“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
I don’t know if I’ve become pessimistic or realistic (I’m leaning towards the latter) but I’ve learned not to assume I’m being told the absolute truth and nothing but the truth by seemingly well-meaning individuals (and sometimes not well-meaning). Eventually, with a little more interrogation, you’ll get to the truth. But you have to get past a few layers of vague, indirect responses before you get there.
It all started when we first moved overseas and we were trying to rebuild our collection of household items. Everything from a broom to furniture. An overwhelming task, to say the least. I had an ongoing list of items that needed to be purchased. I even had to list them in order of importance so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed with the amount of things we had to look for in the stores.
After hiring a house keeper, I knew it was time to purchase an iron. I don’t iron but it’s a very common chore here. Everything gets ironed…even the underwear. I wasn’t in the market for anything fancy but I also didn’t want something that could potentially break or be a fire hazard within a couple months of purchasing it. I went to a store and came across a iron on display that seemed to fit all my requirements. The next step, ask the employee for some help finding the boxed up version.
Me: “Could you help me find this iron? I want to buy it.”
Employee: “Sorry ma’am, it’s out of stock right now.”
Me: “When will it be in stock?”
Employee: “Maybe next week…”
Me: “Ok, great. Thanks. I’ll come back next week then.”
Fast forward one week.
Me: “Yes, I was here last week and an employee told me this iron would be in stock. Do you have it?
Employee: “No, it’s out of stock right now.”
Me: “Interesting…will you be ordering more soon?”
Employee: “There might be more when the delivery truck comes.”
Me: “When will the delivery truck come?”
Employee: “Next week.”
Me: (insert skeptical face) “I see…”
Fast forward another week.
Me: “This iron, is it in stock yet?”
Employee: “No, it’s out of stock.”
Me: “Yes, I see that. You have a sign that says that. I want to buy one. When will you have more?”
Employee: “We aren’t selling those anymore.”
Me: “Um, ok… But you have a display?”
Employee: “We used to sell this iron and this was its display.”
Me: “Ok, so can I just buy the display?”
Employee: “No, you can’t.”
Me: “I can’t? But you don’t plan on ordering more of these, right?”
Me: “But…you…why do you need this display?”
Employee: “It’s a display. It’s not for sale.”
I’m pretty sure that display had already been sitting on the shelf without any accompanying boxes long before I saw it. Everyone I spoke to knew that but I foolishly kept coming back expecting to see a shelf of restocked boxes below the display. It’s just that no one wanted to be the bearer of bad news. Just tell the nice foreign lady something to make her happy but also keep her away for another week and hope that a new employee can deal with her next time.
This same thing holds true for items listed on menus that never seem to be available. Newspaper reports of rolling blackouts ending “next month”…ok maybe the next month…ok maybe next year. Waiting on important documents to be processed and being told it will all be ready “soon”.
Looking on the bright side, one can learn a lot of things through these experiences. Patience. Endurance. Discernment. And isn’t it nice when, one day, the unexpected happens and you’re told something that seems too good to be true and it actually IS true?
Like the one time I hesitantly asked if I could purchase the display of a little children’s table that was no longer being stocked and the employee answered, “yes, you can.” Oh happy day 🙂