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Christmas Eve, 2:30pm. I was released from work early, noon, for the Christmas holiday. This free afternoon gave me some much-needed shopping time.

I found myself at K-Mart. It was the last place I stopped, after exhausting my options at WalMart, Target, Kohls, and OfficeMax.

As I tooled my little grey shopping cart through the disorganized KMart aisles, a voice burst over the PA system.

"Merry Christmas, KMart shoppers! Today our special is on the book..."

He listed off a title and author. "[author] is a local artist, er, art, um, author, he's a local author, and this book is...."

He rambled for a few minutes about the book's storyline, something about the author's 4th grade students and something about space travel, I believe.

"Well, shoppers, we've only got three copies of the book left, so hurry!"

I continued with my shopping, looking for the final gift on my list. I also checked out entertainment centers, looking for something to fit the new TV my parents got us for Christmas.

The voice came over the PA. "Good afternoon, KMart Shoppers! We still have three copies of the book left, so tell you what I'm going to do. I'll personally autograph each book purchased, so bring it up to the courtesy desk and I'll put my signature on it."

From the tone of his voice, I was fairly certain that the PA Voice was neither the book's author, nor is he supposed to have access to the microphone. Hopefully, whomever is supposed to be watching him has finally taken the PA away from him.

Less than five minutes later, his voice returned.

"I've got a new deal for you shoppers -- I'll personally sign any book you buy here at KMart today. Any book that we have for sale, I'll sign it for you."

I couldn't pass up on THAT deal. I promply wheeled my still-empty cart over to the book section and browsed the shelves. I was hoping to find something written about Sam Walton. I did, however, quickly realize why nobody was buying any books at KMart. Despite KMart's partnership with Borders Books, the literature section of this KMart was horribly barren. The racks of romance novels appeared lightly touched, but the other areas were picked over attentively. The promise of having a KMart employee autograph a book wasn't enough to induce me to spend money on a non-ironic or non-readable tome.

As I stood by the books, near the big double-doors to the "Employees Only" part of the store, a female KMart employee walked by. Just as she parted the double-doors and passed through, the Voice came over the PA again.

"Donna has left the building."

If Donna was supposed to be the one keeping the microphone away from Mr. Announcer, all was now lost. I abandoned my empty cart in the aisle and made my way back to my car.

I'll sign any book for you anytime.

--David Vaiyne , 12/29/2003 14:09:01

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