Christmas shopping is pretty low on the totem pole of priorities for me, but this year I had a hilarious experience as I attempted to avoid complete Scrooge status. It unfolded like an after-school-special: too good, and too absurd, to be true. It started when I heard some guy talking on the radio about the Stanley Cup. I just happened on it after all the usual channels were playing garbage (and I don’t mean the band). The guy was the author of a new book detailing the adventures and exploits of hockey’s coveted prize, along with its faithful handlers. Apparently every player of the winning team gets to spend twenty-four hours with the cup, no matter where they are in the world, and no matter what they want to do with it. All I can say is, if that thing could talk... But anyway, I immediately thought of a good friend of mine who I would endearingly label a “sports junkie.” I met up with him at a sports bar once and when we left, we got into his car only to listen to the game on the radio all the way home... Where he proceeded to turn on the television... Well, you get the idea. So naturally, I thought the book would be perfect! And it was just a few days before Christmas! Score! Needless to say, I was disheartened to learn it was completely sold out at both Barnes & Noble AND Borders--it was even out of stock on Amazon! I didn’t know that was even possible! Cut to December 23rd, I was driving past a little local bookstore. On a whim, I decided to go in and check. You never know, right? Stranger things have happened. So I ran in. It was five minutes before they closed. They didn’t have the book. The guy informed me that even the distributors were out, so he didn’t know when they’d be getting them in. Then he asked if I’d tried their other store. I told him I hadn’t. So he gave them a call and, to my joy and disbelief, they had it! To be more specific, they had one copy. So I gave him my name and went on my merry way. I had it all planned out. The next day was Christmas Eve and I would stop by a couple stores to get some goodies for friends, pick up some food for dinner that night, then get to the bookstore before it closed and pick up the holy grail of gifts. I got to the store in plenty of time. I gave the guy behind the counter my name and he dipped under the counter to grab the book. It was to good to be true. Everything was working out perfectly. I proceeded to tell the guy how hard it was to find and how I couldn’t believe my luck. He shrugged a little and raised his eye-brows in rapport. I told him I would just grab it because I wanted to look around for a bit. He said they had a special place behind the counter and I could just pick it up when I was ready. Seemed logical enough, so I looked around for about ten minutes. Nothing jumped out at me, so I headed to the counter and asked for my book. That’s when the slow motion kicked in. He looked on the counter then under, his eyes getting wider with each glance, until his eyes finally met mine. He didn’t know where it was. He looked horrified, like a kid who came home from the playground, only to find his mom saying, “Where’s your little sister?” It was pretty entertaining actually. I don’t even think there was one moment where I felt angry or upset, I was laughing too hard on the inside. Murphy’s law was at it again. He went all over the place looking for it, but ultimately gave up and deduced he had mixed it with another pile of books and put it in the previous customer’s bag-which only sweetens the story really. It’s not like someone came along and bought it. Someone was going to open their bag and find a book they didn’t buy and didn’t even want. I tried to convince myself they might see the mistake and bring it back to the store, but no such luck. So to that customer: Merry Christmas!!! As for my friend the sports fan, he got a hilarious story instead. Oh, and an empty amazon box containing a picture of the book.
Please note, the clerk was incredibly apologetic and kind. He gave me a gift certificate and phoned me as soon as the book came in. And my friend says it’s a great read! Highly recommended!!!