A Gift from the Past
I’ve reached that age when even normally insignificant things can wind up reminding me of how many years I’ve already been on the planet. Like using a gift certificate, for example. The other day, the simple, common act of buying something with a gift certificate left me rolling my eyes, muttering under my breath and dying to escape the store with even a tiny shred of my dignity still intact.
Let me backtrack just a bit. I probably shouldn’t admit to this, but I still have a black leather man-purse, or “murse,” from my mild and lazy early ’80s period. It’s actually a holdover from an ancient fashion trend when all of us cool and trendy guys carried a small, masculine looking leather bag so that we didn’t have to shove a wallet and car keys into our too-tight Angels Flight pants. Who am I kidding? I’ve always had thighs like old growth Sequoias, so even 35 years ago I could only dream of wearing skinny, leg-hugging pants like Angels Flights. Oh well. So let’s say that I didn’t want to ruin the svelte lines of my flat front Dockers, okay?
Anyway, these days a fat wallet in even my nicest Champion sweat pants isn’t going to ruin my ultra-casual (some people, like my wife, would say “sloppy”) look. Even so, I’ve hung onto my worn, old black leather murse in which I now keep things I don’t use very often – like department store credit cards, airline mileage and rental car cards, pet store loyalty cards, petrified candy … you get the idea. For some reason, even my old Glendale Community College student body card from the mid-’70s is in there. Maybe hanging on to it reminds me of my college days. Whatever.
In cleaning out some of the expired cards from my murse one day, I came across a gift certificate that had been given to me for a long ago birthday. It was for a big local sporting goods store and was printed on a 4-by-8-inch piece of paper with the store’s logo. Handwritten in ink was the value of the certificate. How quaint, right?
I couldn’t believe I hadn’t used it yet in all these years. So the next time I was out and about I stopped by the store in question, found a few items I couldn’t live without and proceeded to check out.
When I handed the gift certificate to the sales clerk, he took it as if I was passing him the Dead Sea Scrolls in all their antiquity. I mumbled something about not knowing if it was still valid seeing as how it had been in my wallet for quite a few years. With bulging eyes and gaping mouth, the clerk exclaimed to the employee at the register next to him, “Look at how old this thing is! Like, I’ve never seen one like this!! Wow … like, we should, like, frame this or something!” He really, like, said that. Out loud. I’m frankly surprised that his outburst didn’t cause a traffic accident on Foothill Boulevard.
Long story short, the store honored the certificate. In fact, my purchase that day was less than the amount on the certificate. I had a refund coming back to me which the loud young lad was kind enough to put on a plastic gift card – just like all the other cards in my wallet. Knowing me, it will now likely sit inside my murse for many more years.
And who knows? By the time I finally use whatever balance is on the thing, some other prepubescent store employee may even hold it up for all to see and say, “Wow! How long have you had this thing?!? Did you inherit it from your grandfather? I’ll bet the guys on Pawn Stars would buy this relic off you!”
Then again, maybe I’m being too sensitive. I hear that happens with old people.
I’ll see you ’round town.