So this is a true story.
I've been ignoring the commands from my radio and computer to shop at small stores in my neighborhood, mostly because I don’t like being pushed around by faceless people, whether their ideas are good or bad.
On this day of my story, which incidentally was a Tuesday, I needed some books for people on my Christmas list.
So, I plugged into my computer and went to Amazon Books.
But for the third time this year, Amazon said my email was incorrect.
I’ve had the same email since they invented emails and it’s worked at Amazon until last year when it started causing problems. In the past, I’ve called their help number and waited forever. I would explain my situation to some anonymous person who eventually let me place an order.
But this time when they rejected my email, I lost my temper.
Then I called Pages, a bookstore in Manhattan Beach. They had the books I needed and offered to gift wrap and send them to me.
I happened to mention that I’d be in Manhattan Beach next week for lunch, but would be using Uber that day and doubted I could stop at the store.
“Oh where are you eating?,” asked the nice voice at the other end of the phone. “The Strand House,” I replied.
“Why that’s just a few blocks from us. Why don’t you phone me when you’re in the restaurant and I’ll run them right over.”
Could anything be more delightful? Could any service be more personal than that?
It’s a tremendous convenience to be able to find any book, any pair of shoes, any gadget on one website. And I guess it might be great to have it delivered.
In one day, though, if you pay attention to your calendar, you might be able to manage without sending some poor guy racing dangerously through rain and snow to deliver a book to your cousin Charlotte in Denver.
People have become addicted to shopping on their computers and phones.
It’s fast and easy, but it’s one reason we hear about so many lonely people nowadays. They’re spending too much time alone with their machines.
If you’re in the mood for personal shopping, I can recommend the store Mixt run by my friend Judith. It’s in a row of stores behind the Malaga Cove police station.
There are delightful gifts there, hand-chosen by Judith who has an artist’s eye. Also in Malaga Cove is Corners of the World where I buy candles, cards, puzzles and things I didn’t know I needed until I saw them.
Because I hang around the Peninsula Library, I went to their shop and bought books, jewelry and tiny dishes. The proceeds benefit our terrific library, which is a plus. Near Bristol Farms in Peninsula Center is Nantucket Crossing, also stuffed full of ideas for your Christmas list. They offer punch and cookies, too.
It’s so nice to go into these stores and be greeted warmly by a salesperson who knows the stock and can make recommendations for you.
If you’ve been feeling out of step or out of sorts this holiday season, I suggest a visit to an independent store. And if you’re looking for warm-hearted service in a bookstore, I can definitely recommend Kirstin at Pages in Manhattan Beach.