The Shopping Trip: Cutting Table Wars
Image of fabrics from The Best Fabric Stores in Toronto posted by Alice Prendergast
Last week a friend asked me if I'd written any essays lately. I replied that I hadn't in quite some time. I explained that I just haven't been doing anything of interest, perhaps, in part, because I don't seem to get out as much as I once did. Staying home where life is quiet doesn't offer much opportunity for stimulating escapades. Although there are definitely days when I wished I'd stayed at home.
My other obstacle is procrastination, which tends to get the better of me when an idea is still in its infancy. So this time I've decided to (gingerly) sit down and commit things to paper while it’s still 'breaking news'. So to speak. And by that I mean the bruises are still surfacing and the over-the-counter pain reliever hasn't entered my bloodstream yet.
It was anticipated to be a simple errand. I merely needed two yards of red cording from the fabric store and was standing near the cutting table waiting my turn. I had already yanked a paper tag from the machine next to the counter; I was now officially Guest #71. A quick glance at the electronic board overhead informed me that the employee was currently serving #68. If you have spent any time at all in a fabric store, you know that the difference between 71 and 68 is not 3. While the arithmetic may only represent three customers, it's what's in the shopping cart that counts.
Just in case you have never personally experienced the 'cutting table wait', the odds are that no matter how many people are ahead of you, the person who is buying a shopping cart filled to capacity with quilting fabric will have edged ahead of you by a nanosecond. You will end up cursing yourself for wasting that extra minute after getting distracted by a sale on yarn, a special on notions, or some other devious merchandise display.
Quilters. I truly have a soft spot in my heart for them, because I enjoy that hobby, too. They are often planning an exceptionally special project as a heartfelt gift. Regardless, I still don’t want to be the one who is standing in line behind them.
That is where I found myself today, of course. I had selected my cording (probably spent too long trying to decide between two different styles), and one piece of fabric. It always physically aggravates my feet, legs and back to just stand immobile in one place for long periods of time, so I wandered around a bit, keeping a close eye on the number board so I wouldn't miss my turn.
The woman who had #70 got called and she appeared out from between the aisles with a cart stacked precariously with bolts of fabric. I'm not certain, but I think I may have actually groaned out loud. I leaned forward on my cart and silently hoped a second employee would appear, scissors in hand, and call me to the other end of the counter. No sooner had that thought popped into my mind than the store manager announced on the loudspeakers, "All available employees needed as the registers, please." Right. That’s the other unwritten law of the fabric store. If you are waiting at the cutting table, all the extra employees will be summoned to the cash registers; and as soon as you get your fabric cut and hustle over to the front of the store, the employees will be ordered to the cutting table. It never fails.
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