With Halloween just around the corner, our local bakery has been displaying a fantastic selection of treats for a few weeks now: little sugar witches and pumpkin shaped candies have the kids pressing their noses against the glass. The smells coming out of the door are divine and turn my head every time I pass by.
Now don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a tutorial on how to make pumpkin muffins, if there is such a thing. As I stroll down the steep cobbled streets of the small Spanish town we now call home, I’m after a different treat altogether: the local jewellery shop here is one of the best I’ve ever been in, and I frequent it…well, frequently. Run by a French lady, she designs silver jewellery with semi precious stones and gets them made in a workshop in Bali. I get more compliments for her unusual pieces than I get for anything else I wear.
So here I am, trying to cheer myself up with a dose of retail therapy. The working week has been challenging and the weather has been atrocious. A few bad hair days in the torrential rain are all it takes to get me down and I urgently require something to make me feel a bit prettier. Mind you, this is my second try. It all started a few days ago when I thought: “I am going to buy myself that expensive top I saw on the internet. I deserve it.” Coincidentally, the well-known high street chain whose name rhymes with “Basis” was also offering 20% off everything on their website, so credit card in hand, I went ahead and placed my order.
On first attempt, my order failed, or so the little red message at the top of the screen told me. Nothing to worry about, I said to myself, and tried again. This time I got one screen further but still, it failed. And again on the third try. After three unsuccessful attempts I started feeling a little uncomfortable. Better check my bank, I thought, just in case the payment is going through even though the order isn’t. The next thing I saw was a big fat debit of £230, three times the price of the order, taken from my account. I was now down to a two digit number and it was five days to go till payday.
I took a deep breath and emailed the helpdesk of “Basis”. The first person I dealt with was annoyingly unhelpful. Apparently, I had entered incorrect address details. Even though I know where I live (thanks for assuming otherwise!), I rang my bank to double check the address, and let “Basis” know that this wasn’t the problem. At the same time my bank told me that I wouldn’t see the £230 again for another five days. Great. That put an end to all the other treats I might have had to compensate for the bad hair and the loss of the top. At this point I was starting to feel the effects of treat-deprivation, and also taken for a ride. A big corporation was able to block my account, but didn’t have to deliver the goodies in return. Sure, I knew I would get my money back, but for the moment, I had neither money nor top.
It took three more emails to “Basis”, which remained unanswered, and a very annoyed fourth, before somebody else got back to me and told me apologetically and honestly that she was “perplexed” by the problems I had been encountering. Now perplexity I can deal with – I experience this often enough myself. Snottiness I cannot. I forgave “Basis” for not being able to help me – however, that still didn’t get me the treat I badly needed.
With the last few quid in my pocket, I’ve decided to trudge down to Jewellery Heaven to get myself a few grams of 925 Sterling Silver. I’ve verified the opening hours before leaving the house and I’ve made a mental decision of what kind of stone I will get this time: earrings with smoky blue labradorite to complement a necklace my fiancé bought me a while back.
As I approach the window of the shop, however, it appears dark, and even after rattling the doors and frantically verifying that I’ve made no mistake on the opening hours, I can’t quite believe they are, in fact, closed.
Looks like I’ll be having some of those sugar pumpkins after all.