The ultimate discount store
I walked down the stairs and approached the crumbling basement of what looked like a house, but was really a store. What drew me to it was the big 50%-off sign with a stupid yellow smiley face and I impulsively stepped in. The room was dark, dank, dusty, musty and cluttered, but that had never stopped me before. I called “Hello” and I saw a young man with a navy-blue checkered shirt sitting in the corner, hunched over his phone. He was probably doing that thing young people do nowadays, I think it’s called texting or something. I am amazed by all the things they can do on their phones. We never would have even imagined this when I was a child.
The young man didn’t even look up when I said hello but I barely noticed because a $2 price tag caught my eye. I went to the corner and I saw so many things, beautiful, practical, glittering things that were beyond my wildest dreams. I carefully picked up china with dainty flowers outlined in gold for $1, I grabbed a royal-blue cashmere dress for my granddaughter for $2, and a pearl necklace for my sister that was priced at $1. And that was just the beginning. I saw so many things, all for amazingly low prices, lower than I had ever seen before. There was food, clothes, curtains, jewelry, so many different objects, and they were of much higher quality than any dollar store, all for the lowest prices.
Very quickly my arms were full and I staggered over to the cash register and I asked the young man if he could give me a bag. He smiled at me, showing me his braces, and told me he would not only give me a bag, but could give me a suitcase for only 50 cents. “Are you joking?” I exclaimed, but he was serious. I felt elated, but also frantic, afraid of missing this chance. I had never seen so many things for such low prices in my life. I rushed to fill up my suitcase, aware that I couldn’t be there all day. It was getting close to 11:00 a.m. and I had to go to the bank in time to get the free coffee and finish doing all of the other things on my agenda for the day. After an hour of shopping, I had more things than I could possibly need, but I thought I should just take everything that looked nice because I could give them as gifts for my friends, neighbours and even acquaintances. This was an opportunity that could not be missed. Breathlessly, I was running around, imagining all of the happiness that I could give to people with these beautiful gifts.
Finally, having been there for about an hour, I moved towards the cash register. The young man rang each item through and my total was not more than $20. It was unbelievable. I had never seen anything like it in my life. “How is everything so cheap?” I asked the boy. “How do you make money?”
He smiled. “We have our ways,” he said. “Anyway, it is not money we are after.”
Weighed down by all my stuff, wheeling a suitcase, I walked slowly towards the big brass door and tugged on it, but it wouldn’t open, no matter how hard I tried.
“Hello dear,” I called to the young man. “Can you please open the door for me? I can’t seem to get it open.” The young man smiled. “The rule is that the door will not open if you have any object from this store in your hands.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, feeling confused.
“Basically, you can’t take anything you’ve bought with you,” he explained, as if this was a very normal occurrence.
I looked at him carefully, examining his eyes to see if he was joking. “But I just paid for it. It doesn’t make sense.”
“Where you are going, none of those things will help you,” he said gently. He now seemed older than his years.
“But, I don’t understand,” I said. I feel ashamed to admit it, since I am 87 years old after all, but tears were coming to my eyes.
“You can enjoy these things for a little longer, but then you will have to leave them here,” he explained slowly and carefully as if I were a child who was playing with toys at a friend’s home. I felt that he understood something I did not.
I tried to bargain with him. “What if I keep just a few things, like the blue dress and the pearl necklace?” I suggested with a smile. “I know it’s not fair, I shouldn’t be able to get all of these things for such low prices.”
Again he shook his head with compassion.
“Our policy is that you cannot take anything with you. Some have a hard time with it, but once they leave here, they understand.”