The only machine in for repair is an old Electrolux.
“The large bags, right? the vacuum guy asks.
“Yeah, for the orange Samsung.”
He gets out four packages of bags instead of the usual two from the box behind his chair and puts them on the table. “I’ve gotta tell you something,” he says. “I’m closing this store on December first. I’ve been losing money.” He gestures toward the wall, which used to be cluttered with machines in need of repair—now there is only one, an old Electrolux. “No one brings their vacuums in to get fixed any more, and why should they when they can get a new one for a hundred bucks.”
“What are you going to do?” I ask.
“I got a job at Future Shop. My stepson told me about it. He said, ‘Dad, you ought to go see the manager at the Regent Street Future Shop. He’s got something for you.’ So I phoned the manager. No, not the manager, the team leader, that’s what they call them now, and I made an appointment to see him. And he told me that he wants me to run the appliance division of the store.
“They’ve got a huge appliance division at Regent Street. They sell name brands—expensive stuff. Some of those refrigerators, the ones that make ice and have triple doors, cost more than three thousand bucks.” The vacuum guy says that the inventory in that one store alone, counting computers and cameras, is about thirty-three million dollars, give or take a million or so. “But the trouble is, and this is what the team leader told me, that they only have young people there and they need people like me who have some experience to teach them how to sell.
“There’s no more hard sell these days, no bum’s rush. No, now you just go up to the customer and ask him if he needs any help and then tell him where he can find you if he has any questions.
“So that’s the story, that’s why at age sixty I’m closing up the store to start a new job at Future Shop. I can tell you, it makes me nervous.”
“You’ll do fine,” I tell him.
“That’s what the wife says. I hope you’re both right. Now how many packages of vacuum bags do you want? They won’t go bad, you know.”
“I’ll take six,” I tell him.
The vacuum guy throws in an extra package. He walks out to the stoop with me as I’m leaving. We shake hands.
“You’re a nice man,” he says.