Ever the "bargain" hunter, I took myself off to my local Goodwill store last Wednesday to have a look around. Now that I'm "retired" I like to get out of the house at least once a week to check out the shopping deals in our local stores in Lewiston and Auburn, Maine. Sometimes, my intuition nudges me and I just know that I'm going to find something special on that little shopping trip and I usually do.
After cleaning out my linen closet and discovering that I now possess twenty-three king size sheet sets, and nearly all having come from Goodwill, I resolved not to purchase any more sheets no matter how much they pull my heart strings. So, I quickly walked past all the sheets, towels and pillowcases and on to the glass wear section.
And after having collected over the years, many very nice crystal glasses, vases and anything else made out of crystal, I'd resolved not to purchase anymore crystal either. So, I skimmed through that section rather quickly and on to my favorite one, the electronics department. I don't know why but I just love electronics! It doesn't matter to me if it's new or not, I'm not a snob and I dearly love looking at all the donated clocks, radios, televisions, irons and anything one can plug in that makes your life easier..
After having spent several minutes examining all the goods, I spied something that made my breath catch in my throat and my old heart sing and just as I was going to reach for it, two men, walked into the end of the aisle and cut off my access. I waited impatiently for them to have a look at all the stuff piled on the shelves and move on but no, they stood there, exchanging gossip about their families, jobs and health issues, while I stood next to them, praying for them to get going!
Finally, when I couldn't stand another second of their inane nattering, I made a decision and I touched one of the men on the arm and said, "Excuse me, but I need to get something." The men stopped talking and gaped at me and that was all the time I needed to scoop up the item. Just as I tucked the treasure under my arm and started to walk away, one of the men said to the other in a snarky, loud, superior voice, "Well, wasn't that nice! I was jist goin to have a good look at that en she grabbed it! I sure do hate pushy wimmen!" And I smiled a great big, bright smile all the way up to the check out register.
I quickly dug out my check book and slapped my precious "Goodwill" card down on the counter to get my ten percent discount and waited for the clerk to ring up my sale, all the while examining my lovely find. The clerk, after having handed me back my card and the sales slip, looked at my find and said, "Boy, you sure got a nice buy for under ten dollars, didn't you." "Yes, I sure did and I can't wait to give it to my husband! He's going be so surprised and I just know he's going to love it!" With those parting words, I grabbed my precious bundle and hurried out of the store for home. All the short ride home, I sang along with the radio to music from our local country music station, thinking to myself how pleased and surprised my husband was going to be when he saw my gift.
Upon arriving home, I hurried up the cellar stairs into the kitchen and quickly slid the "find" out of the Goodwill bag onto my kitchen island and looked at it. It was in excellent condition and there didn't seem to be anything wrong with it. It looked just like the original that I remembered from my childhood but was slightly smaller. I picked it up and placed it on the counter next to the kitchen window that overlooks our back yard. "It looks like it has always been there," I thought to myself.
I kept glancing at the clock and saw that Leo should be home shortly. I stirred the homemade chicken soup that we were going to have for supper and smiled to myself as I heard the garage door open and then close. I waited impatiently for his steps on the stairs and looked up as the cellar door opened and he came into the kitchen.
Leo slid his lunch pail onto the counter and turned to look at me. "So, what did you do today?" He asked as he walked over to his favorite stool in the far corner of our kitchen and sat down. He bent and slid his socks off his tired feet and not hearing me answer, he stopped and looked up at me. "Notice anything different?" I asked and waited while he reacted like all husbands do when their wife asks a cryptic question. Knowing that this particular type of question could have been applied to a million and one different offenses, his eyes narrowed slightly and he slid them guiltily around the kitchen all the while asking himself, "What tha Hell did I do now?"
Not seeing anything out of order, he slid his hazel eyes back to mine and made the one statement that covers just about any indiscretion that husband's all over the world use; "Gee dear, everything is always so neat and clean, I don't see a thing!" I slid my blue eyes over to the back counter to where the gift was sitting and waited.
Leo leaned forward just enough to see where I'd indicated that he look and finally saw it. His eyes widened and he pulled off the other sock and dropped it to the floor. Then, he got up and walked over to where his present was waiting.
I stirred the soup a little more, turned the burner down and said, "What do you think of my Goodwill find?" Leo, slid the present forward and said, "It sure is nice." Not hearing any excitement and irritated by his lack of excitement, I hurried to point out all the wonderful features it had. "See, it's an "exact replica" of the old Crosley radios of the nineteen twenties and we had one exactly like it when we were kids up in "the County."
"Yes, honey, I can see that but it's not really like the older models. The "real" ones were made out of wood and they had tubes." He replied. Stung by his lack of appreciation for my find, I slid the wonderful radio out so that he could have a better look at it. He picked up the cord and pushed the plug into the electrical outlet by the sink. Then, he turned the knob and waited and he didn't have to wait long either; and our kitchen was filled with ear-shattering, high voltage static that assaulted your ears and fried your brains!
Leo reached up and yanked the plug out of the receptacle and silence filled the room. He pushed the radio aside, closely examined the back and said, "It looks like they didn't think to make a place to attach an antenna. This thing is never going to work! It must have been made in China! You should have plugged it in at Goodwill before you bought it." Stung by his rejection of my present and seeing that he wasn't as enamored with it as I, I turned, turned off the soup and began to fill the bowls with the steaming broth. "Please go and take your shower and I'll take it back tomorrow."
It was a cool house at our home that night and just as I was about to fall asleep, I heard a final scolding from the far side of the bed; "Honey, don't forget to take the radio back to Goodwill in the morning." I didn't answer and as a hot flash surged through my body, I kicked off the covers and headed for the couch, resolving all the way not to ever buy him a present ever again!
Bright and early the next morning, after Leo had gone off to work, I picked up the little radio and looked at it again. "Well," I said to myself. "Maybe he doesn't appreciate it like I do but if it won't work there's really no reason to keep it." I dug out my polish and sprayed the brown plastic radio and then polished it until it shone like new in the morning sun. Then, I picked up the electrical cord and plugged the radio in. To my surprise, instead of ear-splitting static filling my sunny kitchen, beautiful, wonderful music filled my ears and I couldn't believe it! I turned the knob and the dial went from station to station, finding all my favorite stations without a problem! I turned the volume up and the sound was wonderful! I turned it down and found the same result, beautiful, clear music.
I couldn't believe it! The radio was perfect, the stations came in perfectly and I was ecstatic and overjoyed that my find was so wonderful sounding. I turned the volume down a little and then I dialed my husband's office number. He picked up after several rings and I said; "Tell me what you hear!" I pointed the phone towards the radio for a couple of seconds and then said; "Well, what did you hear?" "I heard the television, of course!" He answered. "Wrong!" I told him.
Growing tired of my little game, he asked, "If it isn't the television, what is it?" I laughed happily and replied, "It's my little radio and it works perfectly!" "No kidding, what did you do to it?" "Nothing," I replied. "I polished it and plugged it in and it works!"
He hung up after that and I danced happily around my lovely kitchen, singing along with the music. All was right in my little world and I was already dreaming about what my next trip to Goodwill might bring!
Martha Stevens-David Column Magic City
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