I wandered through gray metal shelves filled with plastic flowers, rolls of ribbon, stacks of unfolded corrugated boxes. I picked one up, folded it and made my way through the door to the counter.
It didn't fit.
So I picked up the magazine rack and headed back in, only to find there were no unfolded boxes any larger. Then I saw one, a huge box standing under a bow-making machine. It was full of unfolded gift boxes, but it was big enough.
I began to unload it, stacking the box lids and bottoms on the bow-making machine, stacking them and stacking them until I finished and when I stood up with my huge empty box, all the stacked pieces crashed down, making a pyramid around me.
I might as well have been watching a rerun of "I Love Lucy."
I might as well have been home in bed.
I should have been because when I was trying to pull the silver paper off the huge roll in the corner, I broke my thumbnail and cut my finger. But I got the package wrapped in time to go home.
Heading down the security stairs ("Didn't they tell you about the security stairs?"), Karen said, "I hope you got enough parking stickers."
"Parking stickers?" I answered weakly.
"Don't tell me nobody told you about parking stickers. . . ."
Naturally, they didn't, so $2.50 later I finally was on my way home, my thumb throbbing, my feet aching, my head spinning.
I didn't go back.
But I am sure that Karen did, and thousands of others like her who will wait on me today, tonight, this Christmas, as they have waited on you and me all the days of our lives.
The only difference is that I think I will really look at each person who helps me and when I say thank you, as I always do, I will really mean it.