I walked into the store and told myself I wouldn’t buy anything this time. “I’m just looking,” I informed the greeter. “That’s okay,” she replied, handing me a bright blue plastic basket with metal handles, “you’ll find it’s easier to look with this.”
Stupid girl. Ten minutes later, I was setting the now-full basket back by the door and swapping it out for a cart.
I glanced down at the items I’d selected so far: High Standards, Strong Work Ethic, Ability to Argue. Who wouldn’t want the Ability To Argue?
The next aisle over produced even more treasures: Loyalty, Intelligence, Practicality. I had to move Good Conversationalist over in the cart to squeeze in Beauty. There was still enough room for Organized, right by Hates To Be Late.
After about half an hour of methodically going up and down every pristine row in the store, I made my way to the check-out lane. The uniformed man called out, “Next, please!” I started to place Perfectionism on the conveyor belt but he stopped me.
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” he asked.
I was mildly irritated. I’d never laid eyes on this guy, yet he was telling me what to buy?
“Excuse me?” I said, barely masking my annoyance.
“Based on the items you’re purchasing today,” (he was looking right at Pessimism and Attention To Detail when he said it), “I think Judgmental would be a good selection for you.”
Geesh, he was right.
“Of course! What was I thinking? Which aisle is it on? I don’t remember seeing it,” I started to get out of line and turn back.
“We have some right there, behind you. See? Above the Discerning.”
That was smart marketing. Judgmental was definitely an impulse buy. I picked it up and handed it to the checker. Then I grabbed a box of Discerning as well. You never know when it might come in handy.
“Are you part of our bonus rewards program?” he asked, “You’ll save 10% today.”
“No, no thank you,” I smiled.
He wrote down my total on a slip of paper, rather than announcing out loud it for all the other shoppers to hear. I liked this special courtesy about Virgopolous, and, truth be told, it was a major reason why I shopped here. I handed him my credit card and waited for him to swipe it through.
“Ack, is it too late to add Patience?” I asked.
“Sorry, ma’am, we’ve never sold Patience here,” he shrugged.
I was skeptical. “Are you sure? I think I’ve seen it here before, somewhere toward the back of the store? Are you sure you’re not just out of Patience?”
“I know my stock. No. No Patience,” he said firmly.
“Are you sure?”
“I said no.”
“Could you have someone check?”
“Won’t do any good.”
“I have small kids! I need Patience!”
He stopped bagging my items and looked me in the eye. “I agree, Patience is a great product, especially for parents. Maybe it’s something we’ll carry in the future, but to be perfectly honest, it’s way too expensive for us to get, even wholesale.”
I wanted to prove I was right. I wanted to have a newspaper ad tucked in my purse that confirmed Patience On Sale, This Week Only at Virgopolous, to show him. I wanted to demand to speak to the manager or owner or buyer or anyone, but there was a long line of customers behind me.
“Okay,” I sighed.
“Sorry,” he said, with a tone that said he wasn’t really.
I took my receipt and my twelve bags and walked out to my car. As I was loading the things into the trunk, Must Have The Last Word rolled out.
Damn it. Where were you five minutes ago?
(“Magnificient Otherworldly Virgopolous”)
*this one's for Paul