You wouldn’t think it would be difficult. After the walk by the water (a glorious morning — sunny, blue sky, a sailor’s breeze), go to the store, point at the gift, and give them my credit card.
It was not that easy.
I arrived at Cookworks by 9:15 and it didn’t open until 10:00. No problem, I thought, I will just see what is open in the neighbourhood. There was a shoe store a few blocks away that I could browse.
At 10:07, I returned to the store. I hailed a clerk (though, since this was an upscale place, perhaps she was a sales associate). I want to buy an item from a gift registry, I said. After a lengthy lookup process, we arrived at the list. I want to buy that coffee maker, I said, pointing at it. Oh, we don’t have it here, she said.
It transpired that they were moving all of their inventory to the other store across town, at Howe and Hastings. I would have to go there. She promised to print me out a list but, after ten minutes had gone by, nothing had appeared.
Undaunted, I set out. Navigating downtown was a bit of a challenge, since there are one-way systems and major road works involved. By the time I got to the area, I was not in any mood to have to hunt for a parking place. So when I saw one only a block away and felt it was mine, I drove into it regardless of the fact that a Hummer coming in the other direction appeared to feel it belonged to him. In my defence the traffic noise outside, compounded by the number of helicopters landing and taking off, caused temporary insanity. The Hummer driver could have just crushed my car if he’d chosen to, but perhaps I wasn’t worth the potential damage to his bumper.
I put in a quarter — because how long could it take? But the meter registered only three minutes as important-downtown-business-people rates apply here: not long enough. I ended up feeding the meter with $2.50 to park for 24 minutes.
I entered the store. The place was overloaded with inventory. No problem, I thought. I approached the woman behind the counter and explained my mission. She asked me to spell out the names. Normally, I would go through the lengthy process according to her view of what was needed out of some misguided sense of politeness, but this time — You only need a surname and first initial, I said. And it’s item number 2: the coffee maker.
Her computer must also have been overloaded with inventory, as time slowed down while we waited for the list to appear.
Oh yes, she said. I don’t think we have it.
? said my eyebrows. It’s not in stock, she said. It’s discontinued. No … it’s (she appeared to be searching for a word like “back-ordered” but failed to find one) … we can’t get it until July.
No problem, I thought. Let’s just get the duvet cover. That’s at The Bay. I’ll go to the one at Park Royal. Of course, I took the printout from her and walked around Cookworks for several minutes first, since my misguided sense of politeness had returned. Also, I had some very expensive parking minutes remaining on the meter.
At the Park Royal Bay store, I cheerfully went to the gift registry machine and printed out my own list. I took it to a Sales Associate. The Sales Associate looked it up. Oh, we don’t have it here, she said.
Might you have it at another store? I asked. Oh yes, she said. I waited, but no offer to check at other stores was forthcoming. Nor was any other suggestion.
I left and drove home, wondering why I had ever thought the personal touch would have improved my shopping experience.
At home, I ordered the duvet cover online. I completed the information for the gift card. I paid extra for gift wrap. It will be professionally done, though I won’t experience the enjoyment of selecting the paper and ribbon.
Should the recipients of the gift ever read this, I hope they will understand that the morning was a valuable learning experience for me and that gift-giving is a joy, even when the process is not straightforward.
And I will be wearing a pair of the shoes I bought at Freedman’s between 9:15 and 10 to the wedding.