Oh, the humiliation.

September 12, 2008

Yesterday I went birthday shopping for my wife.  I knew what she really, really wanted, and to bring the bangle home I would have to journey to one of Atlanta’s most exclusive shopping areas.  Where in typical malls the automobiles on display are Pontiacs and Hondas, this is the land of Bentleys and Maseratis, the parking lot full of the same, carefully valet parked.  Despite the fact that this is where my wife and daughter regularly shop, I knew that I was way out of my element.  I was like a Clark bar on the bottom of a swimming pool.  As I walked by the toney shops, passing them one by one, a who’s who of high-end consumption, I looked away as if mere gaze could turn me to a pillar of salt. Eventually this Quasimodo found his way to his destination, already humbled.


When I walk into a store and all of the clerks are wearing black, and high fashion black at that, I know that I’m in trouble.  Okay, I’m an attorney and I know about dressing the part, but with just the sight of fancy black dress I can feel my wallet lighten.  Being on commission there were mere seconds before being set upon with greetings of a good afternoon and queries as to whether I could be helped.  Of course, at that point, I was well beyond help.


Truth is that the clerks in this store were actually quite nice, and I was impressed with their no-pressure sales style.  I knew exactly what I wanted, so I was an easy sell.  But, of course, high above the room was the fly buzzing that would soon find its way to the ointment.


Understand that I’m just a bit old fashioned.  My parents were products of the Depression and I came into this world at a time before credit cards when there was only cash, occasional store accounts, and these new things called “charge cards.”  I’ve always valued the feel of paying cash.  There’s a finality to it, not a mere promise of some real exchange down the road once the bankers have taken their pound of flesh.  I’ve also represented small businesses dealing with credit card merchant accounts, and I know the expenses associated with taking payment via credit card.  Their margins are thin enough without having to pay that percentage to the credit card companies.  Okay, in retrospect I’m sure that the shop that I was in yesterday is well able to absorb the credit card fees.  But habit is habit, and if I know how much something that I am going to buy will cost I will stop and withdraw the necessary cash as a courtesy to the business.  So, yesterday, my wallet full of plastic, I also had a big wad of the green stuff.


Having been presented with my bill, as  I opened up my wallet, all of my plastic in plain sight, I pulled out a thick wad of twenties.  Suddenly, all was eerily silent.  As I looked up into the eyes of the clerk, a very pleasant young lady, the look on her face was one that I might have expected to see had I not opened up my wallet but unzipped something else and pulled out something completely different than a wad of twenties.  She looked down at the cold hard cash and by the look on her face, now no longer horrified but confused, I could tell that she knew what I was offering her, but seemed unable to figure out what to do next.  As I peeled off the twenties laying them in neat piles of five, she collected her wits, graciously collected the bills, if not somewhat gingerly, and retreated to the back room presumably to gift wrap the bangle.  As time went on I could tell something was amiss.


Finally, after an inordinate amount of time, she emerged from the back room with the obligatory black handled designer bag with a black puff of tissue artfully splayed from the top.  In her other hand was a small wad of bills carefully rolled up ($14.26 to be exact) that she placed in my hand telling me “Sorry about the wait, we had to go out to make change”.  D’oh!  Well of course, who pays cash, and that much of it, at a store like that?  I felt like Jethro Bodine visitin’ the big city.  Dang, I might as well have just dropped trow and laid a big steaming pile of stupidity on the rug right in the middle of the store.  I was left to mumble something self-serving like “But of course, you wouldn’t have change would you, I should have used plastic”.  Heck, as it was it looked like I had just come down out of a North Georgia mountain meth lab with part of the day’s take. At best I looked like a yokol, and at worst like a crazed drug dealer. So much for my trip to the big city as I exited the store with my tail tucked between my legs.


I found little enjoyment in the black Bentley on display outside the shop.  It only mocked me.  Shamed I walked the long walk past the disapproving stare of the high-falutin’ shops, trudged  past the valet, and out to the far reaches of the parking lot to my lowly H3 to make my way home, a disgraced man.


Ah, the things that we will put ourselves through for love.   


3 Responses to “Oh, the humiliation.”

  1. Confused said

    Whats a bangle?

  2. Neill said

    Art, you are a man with gumption and backbone. Who else would have suffered the indignity of using cash?

    Look at it this way; it’s love rearing its walleted head. Your true love will never know.

    But we will!

  3. faythe1215 said

    LOL. I half expected for her to pull out a calculator right in front of you.

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