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There was a time in my life when I would stick a broken product or something that wasn’t the right size in the basement or garage instead of going through the hassle of returning it. However, these days we don’t have a basement or a garage (or a closet) AND we have two upwardly mobile college tuitions, three rents, three and a half food budgets (a recent college graduate that needs a little help making ends meet – if he wasn’t going to the Middle East in March, I’d probably be a little more stingy because he’s the one with a pot holder and a sauce pan and we are using socks – thanks Michelle – and a wok), and one pesky mortgage for our  storage house in Lake Tahoe (anyone want to buy a house?). Plus we just funded Mr. _______’s next trip to Europe, so . . .  we are taking stuff back today.

A couple of the returns are straightforward: an electric razor that never worked and a set of shelves that were the wrong size, but the floor lamp is a little if-fy. The floor lamp was a “final sale” because Tony bartered for it (another new skill we have developed – yesterday I tried to barter for T-bone steaks because they were half the price at another store – I ended up going to the other store – apparently butchers don’t barter).

I put make-up on, sort of combed my hair (ponytail instead of ponytail knot), and chose an outfit that looks like I might belong in a mall (no holes along the inseam). My thinking is the salesperson will be more receptive if I look like one of the other well coiffed woman from Marin County walking around the mall (which is literally impossible because I’m not young, I don’t have long, smooth, tan legs, I don’t have any pretty shoes just flip flops and dirty yellow running shoes, my jewelry consists of a strip of white medical tape around a broken toe and heart earrings, and I’m fat. There is no chance I will ever morph from my K-Mart look into a Town and Country persona; the best I can hope for is to blend in at the farmer’s market). Tony wore his best Cal Bears t-shirt.

As we drove to the first mall, Tony and I practiced what we would say. I think we need to stop practicing stuff because it never goes how we plan and we always end up saying the things we swear we’ll never say, “You’re going to rot in hell, Mr. _____!” – we didn’t really say that, but we did call him a “greedy liar” which was not in the rehearsal script.

As it turns out we never had a chance to explain that the lamp was broken before the dog knocked it over . . . .

Mall 1: Final sale floor lamp:
Tony: Hello, we bought this lamp here and it is broken.
Salesperson:  I’m so sorry, I will let the owner know. Let me pull that up in the computer so we can credit your account. Done. Once again, I am very sorry.

Mall 2: The electric razor – cash back – no questions asked.

Mall 3: The shelving unit:
Salesperson: I’ve decided to take 15% off the original price for your inconvenience.

This was so much easier than returning a drug infested, vomit filled, smoky, bedless dorm room. The whole process only took 30 minutes (mostly because I have finally figured out what lane I should be in and didn’t have to make any U-turns). With the extra time and money we drove to the beach and had a picnic.