Have you returned any Christmas gifts yet?  You know, the ones that were too big, too small, too much to the liking of the person that gave it to you instead of your liking, the wrong pattern, the wrong brand, or a gift for which you exclaimed ‘You shouldn’t have’ and meant it.

I received a pair of pants that were too snug in the waist.   It’s not Santa’s fault.  He left the correct size under the tree, but forgot about the extra poundage I was destined to acquire beginning at the starting line known as Thanksgiving.    

I found myself standing in the return line waiting my turn to return.  There were two people in front of me.  The first was a pushy woman insisting that the blouse she was returning had never been worn.

“I’m telling you right now,” she exclaimed at the young sales girl whose name tag indicated she was Laura Lynn.  “I have not worn the thing.  I looked at the tag, saw it was not my size, and now I’m returning it.”

“But it’s stained,” Laura Lynn said as sweetly as one of the von Trapp kids bidding goodnight in song to the party guests.   

Stained was an understatement.  The blouse at one point was probably white.  Now it was somewhere between tan and mustard.  Maybe she hadn’t worn it, but that didn’t mean it hadn’t been used as a sweat rag by an entire rugby team throughout their 2018 season.

“I’ll have to get the manager,” Laura Lynn meekly replied.

“You do that, missy,” she venomously spat.  “And I’ll tell everyone how rude this store was and put you out of business.  My lawyer would love to get a hold of this story.”

Laura Lynn von Trapp took the soiled blouse, gave back the money, and Miss Congeniality walked away to likely purchase another blouse which she would later return after wearing it to a New Year’s gala she would insist she never attended.     

The next person in line was Dick Dastardly who demonstrated the demeanor of a diabolical Dickens’ character.      

“You need to take back this sweater,” he said glancing at his watch to impress upon Laura Lynn that he had better things to do than associate with lower class citizens working retail.

“Sir,” she said.  “I need a receipt as proof of purchase.”

“Look here,” he grunted.  “I received this sweater as a gift.  I hate it.  Here it is in front of you.  Obviously, someone purchased it.  That is your proof of purchase.”

“But sir—”

“You have two choices,” he demanded.  “You can take the sweater back and give me my money or I can speak to my lawyer and you’ll have no job tomorrow.”   

I had had enough. My Deputy Fife persona kicked in.

“Hey, buddy,” I intervened.  “There’s no reason to talk to her like that.”

“You stay out of it.  I’ll have your job too,” he squawked.  “I’ve got that kind of power.”

I wasn’t certain how powerful he was, but I was positive his breath could topple empires.  Sweet Laura Lynn pressed a few keys on the resister, opened the drawer, handed the patron $37.50 and Dastardly exited in a cloud of superiority.

“Don’t pay him any mind,” I consoled her.  “You’re doing a fine job.”

“What can I do for you?” she asked, oblivious of my chivalrous act.

“I need to return these pants,” I replied.  “I tried them on and they’re too tight.  I kept all the tags on them.  I’ve folded them and put the plastic clips and straight pins back in.  This is the original bag from the store and the receipt is taped to the outside.” 

I smiled as I was certain I had made her day.

“Well,” she said matter-of-fact.  “These pants were bought from the clearance sale rack.  Store policy clearly states anything purchased from the clearance sale rack cannot be returned.”

I was suddenly unclear about the clarity of a clearance sale rack. 

“But this makes no sense,” I responded.  “That one woman returned a dirty blouse and that obnoxious guy returned a sweater with no proof of purchase.” 

“It’s policy,” the now not-so-sweet Laura Lynn said emphatically without a hint of von Trapp in her voice.        

                At that, I took my neatly folded, plastic clipped, straight pinned pants and walked away.  Never to return.

Nothing would have pleased me more than to have witnessed a fender bender involving Miss Congeniality and Dick Dastardly in the parking lot.  Instead, they were long gone—probably off to lunch with their lawyers.  I drove away with a pair of pants that would fit me only after a year-long stint on a deserted island where I was forced to eat crickets, berries, and befriend a volleyball named Wilson.   

From over-bearing customers getting their way to innocent bystanders being hurt my someone else’s disregard, injustice seems to be everywhere.  But in reality, life is neither fair or unfair.  Life is life.  God breathed life into each and every one of us and it is up to us how we go about jumping through the hoops and over the hurdles.  We must learn something from the minor scrapes to the heartbreaking losses.  If we don’t, it’s all for naught.   

You might think your life is too big, too small, too much to the liking of the person who gave it to you instead of your liking, the wrong pattern, or the wrong brand.  If so, you might want to rethink your stance. 

Make 2019 the year you start appreciating what you were given.  Step away from all the unappreciative shoppers and all the injustice.  Accept the incredible gift of life you have been given and enjoy it.        

After all, like my pair of pants, it can’t be returned.  

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