Saturday, November 17, 2007

Some People Will Do Anything for a Discount

My Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Terry (O'Malley) arrived here for a visit yesterday. It's great to have guests and it's the first time that members of my family have visited Ciszek Hall.

I'm certainly proud of Fordham University and it was my great pleasure to give my aunt and uncle a tour of the campus. I rehearsed the history of some of the buildings and then, toward the end of our tour, we made the obligatory stop at the bookstore. Cheryl busied herself with shopping for sweatpants (for Sarah) and a hooded sweatshirt (for Bridgid). As anyone knows, such paraphernalia can be quite expensive.

So as we were walking to the checkout counter, I had an uneasy feeling that Cheryl was crafting an intricate plan to save money on her purchase. Would she claim that was purchasing these items for poor starving children? Would she suggest to the cashier that as the mother of two sons who graduated from a Jesuit high school or as the aunt of a Jesuit that she deserved some reduction in price?

No, Cheryl's ploy was much darker. Indeed, as we approached the counter I stepped forward, eying several candy bars and thinking that I might like to avail myself of a York Peppermint Patty. I was so excited about the prospect of a minty treat, however, that I momentarily forgot that Cheryl was plotting - and now enacting - her devious scheme.

So while my attention was diverted and with only six feet separating her from the cashier, Cheryl "trips" over some unseen thing and falls face first to the ground. Splayed out like a bear-skin rug, the eyes of all turned toward her. Moaning softly about her pains and the injury done to her "bad knee" she grasped the arm of her bemused husband and stood up. Then with a limp even Tiny Tim couldn't emulate she hobbled toward the counter and began the transaction. The wily Cheryl said nothing - her fall was so perfect, so calculated, so complete that she knew a discount awaited her. As she scanned the sweatshirt, the properly unnerved cashier made eye-contact with Cheryl and informed her that she'd taken an extra 20% off of the purchase, all on account of Cheryl's fall. Cheryl thanked her, of course, and then as we left the bookstore I could hear her mutter something about a lawsuit and owning the university in light of this tragedy.

The rest of the evening was spent listening to her recount the sorrows of the day. What began as a simple trip-and-fall soon evolved into an epic saga akin to the Fall of the Berlin Wall. God knows that by the end of the night she was beginning to craft a ballad or epic poem like Beowulf to capture the sheer enormity of the event.

So that was day one. I just sent them into the city where they will meet a friend for brunch and I'll try to catch up with them this afternoon. It was so gratifying to see her limp down Fordham road, bravely walking on her maimed and crippled knee, barely complaining to anyone. But her silent suffering must not go unnoticed, hence my obligation to post about her trials. For Cheryl is a true martyr (to saving money) and her story must be told, her example must be followed by all those wishing to realize in this lifetime a discount for an overpriced hooded sweatshirt.
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