Thursday, April 10, 2014

Cuts Like a Knife

Bronchitis.  It's what's for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  At least it was for me when I returned from my business trip a couple weeks ago.  I was laid up in bed for days, coughing up a lung, shivering, sweating, and generally feeling run down.  A few days later my head started to clear up, I took a look in the mirror and noticed that the stubble on my face had taken over.  I reached for my travel bag and searched for my razor.  No dice.  Looked through my suitcase.  Not there.  So I called the friend I stayed with on the road, and he confirmed the razor was at their house.  Damn.

So I ventured out to find the identical razor so my existing cartridges would fit.  I went to my local RiteAid, which seemed like a good candidate to carry the Gillette Sensor Excel razor.  But after navigating my way through the labyrinth of aisles to the men's grooming section, I found only bare shelves.  All the razors were piled high into two nearby blue RiteAid shopping carts next to a RiteAid employee who was spraying some fragrantly toxic cleaning solution over the shelves.  She looked up from her spraying and said "Oh I'm so sorry, all the razors are here", pointing at the full carts.  The toxic aroma didn't allow me a moment to think of digging through the bins, and I high-tailed it out of there.

I continued on to Vons, CVS, and Walgreens in search of the elusive Gillette Sensor Excel razor.  None of these stores carried it. What they did carry were those razors that have no fewer than 5 blades in a cartridge.  Which reminded me of every SNL/MADtv skit ever created mocking 14 & 20 blade razors.  No need to be shaving with something the size of a hockey puck. Besides, every store put every single razor and box of cartridges behind a security barrier, so that a customer would then have to summon an employee just to ask questions.  No thanks.

Surrender was imminent when I pulled in to another CVS to buy whichever razor seemed the least ridiculous.  But this magical CVS stocked the Gillette Sensor Excel!  The search was over.  Except the razor was barricaded behind some security contraption.  Fortunately CVS had the good sense to place a big red button the size of a Staples EASY button nearby which read "REQUEST CUSTOMER ASSISTANCE".  I pressed the button, which momentarily interrupted the Bryan Adams song blaring throughout the store to announce "CUSTOMER ASSISTANCE REQUESTED IN SHAVING".  I had inadvertently pressed it twice, so it delivered the message two times in a row.  And then Bryan Adams came back on.  

I waited.  I didn't want to press the big red button again, but nobody was coming around to unlock my razor.  Another Bryan Adams song came on.  I pressed the red button.  "CUSTOMER ASSISTANCE REQUESTED IN SHAVING" boomed over the PA.  I began to feel like the test rat who presses a button repeatedly in order to get the cheese, or the chocolate, or the cocaine, or whatever.  I briefly thought about breaking the anti-theft device so I could get the hell out of there.  But an employee poked her head around the corner to tell me "I'll be right there, I just have to get the key."

She returned with the key and fumbled with the lock for a few moments before handing over the razor.  I told her "I had no idea these were such high-theft items."  She replied "Yep.  Gotta keep the homeless people from stealing them."  I nodded my head.  "Or else we'll have a lot of clean shaven homeless around" she joked.  I told her "Thank you" and walked toward the registers to make my purchase. 

On the way to the registers, I thought about how ironic it would be if I just walked out of there with the razor.  But I noticed the magnetic security sticker on the packaging, and I compulsively began peeling it away until a voice at the self-checkout startled me: "You can checkout over here."  I looked up and a CVS employee was waving at me, smiling.  I asked her "But this has a security thingy on it.  Can you take care of that?"  She waved me over, and swiped the razor over the scanner and put it in a bag.  Didn't even demagnetize it.  Those security swindlers.  And I was on my merry way to a clean face.