Fifteen minutes into an in-depth audit of the card aisle at a western Toronto Shopper’s Drug Mart, Adam Grachtmoest is losing hope he will find a scripted message, written by a stranger, that will do justice to his annually expressed appreciation of his mother.
“Excuse me, where is the ‘In lieu of $250,000 please accept this card,’ section?” he asks a passing sales associate. She keeps walking.
“I’m just not feeling these,” he says to no one in particular, though four other shoppers nod sympathetically. Encouraged by their tacit support, Adam continues his thought.
“I know for a fact my mom has lost over five years’ worth of accumulated sleep on my account. Where is the card that says thanks for that? Or the one that says ‘Hey I really appreciate you keeping every single thing I wrote, made, read, or sneezed on from the age of zero to nineteen.’ I know space is limited in your new condo so that’s probably a pretty good indicator that you sure do love me and I really appreciate that.”
The nodders are nodding more now, lame-ass cards dangling untended in their hands as they refocus.
“What does that one say?” Grachtmoest asks one of the other shoppers.
“Um, today is your day, happy mother’s day.”
“That’s just a simple statement of fact,” Adam says, shaking his head. “No passion. No specificity. I get that Hallmark is generic spelled backwards, but come on, these are our mothers we’re talking about. Carried us in their bodies and only remind us of that when they really need to make a point. Cheered for us no matter how many lines we forgot in the Christmas concert. ‘Like’ all of our Facebook posts, even while commenting that they don’t get it. Never stopped wishing we lived a little closer. Will still answer the phone at any hour with the words ‘is everything ok?’ Blandly-drawn lilacs and the platitudes of strangers just aren’t going to cut it here.”
The nodders have dropped their cards to the floor and are thrusting their fists in the air with each statement. A brief discussion follows in which the newly-formed band of five throw around the idea of starting a greeting card company themselves. They get as far as deciding to name it Aisle Take Care Of This Cards before two members realize they’re going to be late to pick up their kids from swimming, one didn’t pay for parking and is getting antsy, and another admits that they don’t think this is really all that feasible.
Adam is again left on his own with the cards. His phone vibrates. He’s late to pick up the car from the mechanics. He sighs, and selects a pink card with bows and flowers and fourteen words of pure potpourri. It’s insufficient. He knows this. But he also knows his mom won’t mind at all.