It was the late great American beat writer, Charles Bukowski, who said it best, and it still applies today as COVID-19 has us in continued self-isolation and getting psychologically angrier and depressed by the day.
For this is what he wrote:
“It’s not the large things that send a man to the madhouse. Death he’s ready for, or murder, incest, robbery, fire, flood… no, it’s the continuing series of small tragedies that send a man to the madhouse… not the death of his love but a shoelace that snaps with no time left …”
The other day I ventured into the near-empty streets of Ottawa, wearing a medical mask like a good citizen that was nonetheless failing to cover the goatee on my chin that had grown so long during the many weeks of lockdown that I now look like a Hells Angels biker.
The goatee is close to a foot long, mostly gray, and could be easily woven into a braid, which seems to be the rage among older Harley Davidson riders I have met along my own biker journeys.
My mission was simple — buy an electric razor with all the doodads necessary to properly self-trim the goatee.
I found a franchise drug store that was open, although its inventory of grooming products was significantly depleted.
So I bought the electric razor with the most gadgets, gave the cashier $100 via my debit card, and drove home.
The next morning, I emptied the rather large box the razor came in, and it wasn’t long before I realized its sole purpose was to take the fuzz off the heads of bald men, like columnist Mike Strobel, for instance.
But not me. My hair has always been long and unkempt, but my wife has never cared much about it because it never pretended to be a business cut unless your business is dealing drugs.
And, since Karen remains my cellmate until this prison sentence ends, the goatee had to be hacked back to soften her mood.
First, though, I had to return the bald man’s razor.
The unwanted razor was re-packed nicely in its box, complete with all its 15 bits, and I also had the receipt.
Lucky for me (or so I thought), the same cashier who took my $100 for the bald man’s razor was again on duty.
“I would like to return this razor,” I said.
“Sorry, but we don’t do returns,” she replied.
This, of course, is when my shoelace snapped.
No returns!!!? WTF?
As I told the cashier, I’d would quite likely be dead from my cancer diagnosis if I first had to wait until the coronavirus crisis was entirely lifted to get my $100 back.
And, secondly, I said, why was I not warned when I bought the bald man’s razor that there would be no returns?
And where was the No Returns signage?
When she had no satisfying answer, I raised my voice even more and cycled into my intimidation mode which had the already mesmerized lineup behind me starting to show visible signs of fear.
This was perhaps my happiest moment while being off my rocker.
My mission, however, would fail.
It failed when the cashier finally produced written evidence that the no-return edict was “Company Policy” and that she, poor thing, was “just following orders,” as the familiar refrain goes.
Company policy is the big trump card.
As a result, I was left mumbling away like one of those sad street people you often see talking to themselves.
“Poor bastard,” I heard someone whisper.
He had it nailed.