I was dining in at my local coffee house the other day— which, as a rule, I hate to do. It’s crowded, the tables wobble and the chairs are unaccepting (a word I just made up). On this particular day, however, I had fifteen minutes to kill and a hankering for day-old bagel.
The walls of this coffee house are saturated with flyers. Virtually every square inch of the walls are covered with adverts for advanced yoga classes, notices of rooms for rent, and various notices of performances, political rallies and pets on the lam. I scanned the walls as I gnawed on my bagel, relieved to see that there were far worse spellers in the world than myself (for the world is one big spelling bee to me). Then I saw this:
Read it again.
My mind stopped. “This can’t be real,” I thought and even now I’m unsure. The “what a deal!” pun still seems too good to be true. For the sake of this entry, I ask you, dear reader, to play along with me and assume that this person was 100% dead serious about this offer.
Let’s start with the flyer itself. As I snatched it from the wall the first thing I noticed was it was written, with a Sharpie marker, on the back of another flyer for a dog walking service. This implies the person who wrote it is either rude, someone prone to rushed split second decisions or someone in an emergency situation who needed that fifty cents as soon as possible.
Breaking down the page elements from top to bottom, we begin with:
A bit cliché, but it is to the point. “What a deal!” I’ve already discussed so let’s move on to the meat:
ONE DECK OF PINOCHLE CARDS - SLIGHTLY USED
Everything sounds dandy until you reach the “slightly used” portion— a frustratingly vague description given the dubious mental state of the seller. Do they mean the cards have been shuffled once or twice or that they were discovered abandoned at a bus stop with three cards missing? This is followed by a rather nicely placed illustration of four playing cards or perhaps one very large card perched atop three pop tarts. Then in bold:
A fair asking price followed by...
OR BEST OFFER
...written with a different pen— almost as an afterthought.
My that is a deal! Why just compare the asking price and the regular retail price. It’s less than a quarter of the price— a strong selling point. Now here’s a peach:
GREAT FOR SOMEONE WHO LIKES PINOCHLE!!
We can extrapolate three things from this exclamation: The person selling the cards does not like pinochle; you, the reader, do not necessarily like pinochle but may know someone who does; and finally, someone who likes pinochle would love a deck of slightly used pinochle cards which are specifically designed for pinochle. The seller is hoping a thought will pop in your mind such as, “Hey, those would make a pretty good gift!” or "Someone who likes pinochle? Why that's me with two exclamation points!!"
And finally at the bottom there are two, two, tear tabs so that any interested party may have a reference and contact information to arrange for the sale. We can also infer that the seller suspects there may be competing bids for the deck.
What are we to make of this purveyor of pinochle? I’m guessing, like many of us, he needed a deck of cards for his daily rounds of solitaire (since his computer was in the shop). With the same rushed excitement that he composed this flyer, he mistakenly grabbed the wrong deck of cards at the local pharmacy or convenience store. We’ve all done it. We missed the little label at the bottom reading: “pinochle.” Some have left them on a dusty shelf to explore at some future or fictitious date; others have simply thrown them out; but not our mystery dealer. He opened those cards, realized his folly and thought, “Oh crap! How am I going to unload these pinochle cards?” For days it dogged him. The cards were already open and could never be returned. He’ll never see that money again. Then one day he goes to pay for his usual cup of coffee and finds himself short. O the injustice! Enough! It’s time to cut his losses. Grabbing the nearest piece of paper he can find, he puts his offer to paper.
Then the day arrives he finally gets the call.
”Yes I’m calling in regards to a flyer that was posted at the local coffee shop.”
“The pinochle cards?”
“Yes. Are they still available?”
“Indeed they are.”
“Well I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t in the market for a pack of pinochle cards but I saw your flyer and thought it would make a great birthday present for my father in law— he likes pinochle.”
“Oh he does? These would be perfect!”
“I realize that the going rate for pinochle decks in finer retail locations can be upwards of two dollars to two dollars and twenty cents or so. Your asking price is quite fair.”
“They are quite a deal.”
“Yes, but you see, I’m on a limited budget and I couldn’t afford the full fifty cents.”
“Seeing as the cards are slightly used, could you see your way to letting them go for say... forty three cents?”
“Well, I suppose so.”
“Wonderful. Now when should we arrange to meet?”
“Shall we say tomorrow at the coffee house?”
“I’m afraid I’m busy throughout the week. Besides I need to wait for my paycheck to go through before I could make a payment. How about a week from Thursday at noon.”
“ I have a doctors appointment that day I’m afraid.”
“Drat. How about that following Friday?”
“That would be fine. I will say that if a get a better offer between now and then I’ll have to take it.”
“Of course but I’d like to make a counter offer if it comes to it.”
“Your number came up on my cell phone so I’ll be sure to get in touch.”
“Marvelous. If not I’ll see you at the coffee house two Fridays from today. Look for me. I’ll be shirtless with torn corduroy pants and flip-flops.”
“Sounds great. Bye until then.”
O the world hath many splendors! Thank you for reading this nonsense.