Friday, January 23, 2009

An Exemplary Tale

Buggle blew out three diapers in a row yesterday. I blame the economy.

Yes, I will explain.

As you all know, now that Barack Obama is captain of the planet there is a tremendous[ly expensive] stimulus package in the works to heal the ailing economy. What you may not know is that the program actually started several days ago when Obama commandeered Sam's Club for three days (ending yesterday) and ordered them to distribute $25 dollar gift cards to all new members, effectively bringing the cost of joining Sam's down from $40 to $15. Now, as it happens, the Club also offers a "collegiate membership" with comes with a $15 gift card. Combined with the Obama Samulus Card, this made the membership free! So you see, I had no choice.

When I arrived at Sam's, at 7:45 last night, I was in a nervous, pessimistic mood, for reasons which I will explain perhaps tomorrow. So I was not too surprised when something immediately went wrong: the lady at the membership desk tried to tell me I had to choose between the two promotions. I thought about explaining to her that the power of Change could not be limited by her preconceived categories, but decided that she was a Hope-less case and went with pointing out that the ad didn't stipulate anything about not combining either of the deals with other Sam's Club offers. After I pressed this point for a few minutes, the lady seemed to give in. She alternated between typing secret information into a computer and consulting a colleague on the other end of the counter for I think about twenty minutes, then finally took my picture. I wish I could show it to you. Somehow she managed to take the picture so that I have two necks.

Well, the time came to pay. It was 8:17. I swiped my credit card and drummed my fingers on the counter relishing the thought of those gift cards--oh how close they were! But, alas, my credit card was "invalid." It turns out Sam's doesn't take Visa. Oh, and they close at 8:30. And their ATM doesn't work very well--which is to say that pressing the "ATM" button on their multi-function machine takes you to a screen that says "Assistance Needed for Service Error," until an employee shows up and helpfully punches numbers into it until it freezes completely, and then ten minutes later someone from accounting finally arrives and explains to you that it will take 15 minutes to reboot.

In trying situations like these, as Barack Obama relates in his memoir (the unpublished one), he always involves a manager. So that's what I did. And, you know, I think the manager of my local Sam's Club might be all right. She suggested that I run over to Wal-Mart and get a $40 gift card, which would be redeemable at Sam's, and promised that someone would let me back in through the exit. It all worked, much, I think, to the disappointment of my antagonist, who activated my gift cards with a resentful air, and as slowly as humanly possible. Now the checkout counters were closing. I had maybe two minutes to pick out a box of diapers and pay for it. I paid for my 234 Pampers and headed home.

I think you know how this story ends. Yes. They were too small. Buggle has magically grown to a size 3, and the 1-2 size diapers I ended up with in my haste--let's just say they suggest a speedo on him, and not dwell on the messier consequences.

But, you know, we have friends who could use two hundred small diapers next month. Spending two hours to buy a huge box of the wrong size diapers isn't a failure if it means you can do someone you care about a favor. And that's why I'm putting this one down as a golden mediocrity.

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