Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Oh Yeah, the Lemons

The sign on the shelf said four bucks, not bad for a bottle of Pinot Grigio especially to one like me with no discerning palate. But examining the receipt in the parking lot I note that I’m charged $5.29.

In that instant I become my mother whose habit was to schlep, never just carry, her groceries home, put everything away and then study the penciled addition on the brown bag. What’s with the nineteen cents? she would exclaim confirming her suspicion she was being robbed. That gonif at Smiley Bros., she suspected, had a wandering thumb that ended up on the scale. Curses were directed at the bald head and mustache with a short stub of a pencil on his ear. Shopping was combat for my mother. Did she secretly enjoy the sport of haggling, the wins and losses, the quick eye, the gotcha? 

With my mother summoned to my side I confronted the market manager as if he were descended from the fruit store of yesteryear. He marched me back to the display with the $4.00 sign. Patiently as if this were a ritual performed many times before, he pointed out that four dollars-- in large print-- was the price only if -- in tiny print -- you purchased six bottles. Deceptive, wouldn’t you say? He agreed but pleaded that the chain store dictated these ads and he was powerless.

My mother would suddenly remember the 19 cents, Oh yeah, the lemons. If she had taken each item from the bag and checked it against the price marked she would have saved herself the rant. But this was not about logic. This was about her God-given right to aggravation. Better to pit herself against the Goliaths of the marketplace who were out to get her rather than put down her guard and smell the lemons.

Mumsie lives yet in my bones. I toast her with a glass of the white grape. I’m tempted to throw in a slice of lemon in her honor. Sparring with computerized corporate America is never about winning but it sure keeps the blood moving and wakes up the ghosts.


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