shopping adventure

Yesterday was the 4th of july. I celebrated it by doing something VERY american.
I waited in line until a store opened first thing in the morning to buy cheap, chinese-made stuff I didn’t need with money I didn’t have.
Then I laid around my house and binge-watched an entire season of a show on Netflix.

I’ll unpack that in case the explanation isn’t enough.

Brief history of the situation. I’ve bought a motorcycle. This bike is about 600 miles away from here, and it’s not comfortable enough to ride the distance back. So I’d prefer to trailer it. I’ve also got a bike in a shop a similar distance away that doesn’t run, so it will have to be trailered home. Should be closer to running when they’re done, but dropped it off with no gas tank or seat(i have them), so can’t ride it home. I also have some big junk that I need to get to a landfill, so a general-purpose trailer makes sense to buy.
I looked on craigslist for trailers, and even cheap ones are about $500, but where to store one? I can’t get it through the fence into my backyard and HOA says it can’t be visible.
Then I noticed a post for a used Harbor Freight folding trailer. I thought that would be perfect. I could roll it to the backyard of stand it up in the corner of the garage. It never occurred to me that they’d sell such a thing. I check their website and find a coupon for this trailer for $350. That’s a decent price. And of course on the 4th of july they had a lot of other good deals on stuff.

I borrowed an extra $1000 on the bike purchase to cover getting it home. Either having it shipped or trying to ride it home or whatever that would be. Trailer is going to be generally useful long-term, so that’s the way I’m going.

I call the local HF store to see if they have one. Nope. Ask them to check nearby other stores. Has to be a dozen of them in houston. After a brief hold, they give me the rundown of every store in houston that shows any stock. I ask them to repeat it slower so I can write it down. Then I call the next-closest store with listed stock to confirm they have it and ask if they’ll hold it for me. They tell me they don’t do that. Ok, fine. Doesn’t hurt to ask. And I can be at the store when they open. So I wake up early on the holiday, drag my wife out of bed and we get there 15 min before the posted opening time. I get a little nervous when almost a dozen other ppl group up with us in front of the store, and then get a little impatient when 8AM comes and goes. 10 min or so after, a girl opens the door to tell us she can’t open because her employee didn’t show but is now on the way. Then hangs up a sign saying on the door saying delayed open 9AM. Ok, its estimated 15 min travel time to the next-closest store. The one which was listed as having 2 of the trailer I wanted.
So back into the car we go, and drive to that store. Traffic is fortunately light, and the store is not heavily populated when we get there. In fact, I’m not 10 steps inside before an employee asks if I need help finding anything. I say “thank you, and yes I do. I need this item. I think you have 2 in stock.”
She says “Yes, I do. But I can’t sell them. One of the boxes is missing on both of them.”
It’s a big item and comes in multiple boxes. Ok then. Then she gets on the phone to the other HF stores in the area to ask for a ‘physical stock check.’ I had no idea this was a thing. Because the computer counts the ‘display model’ as a stock item, and indeed did count her incomplete items as present in the store, a physical check would clarify if the item was actually present and sellable. 20 min she was on the phone. or Phones, using her personal cell as well as the store line to wait on hold with multiple stores at once until she found a proper in-stock item at another store. Listed with some damage to the box. Fine with me. I’ll at least go check and see how bad it is, but probably won’t be bad enough that I can’t use it.
So now we drive to the third HF store of the day and I ask an attendant inside for the item. He says to me “I don’t think we have this.” At this point, I’m getting a little annoyed. But I don’t show it. Or at least I try not to. I find no justification for being rude to retail employees. So I ask “are you sure? We just called to get a physical stock check on this item. Could you check. I was told the box is damaged if that helps you find it.”
He goes back and returns in a few minutes, offering to show me the damaged box and make sure I want it before he brings it out front. The box is shredded. I don’t know how that happens to a cardboard box, but the metal beams inside look ok. This really should have been packed in a wooden crate. I say its fine and ask it to be brought out. Then go and gather the other things I wanted. Spare tire, wheel chocks, etc.
We go to the front to check out, and there’s only one cashier. She says she’d have to wait until the senior cashier arrives since she has no idea how to sell a trailer. It is a fairly complicated process as I later observed.
The experienced cashier gets back and helps her ring is up. While turned away from her own station to help, the custmer on that said very rudly interrupted her saying that she had a lot of people in line. Cashier calmly exlpains that she is helping a new employee with a complicated process.

aside: How does a person get so self-centered? Its obvious that she is helping a new employee with a customer buying a lot of stuff. More stuff than he is buying, so obviously of more interest to the company. And I’d been in line and at the register longer than he had, so even aside from the company’s fiscal interest in a whale vs a minnow, I have the prior claim to check out. First come-first served. Definetly a top-teir entitled asshole, that guy.

And I had a 25% off coupon from HF’s email list. I tried to use that on the trailer, but the system did not accept it. Appearantly, the fine print says coupons aren’t valid on trailers. No matter, I’d seen another coupon to take $100 off the trailer specifically. I had it on my phone, or at least I thought I did. I open the page, then search ‘trailer’ but no dice. While waiting for some more paperwork to complete on the trailer, I scroll manually. FOUND IT. it had the word “trailer” in the picture only. Saved myself $100 right there.
Tip for using coupons: Screenshot, screenshot, screenshot. ‘Pics or it didn’t happen’ is like super-real in the coupon game. Or print them out.

So, mission accomplished. Maybe its a stretch to say its stuff I didn’t need. I mean there is an alternate way to retrieve a bike(ride yourself you lazy fool!), but I have no better way to move big sheets of plywood or drywall, or haul junk to the landfill.

Then of course, season 3 of Stranger Things. Amazing as usual. Binge-watching is a bad way to consume media, but it was nice to just lay inert and vegetate for the rest of the day.