Weekly prompt: Write a flash piece about an encounter with a stranger.
I like to defy conventional stereotypes. Or, at least I try to. The “dumb blonde” stereotype has haunted me my entire life. Mostly I am able to turn that convention on its head. But sometimes, despite my best efforts, I do nothing but reinforce it in other people’s minds.
For Christmas, I wanted to get my husband a nice watch; he said he had nothing nice to wear. But in his bathroom drawer, underneath the travel-sized dental flosses, below the hemorrhoid cream, mixed in with the most vile cologne samples, I found SEVEN nice watches lying broken and discarded. I thought it better to repair his existing, very nice, designer watches rather than buy him yet another. No doubt, a new battery, a spiffed up band and a spit-shine was all that was needed! I selected the nicest from the bunch and slipped it surreptitiously into my pocket.
On an errand run a few days later, I sidled into our local jewelers to have the watch repaired. I told the owner my plan which would save the Earth from additional pointless consumerism and save some money to boot. Of course it would also cost him a sale, but if I didn’t bring it up, perhaps he wouldn’t notice.
Taking the watch from my hand and giving it a quick glance, he said, “This is a Citizen Eco-Drive.”
Ha! I impressed the jeweler. He knows exactly how nice a watch this is. “I know,” I replied, feeling full of myself.
“Well, you see, it doesn’t need a new battery. It’s solar powered. Just put it in the sun or under a lamp and it’ll work again.”
I stared at him for a moment, processing what he said. It was like I’ve been pulling for minutes on the door plainly labeled “push.” I looked him in the eyes exactly the way an idiot would. Silence hung between us, heavy like a diaper filled with poo.
“But let me shine it up for you,” he said to distract from my embarrassment, and no doubt in the hopes of not losing such a potentially gullible customer.
There it is, a funny story for the ages: The dumb blonde who couldn’t figure out solar power.
Due to his super human restraint in not making fun of me until after I left the store, I maintained my relationship with that business. So today I walked into the same jewelers shop, and asked for the same service. But this time for my own brand new watch that stopped working.
“My husband bought me this for Christmas, and it doesn’t work. It needs a new battery,” I said confidently. I was sure this time. I checked multiple times, this was definitely not an Eco-Drive.
The jeweler briefly glanced down at my watch and then back up at me, looking me in the eyes and keeping his expression carefully neutral.
“This is a fully automatic watch — it runs on kinetic energy. Just wear it and it will wind itself.”