Second chances

.. some time ago (I) decided never to get ripped off again just because I look like a naïve guiri...

My wife's birthday is on a holiday, so if I want to send a surprise bunch of flowers to her place of work, it has to arrive the day before. Not that I've done that before, but it is what I decided to do this year, in order to, in the translated words of my local florist, “make her go red in front of her work colleagues”. So I went down two days before my wife's birthday and ordered a bouquet to be delivered for the following day. It would cost me nine additional euros to have them delivered, I was informed, and I accepted, happy in the knowledge that she would love the idea of receiving flowers at work. I handed over the amount in cash, which was a euro more than the bouquet the florist had shown me in the catalogue. She gave me a receipt and confirmed the delivery place and time. But she didn't give me any change. Despite an English part of me urging me to walk away “it's only a euro and nothing to get uptight about”, the voice in my head said, “especially given the amount you've just handed over”, another part of me that some time ago decided never to get ripped off again just because I look like a naïve guiri stopped me in my tracks and asked for the euro change, difficult though it was. The florist's response to my request was “Well, I can make the bouquet as big or small as you like”. Now this threw me a little bit, because the price of the bouquet she'd shown me in the catalogue was a specific one, and a euro less than what I'd given her. We exchanged bemused looks until she gave me the euro change.

I left the shop with a growing sense of annoyance at what had transpired. My less generous side was starting to formulate reasons as to why she would say that when I'd just spent quite a lot of money in her shop, amounting as it did to a threat to make not quite such a nice bouquet. By the time I returned to my desk, that less generous side was saying, “That kind of behaviour is why Catalans have a reputation as penny pinchers. I've bought something and been left with a bad feeling about it”. Then I started asking myself if it was actually me over-reacting. And so the battle in my head went on for most of the afternoon, even distracting me from my work, until my wife returned home and reminded me she didn't have to work the next day, as her school had taken an optional day's holiday. I rushed out of the door and down to the florist's to cancel the delivery. Nodding as I explained the situation, she replied, “That's nice, it means I can make her a nicer bouquet with the money saved from the delivery”. And all my uncharitable thoughts disappeared in an instant.

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