Get in Gear

You can't spell "credit" without REI.

"Let's see," she says, balling one up in her fist. "If not, they can always be ironed."

Ironed? Wait, that makes sense. All hotel rooms have irons, and most of the people buying these hats will be taking them off in hotel rooms, not pup tents. Including me. But wearing it, I will look like I could be striding off on an adventure, and suddenly that is what matters. Grabbing a forty-dollar hat, I shoot over to the bicycle section, where I am instantly deep in conversation with another hyper-fit saleswoman who applies reverse psychology by telling me that a cyclist of my "recreational" nature probably doesn't need a new clipless pedal system that "transfers the power from your foot to the bike in a phenomenal way." Oh, no? I don't? You just unlock that case, missy, and hand over the merchandise. I'll show you recreational.

The next few minutes are a blur. I emerge from the fog to find myself approaching a cash register and see that I have somehow picked up a box of Balance Bars, several pairs of heavy sub-zero hiking socks for my children (neither of whom have the slightest intention of hiking, much less in the Arctic), and the latest book on kayaking and its attendant gear, which...No! No! I refuse to take up kayaking. I stuff the book under a pile of bandannas and approach the cashier, feeling virtuous.

Happy new gear: At REI's new flagship store, good intentions -- and your credit limit -- vanish into thin air.
John Johnston
Happy new gear: At REI's new flagship store, good intentions -- and your credit limit -- vanish into thin air.

He turns out to be a nice young man -- far more knowledgeable and courteous than his counterparts at Domino's Pizza or Blockbuster Video. According to him, I'll be getting a $20 refund from this little shopping spree. Hmmm. Twenty bucks. Maybe I do need that kayaking book after all. And that neoprene kayaking suit. And that matching kayak...

What a place. What a world.

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