Monday, March 2, 2009
A Short Story: Vicki's Illustrious Toilet Paper Emporium
Donnie's hardware store does not have roof paint. "Otro semana?" I ask hopefully. He moves his head side-to-side as if watching a slow-motion ping pong game. "Por que?" I ask. I get the "shoulder shrug". I go next door to the other hardware store. They don't have it either, nor do they have the water line connectors I need. Off to the third and final hardware store. Nope. "Next week?" "No se." Non-committal, as if I'm nuts to be asking for hardware and home improvement supplies at a hardware store.
That is how, this afternoon, I thought of a new business venture. My business plan? I will rent a little storefront in Futa, I will paint it...oh, wait! I won't be able to paint it...no paint in Futa. Never mind that. I'll just rent the store. Then....
I will put on my "goin' to town" clothes, and hop on a bus and travel to Santiago. It is a three or four day trip, but well worth it as you will see. I will meet with all the toilet paper suppliers who do business in Futa. Now, here's the fun part. No matter how much it costs, I will secure an EXCLUSIVE rights contract with all of them, rent a warehouse in Santiago, then get back on the bus to Futa with two 4-roll packs of toilet paper to stock my store, Vicki's Illustrious Toilet Paper Emporium, and wait.
This will make part two quite ingenious. While I am in Santiago, Greg will have canvassed Futa to purchase all the phone books which no one ever uses except to start fires in wood stoves, paying 100 pesos each for the books.
So, now I have returned to Futa and placed my eight individual rolls of toilet paper on my shelf behind my cash box and Greg has stacked all the phone books along the far wall.
Soon, all toilet paper purchasers find their way to Vicki's Illustrious Toilet Paper Emporium and the line now snakes around the block, the owners of all the hardware stores in town dancing in place waiting for the store to open WHENEVER I FEEL LIKE OPENING IT!
I unlock the door, then talk for five minutes on my cell phone before looking up at Donnie, who is now clearly distressed. "Toilet Paper? Do you have toilet paper?" he asks (in Spanish of course).
"No hay." Then, with a grand sweeping gesture of my arm I indicate the now-empty shelf.
"Cuando?" He is perspiring and there is panic in his eyes. "No se." I shrug.
Then...with a look of empathy I touch his forearm and point to the stack of phone books, walk over, open one and tear out a page. "Like toilet paper," I say. "Only 500 pesos!" He thrusts a coin at me, grabs a fresh book and runs from Vicki's Illustrious Toilet Paper Emporium.
Within a week, Nogal varnish, and green roof paint appear in hardware stores, as well as water tube connectors and wood protector (cedro in color). Black market toilet paper from Argentina is hidden behind counters selling for 500 pesos a roll. But my point has been made, and now I will call my suppliers, pay off my contracts and ship truckloads of toilet paper from my warehouse to Futa to sell for 800 pesos a 4-pack.
But then I realize I cannot look up their phone numbers because there are no phone books left in Futa.
And so it goes.