Nearly two weeks ago now, during the garage sale, Greg came by for a visit. Jennifer and Michael and I were broiling in the morning sun, sweating. I was also visibly pinkening.
"What you need," Greg said, "is a hat. Yes. A sun hat. Or a pergola. I'm here to tell you what you need and that is a pergola."
I laughed, because it was really funny. But after Greg left, I turned to Jennifer and Michael.
"Do either of you know what a pergola is?"
"Nope," Michael said.
"Me neither," said J. "Should I look it up?"
Last Wednesday, during the crazy Bikini Expedition, Shelley and I walked over the bridge from the Rideau Centre to the Bay. We saw the perfect thing to shade us at the side of the house. We'd been talking umbrellas and gazebo-like things.
But no. On that bridge, we found exactly what we needed, and what we needed was a pergola.
A Suede Fiji 8'x12' Steel Pergola with Adjustable Top. For 40% off, no less.
Anyone who's spent any time talking to me lately know that I am not my most fun self right now. The details of all the changes going on right now are exhausting me.
There's a constant tickertape of stupidity running in the back of my brain that doesn't let up, so that even when I turn the lights out at 10, I toss and turn for 45 minutes thinking
Don't forget the bars you hang your mugs on. Don't forget to vacuum the ceiling. Don't forget to order the tin. When is the car coming? Will I have enough time to get a bank draft for the down payment? What does CT take in his coffee, I wonder? Cream, I think. I should get some of that before he gets here.
Surely, surely, I don't really need to be worrying about what CT might take in his coffee two and half weeks from now. Particularly since even should I forget to ask, or should I forget to buy whatever milk product it is after I have received his answer, I live less than a block away from 4 places that sell cartons of milk on Sunday mornings.
But there you go, my brain is in worry mode, and marshalling details mode.
Sadly, this is cutting short the disk space available for patience mode. Which is why, when it took me an hour to buy the pergola today, I came back to work nearly frothing.
When I got to the pergola today, not long after noon, there was a sign on it that obscured the price and description. "HOLD FOR JAN, JUL 24th."
Fuck fuck fuck, I thought. This must be the last one. They're holding the display model for Jan. Fuckity fuck. Ah well. What can you do. We'll find something else. But I'll just go ask the Person just in case.
There was no Person.
There was, however, a sign on the counter that said "Please take your purchases to Ladies' Shoes."
Now, maybe you're skimming this post a little, because it's long and I'm whining a lot, so maybe you missed the measurments, and maybe you missed the adjective. They bear repeating: 8' x 12'; steel.
Sit back for a moment and picture me dragging a steel pergola of that size through Ladies' Shoes. Yes, I laughed too.
But my heart sank at the same time I was laughing. Poor Ladies' Shoes Person. Really, I wanted to just take a tray and plastic cup set over to her. I would hand them over, I might have to explain the sign, she would ring them through, I would pay her, I would leave, we would both be richer in our respective ways.
But no, I didn't want to buy anything. Or rather, I only wanted to buy something after someone had de-riddled the mysterious Jan sign and answered my questions about shipping in a satisfactory manner.
Best case scenario, I figured, was that I would go over, make my request, and Ladies' Shoe Person would call the Bridge Person and we could proceed apace.
"Hi there. I have a question about the steel pergola over there."
"The pardon? Where?"
"The pergola. Over there."
"Oh, on the bridge." She looked visibly relieved. "You'll have to talk to the person over there."
"There is no person over there. There's a sign saying to come here."
"Really? A sign? To come here? Ummm, I don't usually work in this department. I'm from Ladies' Wear."
So, to recap. Ladies' Shoe Person, it turns out, is not even a Ladies' Shoe Person. She is really a Ladies' Wear Person filling in for a vacationing Ladies' Shoe Person. She didn't even know she might have to ring in a tray and plastic cup set from The Bridge.
"Okay. Hmm. There's also a sign on the pergola saying it's being held for Jan. Does that mean it's the last one?"
"Oh. Umm, I'm not sure."
Stand off. I kept quiet. I didn't go away.
"I can call someone?" She picked up the phone.
She was a valiant Stand-in Ladies' Shoe Person. She called about 5 people looking for information on the availability of the steel pergola.
I stood by the counter, eavesdropping and trying to relax the lines of frustration out of my face. Poor Ladies' Wear Person, I thought, she is having a bad day. If I am to be a thorn in her side, I will try to be the nicest thorn possible.
While I was waiting, I tried on a lot of shoes.
Eventually, Tania came with her walky talky and purposeful stride. Good, a Manager Person. She called a bunch of people too, but she knew the right people to call. First up, I believe, was HR.
"Where's the Bridge Person?"
"He what? During Power Hour? You're kidding. Okaaaay."
She turned to me. "He took a break! Because it's only the busiest time of day! But it's fine. I'll get you taken care of."
Next up: Downstairs.
"Yeah, the computer says we have 8 of these pergolas in stock."
"I don't know, it's a pergyula. Like an umbrella. But bigger. On stilts."
"No, not an umbrella. A perGOLa. Wait, lemme just give you the code."
"Okay, great. Could you put one on hold for me, for -" Her eyes on me. "Megan. Unh-huh. Yep. Megan."
She hung up.
I spoke first.
"It probably doesn't help that I'm asking about something I didn't even know existed until two weeks ago." My laugh was entirely fake, but they didn't know that. They both relaxed visibly. And Tania gave me $20 off shipping.
So thanks, Greg, I owe you a beer. With lots of froth.