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99-Cent Box, Part 1

The time was sometime in October 1997. The place was Fry's Electronics, Fountain Valley, Orange County, California. I had just acquired a new computer -- well, actually an old used 486 machine running at 33MHz, but it was "new" to me -- and I was eager to buy certain accessories, such as a mouse, a mouse pad, floppy disks, and a floppy-disk storage box.

Fry's electronics is known all over southern California as having the best selection and prices of any computer/electronics store. It is also known as having the weirdest architecture, and the slowest and surliest service.

The Fountain Valley store is all done up on the inside with phony "Ancient Greek" architecture, with larger-than-life "Greek" statues on a ledge about 20 feet above ground level, all around the single giant interior room, which is about 500 feet wide by 400 feet deep by 30 feet tall -- about six million cubic feet!

I arrived at the store with my friend Mike David, and we preceded to cruise the store, looking at everything, including the computers, monitors, mice and mouse pads, keyboards, RAM, CPUs, video cards, scanners, printers, 19" SGVA monitors, electronic components, tools, radios, TVs, boom boxes, home stereo equipment, CDs, Video tapes, software, games, operating systems, office software, carrying cases, books, magazines, candy (a huge selection), snacks, soft drinks, clothing, furniture, medicines, condoms, etc. (I told you Fry's has a wide selection for a computer store!)

Among the items I selected for purchase were two mouses (mice?), two mouse pads, some 1.44 MB disks, a package of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, a can of Coke, and a small off-white plastic disk-storage box on sale for $0.99.

And then it happened!

I exited the disk-storage-box aisle, and stepped briskly into the main aisle, without really looking carefully both directions. After all, this is just an electronics shop, not a freeway, right? There was no real danger of collision with anything, right??? Wrong! The instant I stepped into the main aisle I was hit very hard by a very-large, very-heavy, fast-moving object. I saw stars as this behemoth slammed into my left knee, my left shoulder, and the left side of my head. I flew through the air and hit the ground hard on my right side and belly, bruising all the rest of my body parts which weren't already bruised by the initial collision. All the various paraphernalia I had in my hands went flying in all directions, and the 99-cent disk-storage box went skittering across the floor, coming to a stop about 40 feet away. I looked up and saw, with blurred vision, the vague visage of the person who had just slammed into me. He was a male Caucasian, about 6' 6", 250LB. All the other details (including his face) were a blur. I wouldn't recognize him if I saw him again. He glanced briefly at me, then strode briskly over to the 99-cent box on the floor, stared at it for a second, then loudly yelled, to no-one in particular, "NINETY-NINE-CENT BOOOXXXXX!!!!!!!" Then he immediately strode off in the direction of the checkstands at the (apparently-normal-for-him) rate of 5 MPH, leaving me lying dazed on the floor.

I gathered my breath and slowly, painfully crawled up off the floor and regained a (somewhat shaky) standing position. I had severe bruises on my left knee, right buttock, and left shoulder, along with a moderate concussion and a migraine headache. But I collected all my stuff, including the 99-cent box, and headed to the checkstand to pay for my purchases.

For a change, I didn't get into any yelling matches or fist-fights with the cashier, who was actually able to ring up my purchases, and do it correctly, in about one minute. (An EXTREME rarity for Fry's.) Apparently the Fry's God figured he had punished me enough for one visit. I went home and nursed my wounds, and put my disks in my 99-cent box. Thus ends "the saga of the 99-cent box".

Or does it??? Maybe not. See part two.


Written Sunday December 6, 1998 by Robbie Hatley.

Last updated Sunday April 22, 2007.

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