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I made a list. That’s number one and always the first prudent thing to do before going shopping, right? I mean if you don’t make a list, you’re tempting fate, laying open the very real possibility that you could fall prey to every little thing on the shelf. You might buy things you never thought you would ever buy and for no godly reason. Number two, build that list over time. You wouldn’t head to the office supply store for just yellow sticky notes. You make a list and add to it over time. Again, prudence is at work here. I consider myself a smart shopper, I even like the alliterative sound – smart shopper! Maybe even as a title, capitalizing the first letters, Smart Shopper. Unlike the titles “knight” or “dame” bestowed by a monarch, smart shopper is something attainable by anyone. Well, anyway, I don’t run out to buy just a single thing. Needing a single item does not a list make.
After a few days without sticky notes I began to realize that at some point, not necessarily now, but at some point, I’m going to be in need of a black ink cartridge for my printer. Now, we’re really on our way toward building an authentic shopping “list”. Something tangible based on personal need, not want. It took only a matter of days before I realized there was only one ream of copy paper left on the shelf in my home office. Winter weather in Ohio can be iffy at times and I was at least five miles from the office supply store. That’s how another ream of paper made the shopping list. Searching the storage cabinet for other items I might need, I found more than enough compact light bulbs plus a five-year old 10oz. can of “Cleaning Duster”, pressurized air that chills the palm of your hand when you pull the trigger, so I was good there. Now I began thinking of warming up the car before the snow started again. With that list of three legitimate items I made genuine plans to drive to the office store. Wait, I nearly forgot number three. Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach. Yes, it was just a trip to the office supply store but they have a wonderful variety of candy bars at the checkout. “Bless me Father for I have more than once innocently grabbed a king-sized PAYDAY bar...” I confess to paying cash for it, so it wouldn’t appear on my credit card receipt, which I always dutifully submit to my wife upon returning home. Now a quick sandwich and I’m off with my list of three purchases. In and out, nice and quick.
Office supply stores are not as exotic a hardware stores but close. I have a weighted dispenser for Post-it notes on my desk that I couldn’t wait to resupply. I passed up the multi-colored ones and others with ruled lines on them. Nothing fancy for me, just the simple pull one out and up pops another for next time. I found an inexpensive pack of ten that would fit my dispenser and last forever. On my way to the ink cartridges I walked down an aisle filled with plastic see-though containers of all sizes. They had tiny ones that snapped closed and larger ones able to store files safely. After wasting five minutes imaging what I had t hat could fit into those wonderful little containers I moved on the next aisle. Here was a dazzling array of markers and pens, every color you could ever imagine. Fine tips, bold tips, erasable, permanent, packages of three, five, or ten. Both sides of aisle held gleaming display racks mounted with writing instruments. Between them, a boulevard of floor displays chockfull of more stuff I didn’t need. Before long I was swooning over executive office chairs, goose neck desk lamps, file cabinets and a sales floor filled with mahogany and glass topped desks. I sat in the finely upholstered faux leather chairs as if I was really in the market for one. What was I doing? I had a list!
Finally, I found the exorbitantly over-priced ink cartridges before sauntering down an aisle that held a unique display of scissors. Some were for left-handers like me and it made me wonder about the sharpness of the three pairs I had at home. Oh no! I’m actually thinking about buying things I don’t need. I began to think I was slowly evolving. Could it be that I was changing from the “hunter” I was born to be, to becoming a sharp-eyed “gatherer”? I took this disturbing thought to the checkout line where the reams of copy paper were stacked on the counter. The sign said “one ream for twelve dollars – a second half price”. What a bargain, I’ll always need copy paper I thought, as my gatherer mentality was now out on full display. I was out the door in what I considered a successful foray into the world of retail. I was still the hunter, while fighting the temptation for a candy bar.
Feeling smug back home, I began to load my Post-it dispenser with one of the refills that originally took me to town. Something was not right. I inserted, ejected and re-inserted the blank pad of notes. I could not get the notes to pop up one after the other. Upon further examination I realized that what I bought were single notes not one attached to the other accordion-style. The innovative glue product that lacked permanence back in 1977 had mutated into a family of sizes and styles. While roaming the store filled with New Year’s calendars, three-hole punches and flash drives, I didn’t pay close enough attention to what I was buying. Now I have a pack of ten Post-it pads that will not fit my dispenser but will last me -- FOREVER. I feel I deserve a king-sized PAYDAY bar.