It Pays to Be Nice.

I like to think karma works.

I went to Michael’s today; I had a 40%-off coupon that was ready to expire. I found myself wandering the aisles: knitting needles? Canvas? Frames? This isn’t my regular Michael’s (God help me, I have a “regular”), so when I stumbled across the clearance section it was a surprise.

They had these fantastic stretched-canvas prints, regularly $34, on for $10. C and I were just talking about adding some new decorations to the house, so it was perfect timing. I found a great little piece for the kitchen:

We tend to seek happiness

when happiness is actually a choice

Since it was on clearance, I couldn’t use my coupon, which expires tomorrow. So on my way to the checkout, I offered it to a couple of women who were still shopping. It made me feel nice, and that alone would have made my afternoon a little brighter.

But.

I got to the checkout and the cashier scanned the canvas. “That’ll be one cent.”

Pardon?

She turned the screen so I could see it. “One cent.”

I asked her a couple of times if that was right. She even re-scanned it, just in case. It came up the same every time.

The funny bit is that I never carry cash, and I literally had no money on me. I had to ask her to tuck it behind the register and hold it while I went to rummage through the car.

I got back inside and waited in line again, already getting the sinking feeling that the other cashier had probably spoken up after I left. Would I bother to argue if she quoted me the ten-dollar price I’d expected?

I approached the till. The cashier had a big smile by this point. “One cent, please.”

I plopped a single penny in her palm, and she handed me my receipt.

I like to think it was good karma for doing a small kindness for someone. The new picture looks great under the martini in the kitchen…

…and now when I look at it I’ll smile, since it comes with its own story.

Bonus ZoeyBomb:

PS – When she handed me the receipt, the register had printed another 40%-off coupon. Double score!

The Library Book Sale

This weekend was my city’s annual library book sale (well, there’s one in the spring, too, but that one sucks and no one goes to it). What it means is that thousands of withdrawn library books and books donated by the community get hauled into a giant warehouse-style building at the fairgrounds and put up for sale. Cheap books. Books for a dollar. The sale runs for three days, and on the Sunday anything you can cram into a plastic shopping bag is yours for three dollars.

Let me reiterate: a bag stuffed with books for three dollars.

It’s like the best garage sale ever — you have no idea what you’ll find. Some years are better than others. Having broad interests helps: you’re bound to find something. I picked up books about hypochondria, Afghan women’s rights, and disappearing languages. I got one about the Muslim middle class that may turn out to be propaganda; if it is, I’ll toss it into the recycling. When books average out to something like fifty cents, you can do that.

Every time I go it brings out my primal instincts. There’s only one copy of most titles, and you’d better hope that you’re not reaching for the same book that I am. I’ll throw elbows. I have no shame. I get tunnel vision, eyes skimming quickly over spines, heart soaring as I find that one book I’ve been looking for forever, stomach sinking as I find a pristine copy of a book I only just bought last week. It’s a huge rush if you’re a book-obsessive like me.

The score? 24 books, easily worth a couple hundred bucks, for 11 dollars. I love today.