Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by Pamela Malone
I was in the men's department at Macy's. It's vast and has many curlicues, something like a giant maze. I do not like to ask directions in a store. I pride myself on knowing every inch of the mall, and every quarter inch of the store. But try as I might, I was unable to find where the men's belts were located. I had already found the accessories section, handkerchiefs and such, and there were no belts. Finally, I asked a young clerk.
Now this man was leaning on an elbow doing nothing. There were no other customers in the store. Yet, when I politely asked, "Excuse me, where are the belts?" he acted as if he didn't hear me. There is a certain invisibility that increases with age, but I have a clear and stentorian voice.
I repeated my question. Again I was ignored. Clerks in department stores are paid a terribly low sum, but nonetheless, they are paid to do something. Would you believe, it was after my third try that he finally responded, "There!" That is what he said and he pointed in front of himself. But in front of him were only T-shirts.
"Where?" I asked, keeping my increased exasperation hidden—I've been a people pleaser all my life, and no one ever knows when I am angry—even I usually don't, though I did this time.
"There!" He repeated and pointed again. It was clear he was piqued.
I can see perfectly well, and my hearing is excellent, except when my husband tells the same story for the fiftieth time, but I could not see any belts in the vicinity. "Do you mean here?" I asked, pointing where he was pointing, though it was just one vast ether and there were no belts there or to the left or right.
Now clearly annoyed, he said, "No, you have to turn left and then go around and then go straight ahead and then make another left."
Needless to say, his finger had not indicated those twists and turns. And he had no intention of leading me there. I was on my own. The good news is that after getting lost in a couple of cul de sacs and finding my way out of a labyrinth that had cut-off torsos wearing bikini briefs, I did find the belts.
To my disbelief and great wonder, a different clerk, popped out of nowhere and said in a gracious, old fashioned clerk's voice, despite his young and trendy hip hop appearance, "Can I help you?"
Needless to say, I was thrilled, and finding myself in Paradise, I bought three belts, though I had need for only one.
Pamela Malone lives in Leonia, New Jersey with her husband, Joe. She enjoys the seasons, and right now is sad because the chubby hummingbird, who so liked the feeder, has fled to Florida.
Back to Flashes