Up until recently the likelihood of getting pleasure from a costume package label seemed remote to me. That was until I decided to read one.
You see, one of my daughters was unable to find a good skeleton outfit at Maty’s, so we resorted to the local chino to solve our problem, as is so often the case. Chinese run businesses have risen exponentially over the last decade. They have expanded in both number and sectors. Once they cornered the cheap 5-and-dime and convenient store markets, but now they have moved on to clothes retail. For a while there no one went to these places because it said you were cheesy and couldn’t afford something better. That was until everyone started running into all these people they knew. Suddenly everyone realized everyone else was apparently just as cheesy as them, and like a bull charging out onto the bullring, cheesiness was cool.
These places are like miniature department stores. Rare is the occasion when you catch them off guard by asking for something they don’t have. It’s mindboggling. It’s like what they say about the alphabet. You have a finite number of letters with can produce an infinite number of words. Here’s the same thing. The owners are limited in space, but they seem to manage to get everything they need onto those shelves.
Try something like: “Do you have those tiny screws you use to fasten eyeglasses?”
And you’ll hear without the blink of an eye: “Aisle four, next to the colanders.”
“Thanks,” you say, somewhat rattled and unsure of the relationship between a strainer and a small metal fastener, “I was just going to check there.”
The employees at these stores always talk in aisles. Talking aisles appears to provide just the right comfort in their lives, as if by doing so they were trying to say, “I have everything under control here. I know where everything is.” It’s what they know best. It keeps everything in order. Heck, they even feed you with information on aisles even when they have no reason to send you down one. From time to time I like to put them to the test and requested a product that I’m sure they won’t have, like a lacrosse ball or a Neil Sedaka anthology CD, just to see the look of disappointment on their faces. I’ll say, for example, “I’m looking for a dishwasher for my car?”
Much to my frustration, they often respond completely unfazed by the failure. They just say they don’t have one without a flinch, as if owning an automobile without a dishwasher weren’t important. “No dishwasher. No car. I have dishwasher soap. Aisle 7.”
“I don’t want the soap if I don’t even have the machine. And I certainly don’t care what aisle it’s in.”
I used to think they didn’t care if they didn’t offer something I was looking for because it wasn’t an item they felt was necessary to have in their inventory. But maybe it isn’t that way. Sometimes my fruitless orders end up on those shelves. Maybe they are like oriental Zara’s, where customer requests are noted and sent to the main factory and if there is enough of an oral demand they can have a specimen out in just two weeks. Somehow I get the feeling the same thing happens here. They mull over my request and a week later have a massive dishwasher on sale, “aisle five, next to the toothpicks and the flower pots.”
Naturally. Anyplace but next to the dishwasher liquid.
Did I say I was going to talk about costume package labels? Oh, well.