It is while on your way to tangentially help people in Haiti that you will again help people in Haiti. A fireman will be in the middle of the road standing next to a sign that says “Relief For Haiti.” You will be stopped at a traffic light, and you’ll open your window and shout to him, “Hey,” and he’ll come over to your car with his helmet, which is doubling as a donation box, into which you’ll throw all of your loose change. Mostly quarters, maybe a buck and a half. You will briefly consider giving him the five hundred dollars in your pocket, but you will think better of it.
You will drive to Best Buy, because you have been charged with purchasing two handheld waterproof GPS units for two friends of yours who have decided to abandon Spain and fly to the Dominican Republic, from where they will travel by land to a country that has recently been devastated by a magnitude seven-point-something earthquake. They will be going to this country to assist with the relief effort, because they’ve both spent a lot of time there, and because they feel a moral obligation.
They will be going to devastated Haiti because they can help.
And since they have a three-hour layover in Boston, you will be asked to help, too. You will be asked to help them help. And you will feel the same moral obligation that they do. So you will say, “Yes.”
So you will arrive at the store.
Then you will go into the store.
You will find the GPS salesman, and he will be talking to some man who you recognize but cannot for the life of you put a finger on. You will be in a hurry. You will want to interrupt their conversation by saying this: “Hey! Do you work on fucking commission, or what? I’m trying to spend four hundred dollars in five minutes, and you’re standing around talking to some shithead in a wife-beater!” You will not say it, though. You are not in that emotional state yet.
Eventually, the shithead in the wife-beater will admit that he’s not going to purchase anything today, and you will get your turn.
The salesman will not try to up-sell you, because he senses that you are in a hurry, and he will give you two GPS units to bring to the counter and purchase. First, he will give you two different ones–two different models. You will realize that one of them is much more expensive than the other one, that their combined cost totals more than the five hundred dollars in your pocket, and leave the cheaper one with the cashier while you go back to retrieve its match. The salesman will give it to you. Then you will go back to try to find the cashier who has stashed your other GPS device. But he will have disappeared. You will cut through the line to look for him. A man with a handlebar mustache and a cowboy hat will say to you, “There’s no cutting in line,” and you will reply by saying, “Jesus–I was already in line, and I’m looking for the guy who has my fucking GPS unit. Chill the fuck out.” You will say this testily; and because you are bigger than the man with the handlebar mustache, he will indeed chill the fuck out about it.
You will ask a random cashier about the missing GPS unit, and he will–as if by magic–pull it from beneath his counter and hand it to you. You will go back to wait in line. On the way to the back of the line you will glare at the man with the handlebar mustache. Your glare will say, “See, motherfucker? Fucking GPS unit, see? You think I was cutting in fucking line, asshole? You think I’m fucking ten-years-old, motherfucker?” But he will not meet your eyes. You have intimidated him.
Good for you.
When you meet the new cashier, she will scan your GPS units. One of them–the display model–will scan for ten thousand dollars. This will confuse you both. She will try again. The bar code will not have changed. She will call another employee over, who will go back to the GPS section of the store looking for a replacement. You will wait around for fifteen minutes, during which time you will return phone calls and relay messages. Many customers will make their purchases without incident, which will annoy you. It will annoy you because you have to get to the airport, and this shit is getting ridiculous.
The employee who was sent to get a replacement GPS unit will return with bad news. He will say, “We’re all out.”
And this is the part where you will flip out.
You will say, “No, you aren’t. There’s another fucking one right back there. It was just in your fucking hands.” You will point, for effect.
He will reply, calmly, “We can’t sell you that one.”
You will ask him why: “Why the fuck not?”
People will start to notice.
He will quote company policy, “We can’t sell a display model unless we’re actually not selling the product anymore.”
You will audibly sigh. It will be a sigh of rage, if such a sigh exists. If it doesn’t, you will invent it.
Then you will say, “That’s fucking ridiculous. I’m trying to get this shit to fucking Haiti tonight, and you’re telling me that you can’t sell it, because you’re fucking out of the product you’re trying to sell, and you need to keep the display case warm?”
He will say yes.
Then he will say that he’s arranged for another store location to put that same GPS unit, which they have in stock, on reserve for you. You will realize that this store location is on the way to the airport.
Then you will snap out of it.
You will apologize for being a dick, “Look, I’m sorry for being a dick. It’s just been a really stressful couple of days,” and he will nod in customer service agreement. He will lead you to the customer service counter, where he will refund half of your money, and give you directions to the next Best Buy. You will apologize again. “Again, I’m sorry. You’re just doing your job,” and walk out the door.
When you get to your car you will be physically shaking. The shaking will be a consequence of a mixture of rage at corporate whoredom and guilt. It will include a dash of feelings of helplessness in the face of widespread horror. You will open the car door, put the singular GPS unit tenderly on the ground, and start the car. You will shift into reverse. You will travel a distance of two feet.
And then you will burst into tears.
You will put the car in park. You will cry for fifteen seconds. Then you will wipe your eyes, drive out of the parking lot, and do what you still have to do.
This is what you will do. I know. Because I was there.
Donate, please, please, please, to Michael and Leah, two heroes of our time, here.