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Shopping is my storm of activity

June 13, 2002|by TIM ROWLAND

Sorry about the big storm last week. My fault.

Also, this column should serve as a clip-and-save for any man who at some time in the future may be lured into the sirens' song of doing his Christmas shopping early, as opposed to waiting until a more appropriate time, such as 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

I went to Sam's Club for the first time in my life about two weeks ago. It's one of those trade-offs when you get hitched. She'll chance into watching a few innings of baseball and I'll chance into a few department stores.

Single guys, who rarely have use for tartar sauce by the keg, don't frequent Sam's Club much. At least I never did. But I must confess to being wholly impressed. I can entertain myself for an entire afternoon like someone visiting New York City for the first time, just gaping up in a sort of superstitious awe at the visage of pallets of paper towels and drums of A1 steak sauce and burlap sacks of rice that look as if they should be attached to a mule somewhere on an Andes footpath.

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I saw an advertisement in The Herald-Mail last week noting that Sam's was having a two-day sale on some specialized merchandise, and I thought, "What better Christmas gift for a significant other than a new set of tools?"

Plus, I would have a big chunk of Yuletide shopping out of the way and be able to live the next six months in tranquil, carefree bliss.

I talked to a very nice fellow by the name of Scott, a gentleman who lives in Philly representing the Antwerp Tool Co., and we had so much fun talking sports I almost forgot the purchase. But I swear, the second I said "I'll take it" the heavens opened up and all calamity broke loose.

Apparently the thought of me doing my Christmas shopping early was just too much for Providence to bear, and sheets and gales of rain and wind erupted. Lightning streaked and thunder roared with the vengeance of Thor.

No matter, I was determined to win. I set my jaw and went to pay and - well, how was I to know Sam's doesn't take Mastercard or Visa?

The gods were against me, no question.

But was I one to give up a fight? No. I was going to get my early Christmas present or die. Three fine ladies from Sam's came to my aid and while Charissa guarded the tools, Donna and Kristy began processing a Sam's credit application. Cheers of "The columnist wins the pennant! The columnist wins the pennant!" surged through my head and I pointed into the gale and shouted "In your FACE, Mother Nature."

And that's when the lights went out and Sam's entire computer network shut down, my credit application with it.

At that point a woman came up to the desk to say that her car had been hit and damaged "by a buggy." I was picturing some Amish guy charging into a vehicle, but it seemed implausible, unless his horse was either blind or backing up without going "beep-beep-beep."

Finally, it registered that "buggy" is Hagerstown for "shopping cart," and as I walked from the store into the parking lot a beaten man, I thought to myself, well, I may not have gotten the tools, but at least I'm not like that poor loser who..."

"who..."

"..."

Smacked into the driver's side fender was a line of carts. I hadn't seen so many buggies since the Great Silver Crash of 1879. I drove home in a mood just to the north of Lady Macbeth.

But things brightened. I got a call from Donna telling me the computers were back up and I was good to go. Then a splendid woman named Linda from Keedysville came to my rescue, vouching for everything except for my character, saying she'd seen the shopping carts whipping into cars (they got hers, too) and we talked to the manager.

The manager's name was Nancy and even though she had about a zillion other things to do at the time, she pleasantly gave us her full attention, taking photos and filing insurance claims.

Smooth the trip wasn't, but I got to meet some fine people out of the deal. So you can be sure the next time I need three metric tons of anchovy paste, I'm going to Sam's.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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