Professor Grantsome Web stood in front of the automatic doors of a Kohl’s store waiting impatiently for them to open. They had broken his determined stride yet again. For three years, he has been frequenting this store and has been in a dire, and to this point fruitless, attempt to time his stride perfectly so that his momentum won’t be deterred in the slightest as he walks through the doors. Without fail, however, they have sensed his perverted drive towards perfection and have thwarted his advances. The doors must be mistimed, he thought to himself, if only I could get my hands on the throat of the culprit who deliberately changes the mechanism each time, I’d throttle him. Perhaps even finish him off with a bludgeoning.
Web would return home after this trip, as always, and write a belligerent letter to the manager of the store about Kohl’s lack of order and standards; as well reporting the manager to the corporate headquarters for his intolerable mischief. Web has proven resolute in his cc-ing, being certain to add, among others, God, his lawyer, all the regional managers of all Kohl’s across the United States, and his local representative to the list. Occasionally, he adds Ignatius Reilly as a gas.
Finally in the store, Web strode without delay to the Home Appliances counter and dropped a box labeled “bagel slicer,” written with a Sharpie in his own perfect penmanship, upon the countertop. A simple bell with a sign reading “Ring once for assistance” sat upon the counter. Web rang the bell ceaselessly until a young woman, an Kohl’s employee, approached and removed the bell from Web’s grasp.
“Ask not, young lady, for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”
“Listen, sir, I don’t even work in this department so lighten up, okay?”
“The hapless nymph with wonder saw, a whisker first and then a claw,” Web widened his eyes and hissed at the clerk.
“What? Can I help you with something or not?” The clerk was clearly annoyed. This was further amplified by the fact that Web stared longingly at her ample bosom, which was still heaving from her long dash from health and beauty supplies to fend off the source of the incessant service bell.
"An equal pound of your fair flesh taken in what part of your body pleaseth me."
“I’m calling my manager.”
“Ahem.” Web reached deep into the pocket of his green and yellow herringbone sport coat to retrieve a large pair of metal-framed glasses. He placed them on his bulbous nose and startled the Kohl’s woman as his eyes were magnified to three times their actual size.
“Never mind that I lust for you as you’re a nymph” Web continued, “and never mind this bagel slicer to boot. I no longer have any need for its services. I’d like a full refund. Immediately. Without delay, that is.”
“Where’s the original box? We can’t take this back,” the clerk said.
“Yes, you can.”
“No, we can’t.”
“Yes, you can.”
“No, we can’t.”
“Would you happen to have the receipt for this purchase?”
Web stalled for time. “That’s despicable. This isn’t the Iron Curtain here, don’t attempt to make me disappear because I choose to challenge your claims of “satisfaction guaranteed.” I’m clearly not satisfied here. Now ante up, Buttercup. I shall not be deterred.”
“Well sir, I’m afraid I can’t refund your money, and we’ll see what my manager has to say about this.”
Web pondered this momentarily. Then his face filled with rage as he shouted, “ ‘Unjust laws exist, shall we be content to obey them?’ Thoreau.”
The woman closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She walked behind the counter and pulled two forms from beneath the register.
“If you just fill out these two dispute forms, I can process them and try to get you a store credit, if you promise to stop returning things every week. It’s also assuming this is a model of bagel slicer we carry.”
“Absolutely not,” Web said.
“No, I will fill nothing out and you’ll like it. I demand retribution.”
The clerk removed the bagel slicer from the box and noticed that the blade was entirely mangled, bent in half, and its casing was cracked. Thick black grease that smelled alarmingly similar to fresh tar on a hot August day oozed down the sides. The clerk wrote down the information from the box, simply scribbling, ‘bagel slicer…. Bad,’ and called her store’s manager for assistance. As they waited, Web tapped his fingernails impatiently upon the glass, never removing his magnified eyes from the clerk’s pimpled face.
“Sir,” she asked, “did the blade come bent like this?
Web stopped tapping his nails.
Then he began tapping again, louder and faster than before.
“Then did a bagel do this?”
“Of course not, you buffoon.”
“Then what exactly happened?” the clerk pressed.
“ ‘Justice means minding one’s own business and not meddling with other men’s concerns.’ Plato. Furthermore, what I do with my bagel slicer is my business and absolutely none of yours ”
Again, Web stopped tapping and leaned over the counter so his huge eyes came within inches of the clerk’s face. She could feel the heat of his tuna breath staining her cheeks and was frightened the fluorescent lights above might magnify through his lenses and fry her to a crisp like an ant through a magnifying glass.
A tall staunch man with moustache appeared, the store’s manager. He spoke with the girl for a moment, so that Web couldn’t overhear. While she informed the manager of the exchange, Web danced a drunken tango with an imaginary partner to the Muzak above.
“Okay, sir, can I help you?”
“ ‘Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them.’ Heller. Which one are you?"
“Whatever, man. All I know is, mediocre or not, according to our store policy, you can’t get an exchange here, nor would I give you one if you could. We don’t even sell this model, nor have we ever. I’ve told you this the last five times you’ve been in here.”
“And you call yourself a man of commerce? I want a refund, and I want this woman fired.”
“For my bagel slicer, of course.”
“No,” the manager said, “why do you want her fired?”
“For insolence, and for her insatiable propensity to pry into customer’s lives. Are you too blinded by her nymphet tunes?”
The manager handed the box with the bagel slicer back to Web forcefully and apologized to him for not being able to help. He also informed him that he would call security if he didn’t leave immediately and if he ever dared to step foot into the store again.
Grant stopped his waltz to take the bagel slicer. He grabbed it indignantly and stuck his yellow tongue out at the clerk and her manager.
“You do realize, I hope, that were we in the Middle Ages, I would have you both burned at the stake for your indiscretions.”
The manager put his finger to his chin and pondered this for a moment. “No, you wouldn’t.”
Web hugged the bagel slicer close to his body and turned to walk toward the front of the store. As he did, he mumbled under his breath, “Peasants.”
Without fail, the automatic doors failed to open and Web waited impatiently while they slowly slid aside. Web screamed in horror as he disappeared into the parking lot.
“Hail, horrors! Hail, infernal Kohl's! And thou, profoundest Hell!”
Web would return the following Thursday to begin the process all over again.