"So its come to this," I told myself as pulled into the Salvation Army parking lot. Money has been tight for longer than I care to admit, and that was before the dog ate the candles, the deer hit the car and the cat developed a kidney problem. I was down to one pair of decent jeans and two pair of Khakis, a "work pair" and a "good pair" ie, the pair I could wear to do errands and not look like a ragamuffin. Everything else was worn through at the knees, stained or both. I work at an animal shelter. When your jeans aren't fit to wear to work, you KNOW you're in trouble. So here I was at the Salvation Army on the hunt for a bargain.
My father was a school teacher back when feeding a family of six on a teacher's salary was a real challenge. When we were kids my mother would go to rummage sales. She also used to make our clothes, something I'm am definitely not capable of doing. Its not overstating my lack of sewing prowess to say that in junior high I was the Home Economics teacher's worst nightmare. Still, this was the first time that I found myself shopping for second hand finds as an adult.
I entered the store, breezed by the used furniture section and headed straight for women's jeans. The clothes aren't arranged by size and the sizes aren't on the price tags, you have to hunt for the size on the garment. I started at the end of the row and flipped through checking size and price tags and sometimes labels. Levi's, Tommy Hilfiger, Chic, Wrangler, Mudd, Old Navy, Gap, you name it, they got it. A woman started at the other end of the row. She was much faster than I and it wasn't long before we passed headed in opposite directions, I'd done about a quarter of the row. Was there a trick to this size reading thing? Maybe my speed would improve over time.
Next it was on to the dressing room to try on the stack of jeans I'd pulled from the rack; no, no, no, the Levi's were a maybe, a pair of Tommy Hilfiger painters pants a definite yes. Street clothes back on, return rejects, search again. More jean, Dockers, cargo pants, a pair of olive khakis, back to the dressing room, this time there's a wait. The gal who passed me in the jeans aisle was waiting at the dressing rooms too. She was an attractive woman, about my age, tiny, with long salt and pepper hair. I noted a couple of tattoos designed to look like bracelets on her wrist as I observed the finds she has clutched to her chest. We waited amicably for the changing room occupants to try on their selections, their feet visible under the door. The woman in changing room one wore flip flops, no socks and was doing a little jig as she tried on each outfit, feet landing back on the little black sandals like a gymnast on a balance beam, never touching the floor. The gentleman in the changing room next to her was using a pair of jeans as a carpet. I hoped he planned to buy them, not put them back on the rack.
My second round of try-ons scored me two more pair of pants, a pair of jeans, a pair of navy blue Dockers. I tallied up my purchases and headed for the check out. The woman ahead of me in line was asking the clerk to check the prices on a couple of items. She said she'd just returned to the area and had nothing. She was getting as much free stuff as she could and asked for recommendations where she might find household items etc. "I gave all my stuff away when I moved," she said, looking up at the clerk from her wheelchair. The clerk gave her a few suggestions, checked the prices and turned her attention to me. While I'd been waiting I noticed a sign that I had missed when I first arrived, "all green tag items 50% off." Two of the three items I held in my hand were green tags. Yes! The clerk tallied up my purchases, folding them neatly and placing them in a bag. The grand total for all three items, $10.37. Score! Looks like I just may become a Salvation Army regular.