1024 Words

Broken Promises

Lorraine M. Gregoire

"Sheesh! Give me a few points for self control!" I snapped at my cranky husband. I wanted to stop at a sporting goods store "Going Out of Business" sale we passed in the mall. "There's nothing we need", his usual grumpy male comment. "It's all overpriced junk. If they had anything good they wouldn't be going out of business."

"But, it's sporting goods", I wheedled. "Could be some good deals for the grandkids. And, you like boats and fishing stuff. I've put up with that photo of your "dream-canoe" stuck on the bathroom mirror for years now. Maybe you'd enjoy just looking around?"

"Are you crazy" his eyes got funny and he said something like. "The boat I want is the Supremo Numero-Uno blah-blah. Soon as I finish saving up 6,000 bucks for that baby I'm going to order right from the manufacturer. Custom. In silver. Yesiree. This loser store wouldn't carry something like THAT. And I'm sure not going near those sucker crowds."

"You're so darn negative and boring!" I retorted. "I happen to like crowds. They make me feel like I'm part of something. I promise I won't buy anything but I'm going to look around for fun anyways. You go for coffee and I'll meet you back here in half an hour."

"Don't make promises you can't keep, old girl." He chuckled in that self-satisfied "I'll believe it when I see it" way that always gets me riled. "I know you're going to come out of there with useless junk. You always do."

His words made me mad. How dare he accuse me of being frivolous! I prided myself on being a wise shopper. I had a darn good nose for bargains and stretched our old age pensions like nobody's business. Now I had a mad on, that's for sure. "Boy, I'll show him." I promised myself I would not buy a darn thing, no matter what. Ha! I wouldn't give Mr. Know-It-All smarty-pants reason to gloat.

I squared my chin and marched into the crowded store. Aisles and aisles of hockey equipment, basketballs, golf clubs, exercise equipment, fishing gear, boy toys galore were strung with huge blaring signs. CLOSING OUT SALE - Up to 80% OFF. NO REFUNDS.

Up and down the aisles I strolled, ducked and dodged, humming to myself and enjoying the frenetic energy and excitement of a sale.

All of a sudden, there, at the back of the store, in gleaming silver, full of lifejackets, paddles and fishing stuff, sat the exact canoe of my husband's picture. I gasped and blinked three times. Yup. It was still there. The Supremo Numero-Uno blah, blah. My heart beat wildly. I elbowed my way through the crowds, scrambled over junk in the aisles and darned near fell into the canoe looking for the price tag.

There it was - a little tattered, with the manufacturer's suggested retail price at $6,750 plus tax crossed out and a handwritten TO CLEAR $750 AS IS. NO RETURNS. Must be a mistake. $6000 off? Salesman. I had to talk to a salesman.

I spotted a young fellow with a "Hi. I'm Mathew" tag trying to hide out from the mob of bargain hunters. I clutched his sleeve. "Mathew. Tell me about this El Supremo canoe. What's wrong with it? Why is it only $750?"

"Oh. There's nothing wrong with it. It's brand new. We're closing the store is all. It's on clearance like everything else. I think that includes lifejackets, paddles and a bunch of fishing gear, too. I'll go check."

A few minutes later he came back and said, "I'm sorry ma'am. Someone made a mistake on the sale tag. It's supposed to be $4,750 for the whole package. I just talked to my Dad who is running the close-out. He said it was worth more than $8,000 regular price so it's still a real good deal."

I felt tears well up in my eyes. "Oh well", I said sadly. "Of course, it was too good to be true. This is exactly like my husband's dreamboat. I guess I started to dream myself when I saw that price tag. He's going to be 62 years old Friday. Had to retire early for his health. It's been hard on just the pension but the stubborn old fool has been saving $10 every week for years to buy one just like this. Just an old man's silly dream, you know. Always said he wanted to spend his retirement out fishing in a canoe," my voice trailed off and I turned and walked away.

I was already at the mall door when Mathew caught up with me. "Do you have $750 plus $25 for delivery and a bit more for tax, ma'am?" I gasped. "Yes. Yes. That's about all I have," I said as I thought fleetingly about the cataract surgery I was saving up for.

"Well then, you just have your husband sitting on the front porch on Friday morning around 10 o'clock so's he can be there when my Dad and I come to unload his new boat. We'll even put a bow on it for his birthday."

I started to cry. My old hand shook and I had to squint as I wrote out my cheque. Mathew swallowed hard.

"Ma'am. There's something you should know. This store was my Grampa's. He ran it for more than 30 years. He always promised to retire one day. Said he wanted to spend time relaxing and out fishing in a canoe. He ordered this one, custom, for himself last year but, well, just never took the time off to use it."

He swallowed even harder. "My Grampa died, sudden-like, just last week. He was only 68 years old. I think he'd be mighty happy that your husband will get this here canoe. My Dad thinks so too. You just have to make sure he uses it a lot, okay? Promise?"

I handed Mathew a Kleenex and we stood there together, quietly lost in our own thoughts for a moment, blowing our noses.

"I promise," I said as I dashed off to look for my dear sweet husband.

Copyright ©2000 Lorraine M. Gregoire. All Rights Reserved.

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July, 2000
Issue #51

1024 Words