Woman waits 3 hours to have her mother's birthday present gift-wrapped, leaves with an unwrapped present and a headache

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

Many big department stores were located in the heart of the city when my mother was growing up. Those stores have long since been displaced by Walmarts and Targets on the city's outskirts.

One benefit of shopping at one of those centrally located department stores of my mother's childhood was free wrapping services. According to my mother, you could have any of your purchases professionally wrapped in paper with a big ribbon, and you didn't have to pay a penny extra.

"If you bought someone a gift, you didn't have to worry about picking up wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, and packing tape," my mother told me, "as long as you had a couple of hours to wait."

My mother bought a birthday present for my grandmother one year and carried it to the gift-wrapping counter. Gifts were wrapped on a first come first served basis, and my mother could see the gifts stretched in a long line awaiting their turn to be wrapped.

After waiting a whopping two hours for her gift to my grandmother to move to the front of the queue, my mother was asked what kind of paper she'd like and what kind of ribbons and bows, and then my mother's still-unwrapped gift was pushed along to another line.

"My gift was fourth in line," my mother told me. "The clock was ticking, and I had a headache just from watching the clock. Finally, I mustered the nerve to ask for my present back. I wanted to wrap it at home."

She asked the clerk if she could have the paper, ribbon, and bow to take home with her. That didn't go so well.

"No!" the clerk replied. "They are only to be used by employees who wrap your gifts onsite. They aren't for you to take home for free."

"Okay. Fine. May I please take my gift back? I don't want it wrapped anymore."

The clerk was more than happy to give back the present. "After all, it was one less present to wrap," my mother explained. "The service was as slow as molasses. Yet, we were supposed to feel special for having it. I never returned for gift wrapping again because I could do it faster and better at home for just the cost of some paper and ribbons."

"Free isn't worth it if you have to wait for three hours and leave with a headache and an unwrapped present. It wasn't even the holidays, just an ordinary Tuesday."

What would you have done? Would you have waited or gone home with an unwrapped present? Comments are welcome.

Why would you want to Buy Me a Coffee? I am a full-time writer and a full-time unpaid caregiver to my 82-year-old father, who lives with Parkinson's. Your tip or donation allows me to provide for his care and comfort around the clock while working from home. Thank you.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

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