Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

image of video tape The Quiet Man

Every Saturday morning for at least a month, maybe two, I’ve been picking over the VHS tapes on the shelves of the Saint Vincent de Paul thrift store looking for a copy of The Quiet Man, John Ford’s mash note to Ireland, and every weekend I’ve been disappointed. The shelves are loaded down with hundreds of tapes every time I visit, but mostly with newer movies, and usually crap like Mission: Impossible 7 or whatever the latest sequel is. It takes a lot of picking to find a golden oldie like The Quiet Man and they’re so rare it’s easy to get discouraged, but I keep looking because just about the time I lose heart and start to believe the thrift store tape aisle has finally become sequel hell, I run across a classic.

The Quiet Man has, however, long eluded me.

Until yesterday, when I was walking up State Street and I noticed a Goodwill store that I hadn’t seen there before. It might be a new store or, more probably, it has always been there and I just haven’t been paying attention. A glance through the window told me there was a big bin of VHS tapes on sale, so I stepped inside and got to work shuffling through them. And what do you know: There was a copy of The Quiet Man at the bottom of the last bin. The search was over. I raised a note of thanks to the muse of thrift, then presented myself with my new prize at the checkout.

“They’re two for one,” the cashier told me. “Go ahead and pick out another one.”

I almost told him I was so happy finding this I didn’t really want another one, but I don’t like to refuse hospitality, even in a thrift store, so I went back to the bin and came away with a copy of Ocean’s Eleven, the George Clooney version, not the Dean Martin version.

“Seven ninety-five,” the cashier announced, after totaling it up. I thought that was a bit much, but I’d been looking for this movie for a while so I didn’t argue. After handing me my change the cashier hesitates a moment, pointed to my hat and asked, with a ring of doubt in his voice, “You bought that here, right?”

Most of my hats look like thrift-store bargains, so I could understand why he might’ve thought that. “No,” I answered, “I came in wearing that.”

“Really?” he said, and started fumbling in his pockets, finally bringing out a set of keys that he used to unlock the cash register.

Then the light went on for me. (I’m kind of slow sometimes.) “Did you charge me for the hat?” I chuckled.

“Yeah,” he said. ”I’m really sorry.” He really was, too, acting as if he’d just done something unforgivably rude and was worried I’d make a huge stink about it.

“No worries,” I told him as he handed my money back to me. After voiding the first transaction and ringing it up again the two movies came to a buck fifty, making my beat-up straw hat worth about five and a half bucks at thrift store prices. And now I know that, the next time I get a hat to wear while I’m working in the yard, I should find one at the thrift store, because buying new cost me five times that.

Hats Off! | 12:14 pm CST
Category: daily drivel | Tags: ,
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