I lasted for about an hour of the Grammys last night, long enough to see Madonna (who looks AMAZING, I have to say) and Mariah and a few other people. Then, this morning, I did the patented Tivo-three-arrow-fast-forward to see if I missed anything important. If you feel that you did–or just want a full-on recap—check out Ryan’s annual running commentary, which is always at least as entertaining as the show itself, if not more so.
In other news, yesterday I went to the mall to buy a new suitcase. I have a suitcase that I love, that I’ve had forever, but all the zippers have broken off, so now to pull it shut I have to use a complimentary Honda keychain I got from the dealership when I got my car. Not exactly classy, but it does work fine. During my last booktour, though, I had a suitcase give out on me mid-trip, which meant an emergency trip to the mall, then unpacking and repacking everything. I don’t need that kind of stress. So off I went to a local department store—let’s call it Billecht’s— to look.
Here’s the thing about Billecht’s to me. They’re a big department store, and they always have huge sales going on. But there’s just something off at the same time, like the minute you walk in you enter some kind of retail black hole. First, there never seems to be anyone working anywhere NEAR where I’m shopping. And second, when I do track someone down, there’s always some sort of snafu involving pricing, or receipts. I figure you can approach this one of two ways. It’s either annoying, or entertaining and unexpected, like a carnival ride. That’s the way I choose to look at it.
So I’m checking out the suitcases, and I find the one I want. There’s a sign on the display that says it’s on sale for fifty percent off, marked down from $400.00 to $199.99. (Note: I believe in paying for quality when it comes to some things: shoes, electronics and suitcases. I’ll go on the cheap, but not when it means risking all my stuff spilling out in baggage claim.) But there’s not price tag on it (of course) so I drag it over to the price scanner a few feet away, where it rings up for $400.00. I drag over a couple of others I’m considering which are also supposed to be on sale: none of them ring up with the sale price. Let the fun begin.
So I pick the one I really want and wheel it around the store until I find a salesperson. She rings it up: $400.00. I say, “It’s supposed to be on sale.” She gives me a look. “For how much?” I tell her fifty percent off. She rings it up again, but nothing has changed in the last thirty seconds: it’s still four hundred bucks. At this point, another employee, a guy who looks young enough to make me wonder why he’s not at school but instead in housewares, ambles up as the woman tries to scan the suitcase another way. He looks at me and says, “You gonna pay four hundred bucks for that?” I told him no. (Gotta love that Billecht’s sales pitch!) But I would pay two hundred, it if it indeed on sale. He looks at it again, not so sure. And maybe he’s right. Maybe, this is a sign. Meanwhile, the woman employee is trying to call someone to confirm that the suitcase is on sale, but everyone’s phone is busy. No one seems inclined to actually walk over to check the display. Finally, after making a few more attempts at reaching someone, the woman sighs and says, “How much was it on sale for?” I tell her $199.99. And she types it in the register, rings it up, and I have my suitcase.
I have to say: the amount of trust displayed here is refreshing. What if I had said, like, fifty bucks? (I’ll tell you what would have happened: I’d walk out of the store and get hit by a car, because karma is just that quick in my life. But I digress.) And I have to tell you: this is not the first time I’ve had this experience at Billecht’s. A couple of years back, I found a coat I really loved there but it had no price tag. After examining it for a moment, the salesperson asked me where I found it. I pointed: it was near (but not on) a rack of stuff that was $75.00. She rang it up for that. WEEKS later, while emptying out my pockets, I found a pricetag stuffed way down in a crack in the lining. The coat was $150. Yikes. But that was accidental karma, right?
And don’t even get me started on the watch I bought my husband for Christmas there, which was rung up with some kind of snafu so I got no receipt and NOBODY working anywhere nearby could figure out how to print one, so I just left without it. Maybe THAT was my karmic reward for the coat thing.
So maybe Billecht’s is just designed to be frustrating. Or maybe, they just approach things with a more laid-back, bartering kind of attitude. Need a suitcase? How much do you think it should be? To them, it’s all relative. And it’s not like they don’t make you work for it, with the hunting and the scanning and the dragging items around. It’s not a sale: it’s compromise. And everyone loves compromise, right?
(Note: I just read over this entry and it’s, like, the stupidest story ever. Why am I even sharing it? Well, at least you can go read Ryan’s blog.)