Tuesday, January 16, 2007

This Just in...Winter


This just in...
"This just in...reports from the Centre of the Universe indicate strange white flakes in crystalline form falling from the sky and accumulating on the ground. The air is incredibly cold, the wind biting and all leading indicators point to a seismic seasonal shift toward what some experts are now calling "Winter". Confused residents of COTU (Centre of the Universe) can be seen wandering with their collars upturned and their hands in their pockets after having given away all of their hats and gloves. Still other citizens have been spotted sitting in their cars, bewildered by spinning tires and frosted windscreens unsure of why their forward has stopped."

Well, it's not THAT bad, but winter has finally arrived in the Big Smoke. It is cold today. Nose-nipping, toe-biting, bone-rattling, teeth-chattering kind of cold. -20°C may not break records but going from +5 to -20 would shock anyone's system.

As I sat inside looking out upon the sunny scenes I thought I would get some fresh air so I perambulated the high street thinking only of the charitable act of leaving some never-worn vestments at the local Goodwill proprietor. Early moments on, I thought, "Goodness, such a cold day we have not known in this year." I was also thinking that I would eventually acclimatize. Several more moments passed when the belief that I would ever grow accustomed to this weather quickly evaporated. I briskly walked into the Goodwill, dropped off my wares (is it poor form to donate old clothing in an "H&M" bag?) and decided to peruse for any potential "Antiques Roadshow" treasures. It was not to be. Such sad artifacts and curios did I see there, as to compel me to write this.

There were so many unwanted books. Many were of the Author's Name as Title Genre (John Grisham, Danielle Steele, Dick Francis, Stephen King are all examples. You know you've really struck it rich when your name is larger than the title of the book, rendering all content inconsequential). Books on diets (oh Dr. Atkins, you have fallen in the bin with everyone else), finding the colour of your escape hatch, determining your potential, chicken soup for the soul/ country soul/ city soul/ single soul and married soul, Oracle, C++, Java and HTML, Word, and accelerating your Excel. Housewares, mostly broken, all grimy, many with important messages such as "World's Greatest...skier, Grandma, Dad, teacher, Lover" or "Number 1...something or other". Discarded pictures of Jesus, the Pope (JP2), and faded singers of uniquely coiffed hair (though no Elvis - perhaps they were the discards of a previous generation). Stored amongst the picture frames are the vinyl records. These fall into several categories. The most obvious ones are from recently deceased, interred or institutionalized individuals. Albums of singers gone by, showing by their distressed edges, how often or little they were played, are mixed amongst records discarded simply by their date, style or genre (yes, I refer to all the Spandau Ballet admirers who came to realize far too late their mistake and should refrain from publicly listening to their current music choices which are probably as equally inane as their choices from over twenty years ago). Then there are the rows and rows of clothing, hung without care, little laundering, absolutely no pressing on sad little wire hangers - even plastic hangers have more grace.

It is evident from the smell of this Goodwill "Outlet" that the people who work/volunteer there dislike it as much as those patrons who frequent it. That's not to say all Goodwill shops are sub-standard, but this one, with it's ugly plastic "drop-off" bins in the front is one of the sadder ones I've been to recently. If you want to move product, there are probably a few things you could do to improve this retail environment.
  • Try renaming your "Drop-off" bin, to the "Donation Centre" or the "Charity Chest". Also, try using professional lettering rather than large, poorly scribed, hand-written text in black marker.
  • Sweep or vacuum at least once a decade.
  • Try an air purifier, smelly candle, aromatherapy, activated charcoal or anything that might neutralize the smell of wet cardboard meets body odor.
  • Remove fallen items from the floor, particularly glass wares.
  • "Reduce, Reuse and Recycle" such items as empty record jackets, broken teapots, electronic appliances held together with duct tape, elastic bands or galvanized deck nails.

The unfortunate reality is they don't have to bother, as the Goodwill is really the lowest rung of retail, wherein avid collectors scour, buy, wash, scrub, re-package and re-sell found pieces of value at greatly increased prices to be sold in their own store, which has a clean floor, charming lighting and smells vaguely of a vanilla-lavender scented sachets.

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