I’ve got all those feelings. And from the least likely place I can imagine. A department store.
Normally I leave a department store feeling any number of ways: guilty for spending too much, silly for impulsive buys I made, let down for being unable to find the perfect outfit. But I don’t feel that way today.
The occasion is Bloomingdales’ Home Sale. The perfect opportunity to be focused on a list of specific items I need to find. My own private treasure hunt. If the list is long enough I will be too busy to be distracted by frivolous merchandise. Stuff that some day will wind up on a shelf in a garage sale.
Think of the donut maker you had to have, I warn myself. Stay focused and don’t wander.
I’ve been wanting a cappuccino maker for a very long time. Years ago we received one as a gift, but it was so difficult to use, and impossible to clean, that I sold it in our last garage sale.
But this one is different. I have been served wonderful cappuccino in friends’ homes, and even at my hairdresser’s salon. I have seen how easy it is to prepare and how simple to clean. It is always a special treat to order a cup of cappuccino at a restaurant; why not enjoy that pleasure at home?
Knowing what I wanted, understanding the purpose of my visit I walked purposefully into Bloomingdales. Because of my parking space’s location I had to speed walk right past the jewelry department. Fine and costume. And the designer handbag department. And the cosmetics department, just to reach the escalator to the home department. So far I am still empty handed; no trinket has managed to seduce me.
Straight to the coffee machines, and onwards to the sought after cappuccino maker.
All is well and on schedule. I purchase the machine, put the box into the trunk of my car, and go back inside to search for cappuccino cups. On the way I pick up a few brand new dish towels at 20% off.
The cup search, though, was not as direct or fruitful; either the cups were tiny enough for only straight espresso with no space for foamy, frothy milk, or they were the size of normal coffee cups: too large. I was beginning to feel like Goldylocks in the Three Bears children’s story. Too large, too small, but where was the “just right?” I wasn’t able to find what I was looking for by myself, so I asked a saleswoman if the store sells Cappuccino cups. And that is when it happened.
The heroine of my story was standing there, waiting to pay for a boxed set of dishes at the 20% off sale price. When she heard my question she turned to me and said,
“Would you like the cups in this set of dishes? They’re too small for me. I like my coffee in a large mug.”
Is this real? Is this stranger offering me a set of 16 brand new cups? People don’t walk around offering strangers brand new coffee cups from brand new boxes of dishes.
But she did and she was. Free.
I pointed to the dishtowels I bought and humbly asked, “Would you like a towel?”
A store employee appeared to help her carry the large box to her car. He opened the sealed box and removed two cardboard boxes of cups. The saleswoman wrapped them in bubble wrap, put them in a double shopping bag and handed the bag to me.
And that was that. I still can’t quite believe it.