Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Tales of the Unexpected!

"Unexpected" sounds a lot less judgemental than "weird", don't you think? Today reminded me of one of those unexpected times as I helped Mom register for Christmas craft sales like we do every fall. Some you can sign up online for, others you have to wait in a sign up line. It's something fun we do together, and make friends along with some pin money.

Mom knits old fashioned baby sets - usually a little poncho and booties, bonnet, mitts or some combination thereof. It's a classic look - I had quite a few and you probably did too! I bet you were a cutie wootie angel pie, all dressed up like a doll. Alas, if my older brother hadn't ripped up my baby book, I would have such a picture to share instead of finding one online. For years I wondered why my book was so empty - Mom could only shrug. It's not like she could just go to the computer and print off some new ones, something we take for granted now. Since there aren't any little Potentis running around, Mom loves knowing that some little kid will be wearing her clothing.

Now, there are always one or two items every year that are hard to sell. We try raising the price, lowering the price, and offering the customer a special price, but no luck. Shoppers pick it up, stretch it out, fondle it and hold it this way and that. Sometimes it takes a couple of years for a particular set to sell.

Such was the fate of one gender neutral set in soft pastel yellow and green. "I wish someone would buy it," Mom said sadly after every sale. There was nothing wrong with it, the right buyer just hadn't found it yet. Then one day - it happened! At our very last sale for the year, a customer took an interest in it. She picked it up, stretched it out, fondled it and held it this way and that. But instead of putting it back down on the table, she said "I'll take it!"

Mom was so thrilled she could barely count the change as I bagged it up. "I'm glad you like it!" I chirped.

"Is it for a little boy or a little girl?" Mom asked. Some shoppers prefer their friendly banter post-sale instead of pre-sale.

"Neither!" the customer replied. "It's for my monkey!"

"Oh cool!" I said, giving Mom a chance to regain her composure. After seeing it all in forty five years of retail, Mom couldn't cough up a smile or a little chuckle. Shock had rendered her speechless!

"It's going to fit perfectly! I love it!"

"That's great!" I continued on. "Thanks so much for buying it. Have a good Christmas!" Mom might have all the retail experience, but frequent strange encounters have made me the better actress.

I waved after the happy shopper and turned back to Mom, who had sat down and gripped the other chair for support. "A monkey! Can you believe that, a monkey!" she gasped and stared at me with a look I won't forget. Someone might as well have spilled coffee all over our table. For the rest of the sale she just shook her head and muttered the phrase over and over when there were no customers.

Thus Mom learned that the universe of the unexpected has no boundaries. Each individual makes our world that much more unique, sometimes with a story in it to tell. If smartphones were around then, I would have made the customer promise to send a photo of her furry little friend. But ah, Mom would have been traumatized all over again. I don't know, but the monkey is still probably someone's cutie wootie angel pie, and probably hasn't outgrown the set either!