The other day I was in Jo-Ann Fabrics. I purchased a spool of gold ribbon. I took my ribbon to the counter where fabric is measured and cut. The two employees behind the counter were both helping other customers. As they did, I eyed the orange-handled scissors, one pair in front of each employee, the way Sylvester eyes Tweety Bird when the little old lady is in the room. Outwardly, I was patient. Inwardly, I was nervous–I knew I was cutting it close (pun intended) to make it in time to pick the kids up from school. I just needed those scissors for a second, but I didn’t interrupt.
“May I help you?” the man asked just as he finished measuring and cutting a bolt of green fabric for another customer.
I set my sparkly gold ribbon on the counter and said, “Can I borrow your scissors, I just need to cut my ribbon.”
The other Jo-Ann Fabric employee standing next to him jumped in with a quick and unapologetic “NO. Customers can’t do their own cutting. It is a liability.”
“OK, will you please cut this ribbon for me?”
“No, we can’t.”
I started to feel the pressure of my blood increase a couple notches.
“But I just bought it here; I can show you the receipt.”
The answer was still no, due to the liability. Again, no apology and no acknowledgement of the ridiculousness of the rule, even if we all must follow it. Forget that I had learned to use scissors in kindergarten and felt confident in my abilities. Forget that we were in a fabric store where I just witnessed the two of them cut fabric for other customers.
Here we stood – three grown adults, two pair of scissors, and a spool of ribbon that needed to be cut. Yet, apparently there was not a thing that could be done.
For a split second, I fantasized about jumping across the counter, grabbing the scissors, cutting my four pieces of ribbon I needed and running. But I wasn’t sure I could pull it off since it would be two against one. If I got arrested, who would pick up the kids from school? The less than helpful and even less than friendly woman behind the counter was already sizing me up, I could feel it.
Instead I said out loud what I once thought only old people said, “What is this world coming to?”
I turned and was still chattering about the loss of common sense. Another customer who witnessed the entire thing agreed and we commiserated walking out to the parking lot together.
“It’s like the lady that sued MacDonald’s because she burned herself with the coffee,” the other customer said.
“Yes,” I agreed. “A few sue-happy people and a few greedy attorneys ruin it for the rest of us”
I will never get millions because I spilled my coffee or cut my finger with scissors in a store, but my common sense is worth infinitely more. I am happy to be among the rest of us.
Jill Fales is the mother of four and author of “My Laundry Museum & Other Messy Gifts of Motherhood.” Visit her at JillFales.com.