Life in the Boomer Lane’s annual holiday shopping, in addition to items that can be purchased online, always seems to include items that can only be purchased by making the rounds of little stores that one would never think of to frequent for any reason whatsoever. This year, the hunt was on for small plastic containers of various shapes and sizes that would all contain different items suitable for a 17-month-old to play with. The hunt took her to supermarkets, crafts stores, and her attic, until she was forced to admit that the only place that would have what she was looking for was the dollar store.
LBL and Now Husband, great aficionados of dollar stores, prefer Dollar Tree. Dollar Tree is to dollar stores what Neiman Marcus is to department stores. And LBL and Now Husband deserve the best. A couple days ago, after a foray to Home Depot, LBL plugged “Dollar Tree” into her new iPhone 6. The GPS led her directly into a subdivision and happily declared that she had arrived at her destination. She tried again. This time, the GPS led her, not to Dollar Tree, but to “99 Depot Plus.” She sat in her car for a couple minutes, trying to assess the situation. It didn’t look promising. She decided she would have an adventure. She entered.
At the front of the store, a group of men stood intently watching a TV screen of what appeared to be the acceptance speech of the winner of a beauty contest somewhere on the planet. There was a lot of pointing and commenting. That side of the store was lined with kiosks, where vendors seemed to be selling mostly items that glittered a lot.
The rest of the store was filled with the usual dollar store-type items: paper-thin aluminum foil, religious icons, sketchy health and beauty supplies, and a bonanza of anything made out of plastic. LBL had hit the mother lode. While supermarkets sold Rubbermaid containers for $5.99 (sturdy, boring: your fifth grade math teacher), 99 Depot Plus had plastic containers in all sizes, shapes, lids, and colors (flimsy, exciting: your fifth grade crush). All for 99 cents. She grabbed an armful, along with ribbons, spools of yarn, and colorful straws, and headed to the counter.
The kiosk vendors still bored holes into her as she passed, and the clump of men still stared intently at what must have surely been the longest acceptance speech in the history of beauty pageants. The cashier, rang her purchases up, said something in a language that LBL had not studied in high school, and handed her her bag.
A couple days later, LBL discovered that she no longer had her VISA or her drivers’ license. She only remembered that at one store, she didn’t put them back into her wallet but dropped them into something else, instead. The lost likely explanation is that she dropped them into whatever shopping bag she was holding, then came home, took her items out of the bag and tossed the plastic shopping bag into the recycling bin. Wednesday was trash day, and so her VISA and license are probably long gone.
But, just on the off chance she left them on the counter, she called 99 Depot Plus. She got voice mail. Twice. With no call back. Either everyone was now gathered around the TV watching what was a marathon acceptance speech, or 99 Depot Plus had packed up their merchandise and left town. She knows she has to drive over there, but she keeps avoiding it.
She has put a hold on her VISA, and she will go to the DMV for a new driver’s license on Monday. She comforts herself with the thought that her new driver’s license will have to result in a photo that is far superior to the one that was on her last card. (An aside: Every time the TSA people would look at her driver’s license photo and then look at her and nod approval, she wanted to scream. She would have much preferred to be shunted off to an interrogation room, on the basis of having false ID.)
She will also drive back to 99 Depot Plus to ask them, in person, if they have her VISA and driver’s license. She is certain of two things: They will not. And the beauty contest acceptance speech will still be going on.