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The Scrivener: Cheap And Cheerful

Brian Barratt goes hunting for an egg beater - and ends up a cheerful fellow.

We call them $2 Stores in Australia. I call them Chinese Cheap & Cheerful Stores because everything they sell comes from China. They are very useful when you need a particular sort of plastic tray for your kitchen, for instance. I bought a very cheap thermometer, barometer, hygrometer combination with two added weather forecast graphic screens which has proved to be accurate and reliable. But not everything is reliable. I've had a couple of items with LED lighting components which packed up after a few weeks. And it's sometimes difficult to explain to the willing assistants exactly what you're looking for.
When I wanted a wind-up dynamo torch to replace one that stopped working, young ladies at two shops had no idea what I was talking about. This week, I needed a new hand-held rotary egg beater to replace an old one. There was no way that I was going to explain that, so I simply hunted round the well stacked shelves of the two stores in our small local shopping centre. No luck.

I extended the search to the 3 Cheap & Cheerfuls in a larger shopping centre down the road. No joy.

Then, eureka, I found one in a supermarket. Excellent, I thought, until I tried to wind it round. The wheels and cogs were made of plastic, not metal, and were completely stuck. End of eureka moment.

Off I went to a much larger shopping centre a few kilometres up the road, and tried three homewares stores. Two had 'sold out' and were expecting some more 'next week'. Hmm, I've heard that one before. The third gave rise to a most interesting conversation with the helpful woman behind the counter:

Me: I am looking for a rotary egg beater.

Her: [Puzzled look.]

Me: [ Clearly.] An egg beater.

Her: What do you want it for?

Me: [Slowly.] To beat eggs.

Her: Oh!

She made hand gestures to mimic using exactly what I meant and took me to the back of the shop. She proudly took an item from the display and offered it to me.

Me: No, that is not a rotary egg beater. It is a whisk.

This shopping centre is rather useful. By the time you have walked up and down the full length of two levels, you have had a fair measure of exercise for the day as befits an elderly twit chasing wild geese. So I walked along to the large department store, one of a national chain. There, I was greeted by a young gentleman who probably hadn't started shaving.

We experienced a generation gap. He had no idea what an egg beater is, declaring that it was too technical for him (this boy's job is to help customers) so I asked him just to direct me to the kitchen gadgets section. He didn't know what that meant but eventually pointed to a sign that said 'Home' where I would find all the electric appliances.

I found one hand-held rotary egg beater. Just one. A strongly made all-metal model. The rotary wheels and cogs were a bit stiff but it looked promising. And the card on the shelf said it was only $5. When I handed it to the very obliging lady at the check-out, I commented on the low price. She said how old fashioned that item was, and called someone else to check the price. That person came back with a label for a whisk priced at $6. I pointed out that this old fashioned gadget was not a whisk but at $6 I was happy to buy it. She rang it up. The check-out register said it was $4.50.

So, after hunting in 10 shops, I found a hand-held rotary egg beater for a bargain price but I somehow feel that both it and I are rather old fashioned. Or maybe not. Amazon UK advertise 6 different models. Amazon USA have 12 different models. But mine was cheaper and I am cheerful.

Copyright Brian Barratt 2013

Brian has the ability to turn the ordinary into the unforgettable. For more of his delicious read-again columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/the_scrivener/

And do visit his Web site
www.alphalink.com.au/~umbidas/

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