|"The Display Model"|
But that's the display!
By John R. Greenwood
Mrs G. and I were putting the finishing touches on our flower planting Saturday afternoon and we came up a bit short on the potting soil. I could have sifted out a wheelbarrow full from my dwindling compost pile but decided to make a speed run to the garden center down the road. We'd had good luck with a brand I purchased there earlier in the spring. I headed out solo. When I first got there I moseyed around the trees and shrubs for awhile because that's what men do when they are alone with a check book and a pickup truck. Because I am cheap I usually wait until the shrubs are dry, brown and half-half price, I vowed to return in late September. I headed inside to grab the two bags of the potting soil I came for. After standing in line for 300 seconds, while my hair proceeded to finish greying, I was finally summoned to Register #2. Register #2 was staffed by Miss Not So Perky. I wasn't expecting Kelly Ripa, after all it was 4:30 on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, on Memorial Day, at a garden center. She was wilting and ready to go party with Paris Hilton and Snoop Dog. I was Burgess Meredith in a dirty overstuffed t-shirt pointing at bags of potting soil. Potting soil propped up in a display so quaint it looked like a photo shoot for Farmer's Friend Magazine. Let's just say, I knew the facial expression that was coming next.
"Which one, the peat moss?"
"No, the potting soil. Here I wrote down the number."
"The Miracle Grow?"
"No, the other one. The organic one."
"NO, the Espanoma bag!" (The name brand is actually Espoma, I realized later)
That's when she looked at me like, "I wish you were in a nursing home not a nursery right now!"
"Yes, please, two bags."
That's when I pulled out the check book.
The look intensified.
"Is there any out front?"
"No, you have to take this un-legible, one-inch by two-inch, smudge-faded receipt out back to the other customer service specialist and he will, with the skill of a trained professional hunt down your prey."
When I can remember them, and they are simple, I follow directions fairly well. I jumped in the truck and pulled slowly out back.
Out back is a parking lot. It's a graveyard of splintered old pallets, piles of stuff, and mountains of peat moss.
Not a soul in sight.
Not a pallet of Espoma potting soil either!
Oh wait! There in the distance, like the beacon of a far off Maine lighthouse, I spotted a lone bag of my potting soil of choice. I pegged the throttle. That baby was mine! It had a corner torn off. Normally I would disregard it like a pint of short coded sour cream, but not today. I had a lined truck bed and the moon would be up soon. I grabbed it and tossed it in. Still no customer service specialist in sight. At this point I had scoured around out back for so long I was concerned I might run out of gas. I know what's next. I wish I had taken those Advil.
So back upfront I go, park the truck, unfold the crumpled receipt, take a deep breath, start counting to ten; one, two…
I signal to Miss Not So Perky who seems to be prepping for her prompt departure.
"There are no more bags of the potting soil I already paid for. I only found one torn bag.
___________________________ was the look I got.
"Let me get Stock Specialist Sammy Letmecheckoutback, I'll have him check out back."
"I already looked everywhere. I found one torn bag. There isn't anymore Espoma within twelve miles."
"I'll have Sammy check just in case your so old and blind you missed an entire pallet of bright green bags a normal person my age could see from across Route #9."
Now I hear the theme from Jeopardy wafting through the PA system
Five minutes later Sammy Letmecheckoutback returns looking like an old-school Endicott Johnson shoe salesman.
I look around and see Miss Not So Perky ducking down behind the counter. I think she going to make a run for the door.
I look Sammy square in the eye and with all the strength I can muster say, "Why can't I just take that bag?"
There nestled proudly in the display of hay bales and bags of all things dirt, sat the last bag of the potting soil of choice, Espoma, bright green and ready to go for a ride.
"Oh, I thought you were already taking that one"
When my eye stopped twitching I showed Sammy my receipt, pointed to the bag on the back of my truck, pointed to the bag on THE DISPLAY, and reached for the Holy Grail with a UPC number written on it.
I tucked both cubic feet under my arm like I used to do with my screaming three year old and bolted for the parking lot like Walter Payton.
Out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of Miss Not So Perky drafting close behind.
"BUT THAT"S THE DISPLAYYY!"
I save my super powers for days like this. She never had a prayer of catching me. I tossed the sweet dirt in the truck bed and sped off like McQueen in The Getaway.
I waved proudly as I thundered north on Route #9.
As I glanced up in the review mirror I whispered softly, "Don't fret Miss NSP, you'll just have to get a black marker and write #007280 on a fresh bag when it comes in next April"
Happy Shopping Everyone!
* Please note: I love supporting local businesses and the youth of America. Many years ago I was both. I wrote this for fun based on my interpretation of an everyday hunk of life. I will continue to write large checks at this location. I urge you all to do the same. You should see our flowers!