CCONSIDERABLE has been said lately about the economy, and I have remained silent because I didn't want the politicians to get angry at me for butting in. It was, all the same, about a year ago that I became a keen student of the economy and began making notes to become an expert.
First, I needed some pants. Spring would be bursting joyfully forth in a few months, so I went to my haberdasher of many decades and I said, ``The bank will give me a little help, so make me up a care bundle. I need shorts, T-shirts, socks, couple pairs khaki pants, and some work shirts.''
``Righto!'' quoth he, ``and will there be anything else?''
``Eyah,'' I said, ``find me some gray trousers to go with my Harris Tweed, should the governor need me for tiffin.'' Thus the economy intruded and he said, ``Sorry, I'll have to order them in.''
For two months, I stepped in every Tuesday (we grocerize on Tuesdays) and he would shake his head. I said, ``Don't give up, and when you get them, give me a ring.'' ``Will do,'' he said. I still require the pants and am grateful the governor hasn't called. I saw my former haberdasher coming out of a store a week ago, and I called, ``Where are my pants?'' The vast throng waiting to get in looked me over when he replied, ``That's a good question.''
The incident of no-pants was followed by the adventure of no-grapefruit. Spouse asked me to step into the money-saving warehouse and get some grapefruit sections. The super-duper hasn't had them lately. The young lady picked up her mouthpiece and the vast storehouse resounded with a call for grapefruit.
I stood around about 20 minutes when a lad with a nest of robins in his hair approached to ask, ``Grapefruit sections?'' ``S'me!'' I responded. ``We ain't got none,'' he syntaxed in reply. ``I gotta order 'em in.''
``Do that,'' I said. ``Next week?'' After five weeks, I left the affair with my pants. They were to call me if and when. No grapefruit.
Next my typewriter ribbons. In 1928, I first bought ribbons from Sears, Roebuck. I think a ribbon cost 25 cents, and it would last until my editor thought the light bulb had dimmed. Now, being unaware that a new era had dawned, I stepped into the Sears store and said I'd like a dozen typewriter ribbons.
``Certainly,'' said Miss Lolabrigida, ``downstairs at the mail-order counter.'' At the mail-order counter, Madame Dufarge began making out blanks, and after a time looked up to say, ``How will you pay for this?'' I said, ``Promptly.''
She said, ``Do you have a charge card?''
``Yes, I do,'' I said.
``May I see it?'' she said.
``Why?'' I said. I reminded her that I had not yet received any ribbons, and when I did I would press the price into her palm. A week later, I got a printout from a Sears office in either Wyoming or Ethiopia saying that typewriter ribbons are no longer available, but I could get some from a local business-machine place. But before I could go back and thank anybody, the newspaper said the store was closing for want of customers. The economy.
I guess there's a little bit more. We have one of these big new Wal-nut stores, or some such thing, and when it opened I thought of my grandfather, who went in to get a free calendar the day Homer Metcalf opened his new hardware store. Gramp drove into the Farmers' Union, tied his horse to the fence, and walked up to Homer's new store. ``You won't last six months,'' he told Homer, ``less'n you put up some hitchin' posts.'' Today the economy needs more than hitchin' posts.
I wanted a clamp-on lamp that would grip a bookshelf and squirt down on my escritoire, and somebody said to go to Wal-nut. A liveried ostiary greeted me fervently, asked if he might offer some assistance, and as I gazed at the cavernous sales display, I said, ``Yes - I think I'm not about to venture into yonder unbounded periphery, if you will fetch me a clamp-on lamp.''
He brought my lamp, my personal check sufficed, and in maybe four minutes altogether I was on my way home. I have the lamp in place and it squirts down beautifully. It's altogether possible this addition will give me another three to six months on a typewriter ribbon. We'll see what the editor says. In the jolly meantime, I'm not so concerned over the economy as the politicians seem to think I should be. It used to be hitchin' posts, but whatever it is nowadays, somebody will think of it.