Gone Girl. A Tale of Road Rage.

On a scooter.

Yesterday was my birthday…
I turned 28.  In hexadecimal “nibbles”.
(google it, hexadecimals are kinda cute).

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But back to the story…
…my friend Flo came and picked me up and took me to the mall.  The scooter hire girl remembered me and I got the highly coveted Scooter Number One. It is zippier, better at stopping when you ask it to, and the side mirrors don’t flop down all over your handbag.  Score! I tootled around a few shops high on the joy of a birthday and time with Flo.  I tried not to be distressed that I couldn’t even get down the lingerie aisles in Farmers Department Store. I figured I didn’t really need a birthday bra. I smiled anyway at the shop girl near the fitting rooms in Esprit when she said it might be easier to shop online. It might.  But it isn’t as much fun as shopping with Flo. And why shouldn’t I enjoy a bit of retail therapy?  Then I dropped Flo off for her appointment at the makeup counter.  I should be, er… more into makeup… but the bookshop was just down one floor and it is an unfair competition! Hmmm… makeup, books, makeup, books. It’s really no competition between makeup and books.  A hole was burning in my pocket.  For my birthday I’d been given a cool hundy, and I was thinking about the delicious potential to drop it exclusively on BOOKS!  Squeee!

I scootered down there faster than you can say ‘tortoise’.   A few aeons later, I arrived.  Mobility scooters have a speed switch that ranges from slow (a tortoise icon) to fast (you guessed it, a hare)… but even at hare-speed, it takes a looong time to get anywhere.  In the front of the bookstore of choice, Whitcoulls, they have some displays of new releases.  My twitchy fingers were eager to pick up the first one I could see. I liked the title, ‘Gone Girl’.  But the angled display tables made it impossible for me to pull up alongside on my scooter. I did a sleek little (sixteen point!)  turn and tried to reverse in. I banged the corner of the table.  A Whitcoull’s employee looked across at me, arched her eyebrow and walked off in the opposite direction. I reached for the book. It was 5cm out of my grasp. There was no room to ease myself off the scooter and stand to give myself more reach. Had I had room, I’d have been able to do that. But it occurred to me in that moment, that many people in wheel chairs can’t stand to get to things out of reach; what would they do in this situation?  I looked around for the employee, hoping for some help.  She was gone, girl.

I was not going to be deterred.  A hundred to spend on books is one of the greatest gifts of all time. I wasn’t going to let a bookshop girl with her archy eyebrows get the better of me.  I gave my embarrassment a silent talking-to and manoeuvred out of the space.  At the back of the store, the wall is lined with authors from A-Z.  I wouldn’t have a spotlight on the newest, but I might find some gems. I set my course for the rear. Half way on the dial between tortoise speed and hare speed.  I was veritably hurtling, turtle-style. The aisles in Whitcoulls do fit a scooter if it is going straight down the middle. Sadly, turning is not optional.  People on mobility devices clearly shouldn’t want to browse in bookstores. There are artfully arranged stacks of merchandise on the floor at the corners of all of the aisles.  The Little Yellow Digger-gift-boxed-set display met Scooter Number One as I attempted to round the corner. Scooter, 1, Diggers, 0.  A mother in the same aisle helped me by picking them up (thank you anonymous mother).

I spent half an hour in Whitcoulls. I looked for help no less than fifteen times.  Help to reach down titles I couldn’t reach, help with the infernal aisle corner displays. Help finding the poetry section.  I saw three more staff members. All three saw me and changed direction. No one offered to help. The crickets chirped.  When your eyes are not at the height of standing people, it is quite hard to get eye contact.  When you are down that low, even a wave can be lost behind a bookshelf. My hundred dollars hid deeper into my pocket. No party for it, today.

I lost my desire to purchase books from that store. I threw the scooter into reverse.  It has a really high pitched reversing beep.  It’s an incredibly annoying sound. I left it in reverse long enough for archy eyebrows girl to give me one last look. I accelerated past one last corner display.  I may have *cough* inadvertently disturbed its symmetry. I left the store.  In my imagination I looked a bit like a speedy hare, leaving a cloud of dust in my wake.  In truth, it was a less dramatic exit.  Think, slo-mo.  But the expression on my face remained steely resolute.  I patted my pocket. That’s a hundred bucks you don’t get today, Whitcoulls.  And then, I was a gone girl, too.

So my post about my birthday books is postponed.  …maybe there is a bookstore out there who wants my custom, even if I am not walking on two feet.

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PS:
I sent the people at Whitcoulls a link to my post as soon as it went up.  Very quickly Diane got back to me.  I am very grateful for such a timely response and so glad that the store will look into ways to improve customer service for people on mobility devices.  Thank you, Whitcoulls.
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This is what she wrote:
Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 4.54.42 pmThanks for touching base and sharing your in store experience with us. It is disappointing that we have not been able to deliver the customer experience you, and every customer, deserves. There is nothing better than browsing books especially in the excitement of birthday present shopping. I will be passing this information onto our Store Manager to ensure they can look into this situation and how they can use this to improve their customer service.

In the meantime, I would love to extend a birthday present to you from Whitcoulls. If you are still interested in the Gone Girl Book, I would love to send you a copy along with a $20 Whitcoulls Gift Card that may enhance your birthday spending money. If you can send us your courier address and we will arrange to get this out to you.

Kindest regards,

Diane

 

Newsflash

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I used to watch the news, but now, not so often. When did that change?  
I used to know who was at war with who and what kinds of horrors people were inflicting on each other each day.  Now I find the news is on when I am struggling to get dinner on the table.  It’s the absolute worst time of night to take anything in; the kids are clamouring at the counter, sometimes they are needing school letters signed or doing their last minute homework.  Our family is large and at that time of night there are five or six of us in the dining room. Sometimes, if the homework is done, I’ll try to be a broader citizen. I put the news on and turn the sound up.  The chaos and cacophony reaches crescendo.  I turn it off.  I should probably record it and watch it after the kids’ bed time.  But after bed time is so deliciously quiet and zen… (who am I kidding!  ‘I just need some water!’/  ‘I’m going to the toilet!’/  ‘Just one. more. cuddle!’  The latter always works ‘cause I am a sucker).  What I mean is, after they go to bed, it is my time.  My time with my hubster; if he’s not working.  My time to let go of all the day, disengage and coast.  I don’t want to see the torment of the world out there or carry the pain of those children or shake my head at the follies of youth or tut about some new journalistic low.  I don’t want to think at that time of night.  I need to chill out.
I deserve it.

Or, I’m baking and the choc drops are calling my name.  I pop a few in my mouth.  Why not?  It’s me making all the bakey effort, and I hate baking.  I’m not even going to eat most of these cookies.  I slave and they get wolfed down in a day!  Humph.  Gone in a flurry of after school famish.  All my efforts.  A few choc drops is the least I should have, really.  Should be the whole leftover portion.  After all, I deserve it. Then, it’s 2.45pm and I need to get my skates on for the school run.  A coffee, yes, a coffee might be nice… maybe there is time to call in at the cafe on my way out?  I’m ordering and I spy that gluten free raspberry friand, so far superior to my humble mum creations, beginning to bounce up and down in the display cabinet.  “Hey, Rach!  You’ve had a hard day’s morning!  Eat me!  I will solve all your concerns.  I will soothe all your achey woes.  Eat me!”  And I make friends with that little friand. It would be rude not to, and after all.
I deserve it.

Or, I’ve been in bed most of a week, conserving my energy for the bare minimum.  It’s been miserable.  I feel like a little pick-me-up. So I have a little guilty look over on the Book Depository website, again.  Just window shopping. I believe I should support local sellers, really.  I know I’ve spent more than enough on books in the last wee while, but something new to read?  Why not?  I have to put up with this stupid illness day after diabolical day.  Most of the time I keep the whinges inside my own head.  It bites.  I add books to my cart.  Just a way of grouping my favourites together, I tell myself. Like a neat little pile. I see a new audiobook that would be great for the kids.  I can justify that one easily.  In fact, they need it.  Good for their learning.  I click through to the confirm order page.  I ignore the total and tick the boxes. What?!
I deserve it.

kidwithtyre

Where I grew up poverty was a smell.  A rancid odour of uncleanliness. A reality you couldn’t ignore.  It slapped you in the face and demanded action, notice, emotion.  We lived in a third world country and down on the riverbanks behind our home was a squatter settlement.  The most common sound I heard from that settlement during the daytime was the sound of children laughing, splashing in the river, jumping off the bridge.  A toy worthy of envy was a tyre, toted alongside by a stick, wheeled beside its’ proud owner; belly pushing against skin, malnourished.  Dull eyes and scabby skin. Clothes worn into a polished brown sheen of dirt.  Singing.  Walking.  Feet hardened and yellowed and soles cracked. A wide, woolly headed smile that could crack open the hardest heart.

I think about those kids and I am reminded. We are born fortunate.  We arrive here, our lungs swell and we shout for attention.  We take for granted the care we get.  Food, warmth, love.  We grow in our warm cocoons, surrounded with the comforts of modern life.  Water from the taps, light from the switch, rest from the bed, free education, help from the doctor, subsidies, special programmes, trade agreements, interest rates, infrastructure, welfare.
After all, we deserve it, don’t we?

We don’t deserve anything.
Our rights are not in fact, ours by right.
Nature can give and nature can take.  Circumstances destroy. All we think we own and know to be ours can be gone in an instant. It happens all the time.
But don’t take it from me, you can see it on the News.

I don’t deserve the fruits of my labour or the benefaction of the garden.  I don’t have a claim to this beautiful free country, clean air, real food.  It’s not mine by right, this home, these people I love.  I am splendiferously fortunate. I could have been born into the squatter settlement behind my childhood house.  I could have contracted an illness far worse than my own.  I could have been childless.  I could have been alone.  I could, like millions of women and girls, have been sold into slavery. I am a whisper of fate away from another set of circumstances at any given moment.  I don’t deserve it; all that I have.  But I accept it.

And when I remember to think about how undeserving I am, I am grateful.

 

 

 

picture credits TV3 NZ and  nationalgeographic.org

view an incredible TED talk that made me think.