[ Follow-up: no frantic e-mails from my brother or my parents indicating the company owner wanted to know where I was, so either he understood that I was on holiday or else he didn't notice I wasn't in. ]
The Best Buy gift card, as well as some other gift certificates I've received for being a reasonably loyal customer (and using their credit card for routine purchases), and another gift card I got for a blood donation, all added up to a comfortable little pile of essentially free money if there were something at a Best Buy which I wanted. And there was, although it was popping in and out of stock so I had to fish around their web site to find a store with the necessary stock.
My goal was: an iPad. I thought excessively much about this, but kept coming up with pretty good rationalizations for an essentially irrational emotional desire for the thing. Well, on practical grounds, it provides that MP3-listening-tool that I didn't really have --- my old MP3 player stored 256 megabytes, but as its battery held a charge for only about ninety minutes, it wasn't very practical for listening to things --- and various little app gimmicks which I haven't exploited yet to their full potential, but that's just because I had an extremely busy June.
Attempting to buy it was a challenge even though I knew the store had one in stock. Usually I go into a store with no intention of buying anything and so am dragged into a mile-high pile of sales clerks, grabbing my legs and pulling me down in a desperate effort to be The One who Helps Me. As always, being in the store with a specific thing wanted resulted in the disappearance not just of every clerk in the section, but every clerk in the store, and possibly the retroactive omission of the idea of a ``clerk'' from the conceptual framework of Stores. I'd have gladly taken one off the shelf, taken it to the cash register, rung myself up, and paid, but I couldn't find the shelf that had any, assuming they existed.
Eventually a clerk let his cloaking device (clerking device?) fail, and I could ask her for help. She disappeared, to ask ... someone ... about iPads, and a few minutes later as I began to despair again another clerk came up, lead me over to the laptops section, took an iPad box out of the locked cages before still-feral consumer electronics could bite at passers-by, and asked if I wanted to be rung up. I figured this was the best shot I'd have for it.
I was also curious whether my purchase --- aided as it was by two gift cards and three coupons --- would amount to so much extra paperwork as to drive the clerk crazy, but he didn't mind. The only problem was my Best Buy credit card was initially read by their system as a debit card, and it wanted a nonexistent PIN. That happens a lot with the card and I don't know why.
Nevertheless, I came through it without anybody slugging me, and I wandered out into the slightly dazed world of purchaser of new and relatively high-profile consumer electronics. Wow.
Trivia: In the late 1960s talks between United Fruit and Textron about a possible merger reached the point of considering new corporate names, including Panomega, Metromega, and Corporad. Source: Bananas: How The United Fruit Company Shaped The World, Peter Chapman. And boy, ``PanOmega'', ``MetroMega'', and ``CorpoRad'' don't sound the least tiny little bit like the evil world-dominating corporations in an unspeakably awful science fiction movie, do they?
Currently Reading: Science Fiction Discoveries, Editors Carol Pohl, Frederick Pohl.