My friend Dr L is not afraid to ask the Hard Questions that other people are too afraid to ask.
Such as why does the city I live in have a number of 24-hour florists within 100 metres of each other. She even made me drive past them so I couldn’t accuse her of making such stuff up – and lo, there they were. Not one, not two, but THREE 24- hour florists. One of them drive-thru, no less, so that you needn’t leave the comfort of your vehicle when purchasing a small fragrant nosegay at 3 o’clock in the morning.
“Well, maybe they sell something else other than flowers,” I suggested, thinking maybe milk, newspapers or kebabs. Dr L started nodding vigorously.
“Drugs!” she cried. “They must be selling drugs!!”
“You think?” I asked, somewhat overwhelmed by the ferocity of her allegations about a simple little flower stall.
“Don’t try tell me that the citizens of this fair city simply like to say it with flowers in the middle of the night,” Dr L continued. “Don’t try tell me that they’re not afraid to emote in a floral fashion shortly before the dawn…”
“Uh, perhaps it’s because the cemetery is close by?” I suggested meekly.
“And what time does that cemetery close?” she asked, smiling at me in a most unnerving manner. “5pm. FIVE PEEEEE EMMMMMM!”
Interestingly enough, there was also a grand total of THREE toy shops in the small country town KT and I visited last weekend – but not one of them 24-hour or even drive-thru. Not a single one. In fact, quite the opposite in the case of one of the shops, which – according to locals – was never ever open. Ever. In the front window was a telephone number for you to ring to summon the shopkeeper from his home but only if you could prove yourself to be either a “client” or a “serious buyer”. Apparently, when you rang, his first question was not “How can I help you?” or “How might I be of assistance?” but more “What are you going to buy and how much are you willing to spend?”.
Furthermore, legend had it that he didn’t like to have children in his shop, despite the inclusion of the words TOY and JOY in his shop’s name. I expect that there are many adult collectors in the world who would greatly treasure the precious things of this particular shop. But I’d guess that “slightly sad and possibly misplaced enthusiasm” probably doesn’t scan as well on a shop sign as JOY, wouldn’t you agree?
In any case, even if the shop was open more regularly, it would be a wonder if anyone could navigate their way past the signage. For one thing, there was a handwritten sign on the double front doors that stressed “NO PUSHERS” and was underlined a number of times to emphasise the point. And then, under that sign was another smaller sign that appeared to reiterate the point by saying “DO NOT PUSH!”. And then on the other door, there was one more sign that said “PUSH”. Mixed messages, I tells ya! And all far too confusing for someone like me who was looking at the world through a vodka and champagne-enhanced tension headache (see “The Headache Action Plan“).
So here we have two URPs (Unexplained Retail Phenomena) encountered within a few days of each other: a toy shop that is never (ever) open that wouldn’t admit prams even if it was open and a florist that is open 24-hours and cheerfully accommodates automated vehicles. The NDM is now accepting explanations, written plainly in 25 words or less, to account for either. For one thing, I’d like to give Dr L a satisfactory answer to her question before A) she returns to foreign shores and/or B) she is forced to take it to “Today Tonight”. Nasty!