I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve gotta tell you, I’m a VERY good procrastinator. If I have a deadline for something next week, you can bet your last dollar that I’ll get to work on it—next week.
And so it was that one day a few years ago, I was down to the wire to get a birthday gift for a family member. And by “down to the wire,” I mean, I was shopping that afternoon for the gift to give that evening.
Actually, that’s not a big problem, though. I feel like birthday shopping doesn’t necessarily have to be hard if you just keep in mind that the best birthday present is something that you would want to receive yourself. For me, that would be a book that someone thought I would like, or a bottle of something they thought I might like drinking. (If, um, you’re wondering, in my case that would be gin or rye whiskey. Or perhaps tequila.)
So my go-to for buying last-minute birthday gifts is usually the bookstore. And on that fine, sunny afternoon, I got in the car and headed for the nearest Barnes & Noble to do my shopping.
Ordinarily I would do my book-shopping on Amazon. I’m a big Amazon fan, with the lower prices, the huge selection and the free shipping for Prime members. But, as mentioned above, it was a little late to be Amazon-shopping for this birthday.
But I was halfway to the bookstore when I was struck by a bout of anxiety. Unfortunately, my Amazon fandom extends to my wallet, where I carry an Amazon-branded credit card. You know, the kind where you spend money with it, and you get a percentage of that money back in Amazon gift certificates. A tiny percentage, to be sure, but still, it lets me buy more stuff there.
At that time, the Amazon card was the only credit card in my wallet. Hence, my anxiety: I know that Amazon’s not popular with bookstore types, even large-national-chain bookstores-like-Barnes-&-Noble types. The internet company has—rightly or wrongly (mostly rightly, I guess)—been blamed for driving a lot of smaller bookstores out of business. And it is most definitely the main competition for Barnes & Noble. So how was it going to look when I presented my purchase to the Barnes & Noble cashier, and then handed over my credit card emblazoned with the logo of Barnes & Noble’s hated competitor? I could picture the look I would get from the cashier, probably clinging to his job anyway, and here I am shoving in his face the very symbol of the chief antagonist of not only his employer, but of probably everything he holds dear. If it were a restaurant and he were my waiter, he would justifiably spit in my soup before he brought it to me.
So I knew, as I was driving, that it wasn’t going to be pleasant shopping experience. And my anxiety over the looming credit card fracas was going to hang over me the whole time I was in the store, clouding my ability to pick out the perfect birthday gift.
As it turned out, however, it wasn’t a problem. As I steered my car into the parking lot, I discovered that that Barnes & Noble location had gone out of business.
I can’t remember for sure, but I suppose I went from there to a liquor store. As far as I know, I haven’t shut any of those down yet.