I make a solemn oath at the end of Christmas season. I promise myself that I will never again set foot inside a retail store in the month of December. And every year, I forget my oath when I am asked to do a few little chores

During a holiday season a few years ago, we were heading out to Montreal to spend a few days with our granddaughter prior to Christmas. Since we would not be returning home until Christmas Eve, all the shopping and last minute details had to be done in advance. In an effort to get everything done, I “made  a list and checked it twice”. As fate should have it there were issues with our car. We had recently downsized and now my wife and I shared one vehicle. Hers! My car, fully loaded, with A/C for the hot summer months and heated seats to keep my bum warm in the winter was eschewed for her “ no frills” variety.  A visiting family member borrowed our car and one thing led to another and before you knew it, I was behind schedule. Well behind schedule.

The delivery of Christmas gifts to family and friends was immediately scrapped. Santa doesn’t show up until the night of the 24th. and neither would we. My trip to the grocery store was uneventful. And oddly enough, the liquor store, conveniently located beside the grocery store, wasn’t terribly busy. I quickly made up lost time and now, with my game face on, I entered my last store on the list. My task was quite simple. Exchange one item of merchandise and buy a meat thermometer for the turkey. Upon entering the store it appeared that everybody in North Eastern Nova Scotia had descended upon the store at exactly 1:30, like a flash mob.

I took a couple of deep breaths and with GPS like efficiency found the aisle that houses the little pads that go on the bottom of kitchen chairs to prevent scratching. The pads I was holding were the wrong size – 1/8 “ too long. All I had to do was find the right size, grab the meat thermometer and head for home. Of course, the shopping gods had seen me coming. They were the only ones who saw me as the clerks were off playing hide and go seek. The store had every size of pad in both vinyl and plastic except the size I was looking for. Oh well, I’ll just get a refund, I thought.

We don’t have turkey that often but locating the meat thermometer, in one of the all- purpose drawers at home, is like trying to find a matching sock. It never seems to be where it should be. I spun on my heels and headed for the checkout. I had a small bag with the returned merchandise and a meat thermometer. In front of me were four lines with about ten people in each. Everyone seemed to have decided to purchase every single present in this one store as they staggered under enormous loads of product.

Oh, Lord, please deliver me! Eenie, meenie, minie, mo. I chose checkout three. After what felt like an eternity, I finally arrived in front of the cashier. I placed the return items on the counter with my sales slip, and the meat thermometer. “I am terribly sorry sir, but I don’t do exchanges at this checkout”. I wanted to reach out and throttle her but I didn’t think that this represented the true spirit of Christmas.

I turned my attention to aisle four, the exchange aisle and silently weep. It was by far the longest line – maybe the longest line in the history of the store. And I’m at the back of it. I’m snorting like a horse and pawing at the ground by the time I reach the checkout. Only one person left in front of me – the customer from hell. He was not nasty and miserable which would have suited me just fine right about now. No, this poor soul was much more aggravating. He was, um, confused.

When he made his exchange along with some new purchases, there was a balance owing. No great mystery there. But alas, he didn’t know which of his 175 credit and debit cards were active. The clerk patiently swiped them one at a time until mercifully, one of them worked. And then, in one of the most sadistic acts I have ever witnessed, the clerk had the unmitigated gall to ask Mr. Dazed and Confused if he would like to add to his impressive collection and apply for a store rewards card. I had never committed an act of violence but twenty minutes of trying to exchange chair pads and buy a goddam meat thermometer had left me on the verge of hair Kari.

When I finally laid eyes on the clerk, I was certain she must have thought that I was a junkie who missed the methadone clinic. My eyes were glazed over.  My transaction should have been simple but I threw her a wicked curve. I had in my possession a $10. Gift card. There ensued a considerable song and dance about whether or not she could do a refund, a purchase and execute the gift card simultaneously.

I was nearly apoplectic as I turned my gaze to the meat thermometer. I was fully prepared to impale myself with the pointed end and end it all but sadly, the thermometer was buried in a “seniors friendly”, impossible to open plastic tomb.

At that moment, I clearly understood what drove normally honest people to steal. Or shop online.

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