Buying a picture frame

Saturday afternoon. We are in Leiderdorp, and my girlfriend suggests going to the discount store around the corner. The bustle in the store is reminiscent of the bustle in Oxford Street just before Christmas. There is even a queue for the shopping carts. After my girlfriend gets her hands on one, her hunt through the bargain jungle begins. I follow her like a well-trained dog follows its owner. With firm steps, she routinely meanders through the crowded aisles. Every now and then, she takes a shortcut, like a guinea pig zigzagging looking for the liberating gate. I do not lose sight of her for a moment in the hustle and bustle. Every time she stops to inspect an item, I also stop, and patiently wait for her to resume her walk.

“You were looking for a picture frame, weren’t you?” she suddenly says.

“Yes. Why?”

“Look.” She points to the store shelf. “Wooden picture frame €9.95,” it says. The picture frame is not ugly, but not beautiful, either. I hesitate. If I take it, I save myself a visit to another store. That is worth something, too. This is how I negotiate with myself in my mind. As a result, I decide to buy it.

We join the line for the checkout. The boy in front of us, with a perfectly groomed hipster beard and reflective sunglasses on his tightly coiffed hair, is standing there with the same picture frame. Before him stands a man in his seventies with a rebellious tuft of curly gray hair. He casts a stern look behind his glasses at the boy’s picture frame. “I also bought one of these this week. You must be careful with them because they are quite fragile.” The guy looks at the picture frame: “Oh. Good of you to say so.” He exchanges a quick glance with his girlfriend as if they were checking each other: “Are we doing it or not?” They do.

I do too.

Sunday afternoon. I am at HEMA in my hometown to buy a new picture frame.

Frans Reichardt | The Customer Listener

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