We need a couple of sturdy hooks, screws and plugs for our new hammock. The holes have been drilled by the former tenant and the hardware store is not too far away so, with any luck, we will be able to have our next siesta within an hour or two.
The store sells just about everything imaginable and after an extensive tour through washers, microwaves, refrigerators, TV sets, toilet bowls and other domestic stuff we find the tools department.
In the very disorganized aisle “small hardware” we go crazy searching for the right hooks and screws. But we finally find them between goods that have nothing to do with it.
And we still need some plugs.
Right. Plugs. Where? We search through the next aisles. Nothing. No sales person in sight, the whole department seems to be devoid of humans but then – in a far corner, we spot something that looks like a bar. Around it a couple guys. We ask them “do you work here?”
No, they are customers. Waiting.
At that moment a lady appears, wearing the store’s khaki outfit and a bored expression .
We ask her where we can find the plugs. She gives us a glassy look, sighs audibly and asks what we mean.
Oh well, maybe we used the wrong word in Spanish? So we describe what we mean. She sighs again, rolls her eyes and informs us “we don’t sell those things.”
Another sales person walks towards the group of customers at the bar. The sales lady stops him: “do we carry plugs?” ( Ha ! we DID use the right Spanish name for it after all.)
“Yes of course” the guy says “they are in the stockroom.”
??? Ah! in the stockroom
More than an hour has passed by now but we haven’t lost hopes yet and this very afternoon we still might get lucky and enjoy our hammock.
The lady has drifted off into the shadows. She is gone for a long time and we walk around the huge department, examining ordinary toilet bowls, fancy toilet bowls, bathroom tiles, cisterns, sinks, flooring, woodwork, decorations and shower stalls.
We also get very tired and hot and angry. Two hours have passed. Should we walk out and have the same experience at another store? No let’s just wait some more.
And YES! finally. There she is! Proudly she shows us the plugs but as we, overcome with gratitude, want to take the plugs from her she withdraws her hand. NO, NO, we cannot have them. And she also wants us to give her the hooks and screws .
Why? Well… she is going to write us a bill of sale which she will take to the cash register downstairs. Then she takes the hardware back to the stockroom and in the meantime we will have to wait until she returns to give us a copy of the bill which we are to take to the cash register. After payment we are allowed to present the stamped bill at the stockroom desk and then we will receive our screws and plugs. WOW!
Now she starts the proceedings of Writing the Bill of Sales. And tells us to go ahead and wait for her at the cash register downstairs. We wait. She comes back, gives us the bill and NOW we can pay.
Almost three hours have passed.
Payment done. We proceed to the stockroom desk to collect our stuff. The desk is manned with at least 5 guys, nicely dressed in their khaki outfits and they do lot of walking around and talking. Especially to each other.
It takes some time to get ones’ attention. The guy accepts our receipt and disappears in the caves behind him. Comes back with our stuff, asks a colleague to come help him and together they count every screw and every hook: one, two three, four. Yes, that’s right isn’t it? Yes, okay.
My daughter asks where the plugs are.
?” Plugs? What plugs. They are not on the bill.” But since we paid for them they must be on the bill. “Yes they are on the bill but your sales person didn’t stamp that” says the guy.
Where is the sales lady? They call her. Nowhere to be found.
The guy wants to be helpful and tells us to come back tomorrow and he’ll have them ready.
We try our best and most charming behavior. “Couldn’t you get them for us from the stockroom? It’s clear enough they have been paid but the lady forgot to stamp the bill. Please??? “
“The stockroom is closed, it’s past 5 o’clock.”
“What? But the store closes at 8 p.m.!”
“The stockroom closes at 5 p.m.”
My daughter finally charms the guy into getting us the plugs. He tells us he has to take the secret shortcut but he is willing to help.
At the audio department behind us the sales lady turns up the volume of the background music and starts painting her nails. The noise is deafening. Now we have to communicate by lip reading.
When the guy comes back with our plugs we want to kiss him but instead we thank him many times.
He probably couldn’t hear it. But he must have noticed our happy faces .
We finally got to enjoy the benefits of the new hammock.
And so did the cat.