Wishful Thinking


I made the mistake of repairing the holes in my office walls. They had accumulated over the years. You know, pictures come and go. When I bought the house there were not one, not two, not three but four cable outlets. Then the carpenter ants arrived. The guy in the moon suit listened to the walls, drilled a dozen holes and sprayed the nest. There were a lot holes to fill. Good thing that years ago a plasterer had taught me how to fill, sand, prime and paint.

It took a day to fill and sand. Another day to prime and another day to paint. Looks good . After I’d picked out the colour and the clerk had mixed it, she pointed out the name to me: Wishful Thinking.

The trouble with new looking walls is that the rest of the room looks scruffy. I walked back to the lumber yard to look at floor tile. Right now there is wall to wall. I’m inclined to eat at the computer. I drink coffee at the computer. The carpet is, I think, supposed to be a pale grey. After four years, it looks like an abstract painting.

I looked at a lot of tile. To glue or go free floating. If free floating will there be pinch points caused by my desk, office chair, printer table. I fell in love with cork tiles. I love the honey coloured warmth. Unfortunately, the salesman said they will not stand up to a lot of traffic. But he’s got a wife, two young kids and two dogs. The cork tiles are in his kitchen and the kitchen leads to the patio. They need replacing. Not the wife and kids or dogs. The tiles. I’m the only one who uses my office.
While waiting for advice from my daughter and son-in-law, I decided to look for curtains.

You have to understand, this is not a big room. It’s 13.5 x 6.5 feet. There’s just room for me, the desk, the printer table, a two drawer filing cabinet. The window behind me is 31.5 inches deep and 5 ft 2 inches wide. I need curtains for it because the sun shining through it in the early part of the day means I can’t see my computer screen. I’m not sure what it is that is at the top of the window but it is totally useless. It is about six inches deep and crinkly. I bought this house from an older widow who was into purple and green and ruffles. I’m away during most of the summer and so far I’ve managed by throwing two tea towels over the ruffles. One has a picture of Irish elves and shamrocks and the other has pictures of old buildings and carriages pulled by horses.

I drove to the Bay. My grandmother could always get what she wanted at the Bay. The main floor is nothing but women’s underwear, perfume and with-it clothes. I escalatered myself to the second floor. Circled the floor while trying to look inconspicuous. A man by himself trolling the aisles among slow cookers, brightly coloured dishes, duvets and bath towels is always suspect. I finally stood in line to talk to a cashier.

“We don’t,” she said somewhat archly but with a slight edge of pity, “carry ready made drapes and curtains anymore. However, I can arrange an appointment with a consultant for you.”

“I want curtains for my study window. Forty eight inch deep.”

“You could try the Tillicum Mall,” she said dismissing me to take care of a woman juggling six brightly coloured pillows.

I stopped at Home something or other. They had nothing under eighty-four inches. The clerk was unable to understand why anyone would want anything shorter than eighty-four inches. They did have ninety six inches.

I tried Urban Outfitters. I think they have the same supplier as everyone else. I was getting to know the patterns.

In desperation, I went to Walmart. I don’t like Walmart. For all sorts of reasons. I don’t like giving them my money. It’s visceral. But sometimes you just have to do what you just have to do. They did have “Pocket drapes” for “Pocket Windows”. Imagine that. Except the stock had been ravaged by women (or men) desperate to buy drapes or curtains less than 84 inches. What was left was the stuff of nightmares. Having any of these drapes hanging behind me as I typed would make the hair on the back of my head stand up. To justify having gone there, I bought a couple of cans of garbanzos.

Somewhere in China there there are armies of people making drapes eighty four and ninety six inches. That is what the consumer will be allowed to buy. I see huge factories churning out drapes, that are all the same, massive freighters carrying them to North America, legions of trucks speeding them to stores across the land.

This is what happens when you allow large corporations to drive down prices to the point where small, independent outlets can’t survive. For a few dollars cheaper, you give up choice and variety, you give up the possibility of a lot of small shops producing their own unique products so that when you go shopping, it means looking at a wide variety of styles and colours. You give up choice. You give up jobs and opportunity and, ultimately, freedom.