Chapter 1


i recently discovered my husband Brians unique way of demonstrating disatisfaction with bad customer service in stores: he haphazardly moves things. a few loose green beans end up in the bulk mushroom bin. a coupla oranges roll a mysterious few inches from the pile. at the grocery store if he sights mold on something—say he sees a slightly aging lime, aging in brown splotches. if he is able to eke out some bit of white mold, that is to say, leeching or seeping through the etches that make up the outline of the brown splotches—

“EEEW!” he will exclaim, to nobody, and therefore everyone, “im ALWAYS finding moldy things here!”

Brian does this on certain days at a certain grocery store when he chances to remember the whole fucked-up-excuse-for-a-reason they fired me.

meanwhile, today he and i went to Macys to buy my brother a birthday present. my brother lives in NYC. in ‘Dumbo’ they call it, meaning Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. while his condo is smashing and he does well as vice principal, i have the impression he does not buy himself that many clothes. Brian and i found two shirts to give my brother.

plus, we found this lone yellow shirt on the clearance rack, perfect for Brian. it had a big grizzly bear sketch on the front of it. Brian loves all things bear. not to mention, he has amassed many a yellow tee over the years. he went to check out. i remained on the sales floor for a bit. when i finally wandered over to the register, i heard the sales associate telling Brian there was ‘something wrong’ with his Macys card.

Brian said, “i paid the balance on time, weeks ago. what does it say?”

“does it show a balance?”

“it says you owe two dollars.”

“yeah, thats the two dollars they charge you with if you dont use your card by the end of the month! this is a new month.”

true, it was July 4th.

“the card is no good.”

“forget it, i will use cash. this is ridiculous.”

“ok,” said the associate.

the associate wore a nametag, said ‘Percey’.

Percey scanned the bear shirt.

it rang up at full price.

the bear shirt had a big red sticker on its tag which read ‘50% off merchandise.’ it was on a rack marked ‘60% off the lowest marked price.’ it was the only shirt like it in the place. all bells sounded: it was on sale, no one could not know as much.

Brian pointed to the big red sticker.

“dude, do you see this?”

Percey replied he didnt know ‘what kind of tag’ that was.

“so do you want the shirt?”


Brian was pissed.

“just these, then, please, Percey,” i piped up, “and a gift receipt, please.”

Brian gave Percey the cash but the guy forgot to make the gift receipt.

“theres no gift receipt! what are you doing?” Brian asked.

“i didnt know you wanted one,” shrugged Percey.

“i told you in the first place,” Brian calmly stated.

i was thinking, and i just said it too, buddy, but held my lip.

“i thot that was for the bear shirt,” the associate said.

you have to realize the whole time i had been standing with all of my might on one leg, leaning on crutches. i was starting to get mad, when came the clinch that breaks the clinches-mothers-back:

Percey put just one shirt in the bag, and handed it over.

“oh, my god!”

“we wanted the two shirts!”

“i didnt see the second shirt,” the sales associate looked down where the first shirt had been, and there lay the second shirt, looking prone.

i had Percy ring up the second shirt, and we left, fast as possible.

at least i did. i made it almost to the jeans when i noticed Brian pull a sweater slightly off its kilt on the rack. he moved the top three pairs of pants that sat on one of several neat piles of folded corduroys just a few inches to the left.


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