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Cardella: Maybe Next Week

It’s Monday, and I have this really great idea for a column. A blockbuster. I’m thinking Pulitzer Prize. Gotta find space in my cluttered trophy case for a gold medal. I jot down some notes because I write my column on Tuesdays and, as I said, this is Monday. I’m very structured that way. I’m a slave to my to-do-lists. Write down all the daily stuff I intend to accomplish. Call me anal, but everything is scheduled. Everything but sex, which is guaranteed every time Fran wears her PELOSI FOR PRESIDENT T-shirt. Luckily for my aging heart, she doesn’t wear it every day.

I check my Monday list. Macy’s is having a sale on Ralph Lauren chino slacks. Half off. It’s a nice day, so I decide to walk the seven blocks from my Center City apartment. I find two pairs of slacks that I like. The sales lady is very obliging. We chat about what a good buy the slacks are. She even finds out to my surprise that I have a $10 credit to use on this purchase. I’m feeling doubly lucky because that credit would’ve expired the next day. I buy the slacks in the same size as my old Ralph Lauren chinos, 38-30. When I get home, I try on the slacks. They’re too big. I adjust my Tuesday list, adding “Return the slacks to Macy’s for size 36-30.”

Now it’s Tuesday. Column-writing day. Big decision time. Do I write my column before or after returning to Macy’s? The weather’s nice this morning, but it’s going to rain later. I decide that I’ll delay writing my column and walk to Macy’s while the weather’s good.

At Macy’s, I find that the nice sales lady has been replaced by a guy. No one is ahead of me in line. This should be quick. I explain to the guy that I need these in size 36-30 instead of the 38-30 I purchased yesterday. He researches the store’s data file and says unhappily, “I only have a size 36-30 in the olive green.”

“Not in this one,” he points to the pair that is described by Ralph Lauren as “cobalt blue.” Undaunted, I ask if he has a 36-30 in any of the other colors except camouflage. I’m a little old for camouflage. More importantly, I don’t want the government thinking that because I’m wearing camouflage, I’m aching to get sent to Iraq.

The sales guy brings me gray slacks. I’m disappointed because I prefer the cobalt blue color, but gray’s better than camouflage. The sales guy checks the 20 tags attached to the gray slacks. Clicks them one by one. Adjusts my sales slip to include the correct number, removes the plastic gizmo so I won’t set off any alarms, and back I walk to the apartment. It’s still a nice day.

On my way back, I’m thinking of the blockbuster column I’m going to write. Maybe I can expand the column into a novel. And why not a movie? I add another item to my Tuesday to-do list: “Talk to lawyer about movie rights.” This column will finally make all of South Philly love me. Even Packer Park and Girard Estate.

When I go to hang up the gray slacks, I notice that the tag reads 36-32, not 36-30. I check the tag several times because, to tell you the truth, sometimes my cataracts make my eyes play tricks on me. No, the tag still reads 36-32. Back to Macy’s. This time, I take the bus.

A couple of folks have formed a line in front of the sales guy, who’s now looking stressed. I chat with a nice lady ahead of me in line. She says she’s been waiting quite a while. At the register, an animated discussion is going on between the female customer and my sales guy. I go over to the table where the Ralph Lauren slacks are piled up. Lo and behold, I find a cobalt blue pair in 36-30. I’m encouraged. When it’s my turn, my sales guy smiles and agrees that he’d given me the wrong pair and, geez, how about that, they have the cobalt blue pair in my size after all. The sales guy makes the exchange, clicking on 20 more tags, checking sales slips, etc. Hey, he even finds that I’m entitled to another five bucks off due to something called Macy’s REWARDS. He smiles. I smile. By now, I’m anxious to get back to the apartment to write my blockbuster column.

When I get to the Macy’s exit and try to leave, all kinds of warning sounds go off. I feel like I’m in a John LeCarre novel and I’ve been discovered trying to climb over the Berlin Wall. Red lights flash. Sirens sound. No one else is around except a guard who confirms that it’s me that’s causing the problem. My sales guy sheepishly smiles as he informs me that he forgot to remove the plastic gizmo.

I catch a bus to return to my apartment. As I make my way toward what looks like an empty seat, I see a woman passenger. She is nicely dressed and she’s smiling. The only thing is that she’s lying on the seat in a horizontal position. I ask her whether she’s ill. She mumbles something unintelligible. She’s still smiling. Now I’m in a horizontal position so I can face her and repeat my question. She again mumbles something I can’t understand. What I can understand is that everyone on the bus is looking at me in that horizontal position, and not at the lady.

Weary, but determined, I return to my apartment. With my slacks. I notice that, inside my slacks, is printed a note, probably from Ralph Lauren himself. He’s congratulating me on my purchase. My slacks, the note reads, are made of “left hand twill,” which I suppose is a good thing because I’m left-handed. Ralph’s note mentions the word “quality” at least half a dozen times, as if to assure me that these slacks are no stinkin’ DOCKERS.

Feeling supremely confident about my purchase, I sit at my computer finally ready to write the greatest column ever written. But I can’t remember what it was supposed to be about. I can’t understand my notes (I really ought to write more legibly).

Oh well. Maybe next week. 

Follow Tom Cardella on Facebook. Maybe he’ll remember.

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