Regular visitors to this part of the blog swamp know that Tuffy P and I make custom mosaics. We’re working on a set of goldfinches made from broken crockery, tiles and what-have-you so today I dropped into our local Value Village in search of yellows. I was prepared to buy bright yellows, pale yellows, dirty yellows, flowery yellows, patterned yellows, the more variety the better.
I scoured the ceramics shelves and loaded up with everything yellow they had, except for a couple over-prices vases. This included an un-priced group of saucers, 11 of them. When I got to the cash, the unpriced saucers stopped my cashier in her tracks. There’s no price on these, she said. True, I responded. Make one up, ok? I can’t do that. I’ll have to get my manager to assign a price.
A moment later she returned with her manager, who was decked out in full Hallowe’en regalia. He must have spent an hour getting dressed up for work today. These are part of a set he said. These are all the ones like this on your shelves, I countered. No more. He considered this. No, I can’t sell you these saucers because they’re part of a set. If you like, I can have someone go through the shelves to find the rest of the set for you.
Now, I had just been through all their shelves, looking for anything yellow. If they were there, I would have found them. I explained this to him. If it’s yellow, I’ve got it, said I. Unbelievably, he said, so the answer is no then? Excuse me? You’re saying you don’t want to wait while we reunite these pieces with the rest of the set? I took a deep breath. There are no other parts of this set over on your shelves. He pulled out his ace in the hole. We have people, he told me, whose entire job is to go through shelves putting sets back together for sale. They can find the other pieces and you can buy the set.
I wanted to say, buddy you’re an idiot, but I didn’t. Instead I said, hey, you can sell me these saucers or not sell me these saucers, but I’m not spending another second discussing this. As I told you, he started in again….. OK, I get it. You’re really not going to sell me these saucers. We’re done. He scurried away, happy to have frustrated another customer. I’m confident next time I go into this place, the same saucers will still be there, mired in Value Village limbo – and I still won’t be able to buy them.