Monday, October 20, 2014


From my walk-in closet I pulled a pair of my highest, sharpest stilettos and strapped them on.

“Why are you putting on high heels?” asked Sherwood, my husband of thirty- plus years.

“Because we’re going into battle. I pulled a suit jacket over my yellow knit top.

“It’s pretty hot for a jacket. Don’t you think?”

“Sherwood, dear man, nothing says, ‘I want my money back ‘ like sharp, pointy shoes and a Liz Claiborne suit jacket.”

I checked my makeup and threw a mock pink crocodile hobo bag over my bony shoulder.

“Let’s go.”

This was war. And I was not going to lose.

We crammed the defective four hundred and sixty dollar (two year extended warranty included) Hewlet Packard Officejet Pro scanner, printer, fax, and copier machine into the truck. Less than twenty-four hours earlier, I had purchased the new copy machine with cold, hard, American credit to replace the old copy machine that had been blown to toast by lightning—while I happened to be standing next to it.

The replacement Hewlet Packard Officejet Pro scanner, printer, fax, and copier fresh out of the box—did not work. It didn’t pretend to work. So, back it had to go because I make a lot of copies of stuff—my writing, my sketches, coloring pages for grandchildren, my last will and testament. 

“Give me the keys. I’ll drive.” I snapped my fingers.

“Slow down, General Patton. I’m driving,” Sherwood said, holding the keys over my head. He didn’t have to hold them very high. Sherwood drove. I fumed and prepared my opening salvo.

The girl snapping her gum, standing underneath the Customer Service sign, did not have a chance.

“Hi, my name is Linda Zern,” I said, “and I’m not a happy customer.”

The gum snapper snapped to attention, eyes widening. I did not slow down. 

“Yesterday, I bought a four hundred and sixty dollar copy machine for my business, and it does not work, not even a little bit. Now I know that this unfortunate turn of events is not your fault, or my fault, or the fault of some poor slave chained to a factory wall in China, cranking out copier machines by the billions. The machine does not work. I find this situation beyond frustrating, and I want no silliness from this fine establishment. Do you understand? Now, what do you plan to do for me?”

Her hand trembled as she pointed toward the back of the store. 

“Just leave the bad one and go get a new one,” she said.

I spun on my pointy heels.

When I found a young man lurking in the copier aisle, I said, “Young man, this it the situation: I purchased a moderately expensive copy machine, and it is defective. Now I know that this is not your fault, or my fault, or the fault of some poor slave chained to a factory wall in China, however I still want one that works. I am not happy. Furthermore, I can’t seem to find another copier machine to replace the piece of junk I purchased in good faith from this store only yesterday. What can you do for me?”

His hand trembled as he pushed a very large ladder to a top shelf where a stack of very heavy HP Officejet Pros waited.

I noticed Sherwood’s frown. 

“You think I’m being too hard on the troops.” It was not a question.

“I think you’re being testy.”

With raised eyebrows I asked the young man, now bent double under my replacement copier, “My husband thinks that I’m being testy. What do you think?”

His hand trembling increased as he steadied the huge box. “I think that you are a person who wants what she paid for.”

“Excellent answer, young man, proceed.” He lumbered towards customer service.

“Do you think that he’s afraid of me?” I asked my husband.

“I’m afraid of you.”


I marched to customer service, my stilettos tapping a determined rhythm. Without a word, the gum snapper made the switch and handed me a receipt.

“Young lady, I want to thank you for not making me have to mud wrestle you over this exchange.”

She cracked a lip glossed smile.

“And if I were you I would say your prayers that this machine is not also defective.”

She crossed herself.

We left. The copier is perfect.

I give all the credit to my shoes. Nothing says, ‘Don’t mess with me or my feet’ like a pair of sharp, pointy shoes. I know the truth. Any woman who is prepared to endure the pain, discomfort, and unnatural spinal position that high heels require will not hesitate to fling herself over a customer service desk and throttle the teenager running the cash register. It’s like having two rottweilers on your feet. I love my high heels—also they make me taller.

So, tip of the week, if you want action don’t wear flip-flops.

Linda (I have hammer toes older than you!) Zern 

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