Recently, I thought I’d look into buying a portable greenhouse for my wife. She’s gotten into growing orchids and other flowers, and I thought she might like one of those pop-up structures that could be installed on our patio until spring.
So I went to my local garden supply store and asked the owner, Ms. Petunia, what sort of greenhouse would be appropriate for orchids, and she told me all about cold frame greenhouses, and regular greenhouses, and hothouses. Within about three minutes, I knew this was going to be too complicated to deal with, and that I would buy my wife a smart watch instead. But Ms. Petunia kept talking. I managed to escape when she turned to call other customers over to share their personal experiences with portable greenhouses.
Out on the street, I noticed a man marching back and forth wearing an old-fashioned sandwich board advertising portable greenhouses. I didn’t think much of it, since I was, after all, outside a garden supply center. It wasn’t until I was on the highway and saw a huge billboard which said, “HALLEN, GET GREAT DEALS ON PORTABLE GREENHOUSES!” that I thought something was strange.
I drove to the mall, which had, evidently, installed a highly-specific portable greenhouse store since I had last been there a week earlier. Even though this establishment had the “largest selection of portable greenhouses,” I walked past it (because I was no longer looking for portable greenhouses) and went to Best Buy. I never know where to go in those huge stores, but they had a greeter, so I asked him where I could find smart watches.
“You mean the ones that synch with your phone?” he asked.
“They’re with the cell phones,” he replied, pointing to the right. “And you’ll find electric heaters in the back. They’re on sale.”
“Electric heaters?” I asked.
“Sure. For your portable greenhouse.”
Now I was getting freaked out. I fled from the store and looked for a mall directory. I found one on the other side of a poster advertising a sale on orchids at…well, every store in the mall. Really, even Radio Shack was having a two-for-one special on orchids. And the Hallmark Store was selling limited edition orchid Christmas Tree ornaments.
Just then my phone signalled an incoming message. It was from Trulia, the real estate site. They had located a green house in my price range, even though I haven’t been looking for a new home since we moved three years ago. I dutifully looked at the picture though; it was a really ugly green.
I found a Verizon store, which wasn’t difficult, since there are about a dozen of them in every mall in America. The place was packed as it always is, so I signed in, and went over to wait by a display of smart phones the size of small TV sets. I was thinking about how ridiculous I would look holding such an object up to my ear, when I heard my name: “Mark, an associate is available to help you.” I meekly raised my hand, and a young woman came over. “How can we help you today?” she asked. “Are you looking for a new Grow-Light?”
“Oh come on!” I yelled. “Certainly the Verizon store is not suddenly selling Grow-lights just because you think I’m shopping for a greenhouse!”
“Of course not,” she replied calmly. “But I can send you to the store with the largest selection of Grow-Lights at the best prices.”
I took a deep breath. “I just want one of those smart watches that synch with your iPhone.”
“Sorry, we don’t carry those. Can I interest you in some potting soil?”
I just couldn’t go on like this! I left Verizon, and was followed by a shady-looking character who kept saying, “Psst, Mark, wanna buy a watch?” As I raced toward the parking garage, I noticed that the Portable Greenhouse Store was now Cell Phone & Watch World. I reached my car, tore the “MARK–GET UNLOCKED CELLS PHONES CHEAP!” flyer off the windshield, and drove directly to CVS to buy some Advil.
I went straight home, where my wife greeted me with the news that she had discovered a Canadian pharmacy with great prices on pain relievers. And then…
…I woke up. It had all been a horrible nightmare.
Sometimes the Internet really creeps me out.
See you soon.
P.S. I didn’t get her the watch, either.