A Strange Day In Paradise

The opportunity clock woke me up at 7:30 this morning to a gloriously sunny day. Just seeing the brightness of a morning sun makes me jubilant. Temperature wise it was at freezing. Not bad as temperature goes because the wind was gentle. I had planned to accomplish two things: One was to buy a new Christmas tree and the second to do some Christmas shopping with my house mate. Of course the house mate was first in line. We toured Bed Bath and Beyond for bed sheets. I thought that the BBB would be the mecca of bed sheets, and to a degree it was. But their on shelf inventory is paltry compared to that of the internet. After wandering around feeling materials, reading labels, and rejecting colors we opted for the online option as a more favorable experience.

From the BBB I turned the Death Star toward the American Sales show room. Ever since I sold my old Christmas trees during the garage sales I have been thinking that someday I will be buying another tree. Even though I have brainwashed myself into believing that downsizing is the right thing to do. The urge to celebrate Christmas with festive colorful lights and poinsettias continues to grow within me.

American Sales specializes in selling decorative artificial Christmas trees. This year is no different except for one thing, they must have at least two hundred pre-lit artificial trees on display. As with all things product development over the years has improved the designs with myriads of new features to make the trees more desirable. Walking through the showroom was like walking through a forest where every tree is filled with tiny specs of light, white or multi colored, a veritable fairy land. I walked quickly through the tall trees since my goal was to find short small stature trees. At the very end of the showroom was a string of short trees sitting on a high shelf to make them appear taller and to better compete with their taller cousins around them. Seven of them stretched the length of this one aisle, and in the center was the one we chose. It was four and a half feet tall, forty-two inches in diameter, with LED lights that change colors ever so gently and discreetly. In years past the changing lights feature was a rather abrupt and sharp blink on and off, and somewhat aggravating to the viewer. This new feature had mesmerized me within a few seconds and I said yes, this is the one I want. To hell with down sizing, I’ll take this tree to the nursing home with me.

It was five minutes from the time of entry into the showroom to the point of deciding on a tree. I informed the sales agent of our decision and we waited, and waited, and waited for what seemed like an hour. The agent continued to call the stockroom and discuss progress. Evidently, this tree was a popular model and was selling off the floor quickly. The people in the stockroom were having trouble keeping up. After forty-five minutes the sales agent asked if we would like to go the warehouse in a an adjacent town to get it, it would be quicker. Since the warehouse was on the way home I agreed to do so. I paid for the tree before I left and off we drove to Tinley Park.

The building we arrived at was clearly three hundred feet long by three hundred feet wide, and filled to the ceiling with artificial trees all from China. Inside there was a window in a plain white wall behind which sat a young lady waiting for a customer to arrive. I showed her my ticket and she went off to have an assistant fetch the tree. When she returned she informed me to move my car up to the loading dock so the warehouseman could load the box into my car. I did. That is when time time stopped again, and we waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, I went back into the building and asked politely if they were ever going to bring me my tree. In the meantime dozens of other customers had been coming and going with their pickups.

Time marched on, and again I inquired. This time the chief warehouseman himself came to give me a progress report. He had looked at all the obvious places this number of product was normally stored but could not find any in stock, but he had three more locations to search. What else could I do but agree and sit down?

As I sat in the cubicle staring at the plain white wall my mind began to wander. I couldn’t believe so many people were out and about on a beautiful day like this and not be paying much attention to COVID-19, myself included. Of course everyone wore a mask and we distanced to the degree possible but it seemed like nobody really gave a crap about getting the virus. The day before when I checked the status of COVID in our county we had recorded over a thousand confirmed cases. Just a week earlier we were at under fifty cases. Boy it shot up fast. That is when the idea light went on above my brain and a new conspiracy theory came into mind. The entire country is suddenly finding itself peaking in cases after having dropped off to nearly nothing over the summer. Why would that happen? It didn’t take but a nano-second for me to conjure up a plausible theory.

China is still reeling from the Trump imposed tariffs on China made goods. What if in retaliation the Chinese decided to unleash another round of COVID within our country? What if the new strain was airborne and easily transported in the air? It could explain why the sudden surge of new cases has crippled our society and cause our governors to panic into a higher level of protection like closing restaurants, bars, non-essential businesses, and limiting the number of people in stores everywhere. If the new strain was airborne it could easily be spread using aircraft, and or people who opened canisters of virus in major population centers.

Thankfully, the warehouse man came to report that he could not locate a single box of the tree I bought. I had the sorry job to now report that the past hour we spent waiting for the tree was for naught. My partner was livid. The sweet thing that she is became a raging ogre of a Hulk like Darth Vader screaming and commanding justice. We drove back to the store. I for one just wanted to get a refund and go to lunch. She however wanted to come home with a trophy, the sample on display. She was ready to fight.

We took the elevator up to the artificial forest and as the door opened there stood our sales agent facing us waiting to get on. She never made it. I calmly explained the situation and asked for the display sample. She told me that while we were gone she had located some more inventory in the in-store stockroom. She walked us over to the display area where lo and behold there were six boxes all with the item number we were seeking. “I’ll have an agent bring this down and load it into your car,” she said. “Thank you” was my reply. Ten minutes later we were on our way to have lunch, but I’m sure China is still leaking virus into our air.

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