It had been years since I had a new cashmere cardigan. My old one was ten years old, and moths had eaten holes through the hood. I’d been looking for a replacement for months, and wandered into a local boutique where I saw it on the sale rack. It was really soft.
I had a hard time justifying the cost. Even on sale, it was $200, but once every ten years, it was worth it. As I handed my credit card to the blonde, German owner of the boutique, she said, “This is the worst day ever. My toilet is broken, and the landlord won’t fix it. He’s probably a Muslim.”
My mouth dropped open. In Marin, we pride ourselves on being unbiased and liberal. I was too astounded to react. She wrapped my cardigan in white tissue paper.
“He’s probably a Jew, he’s so stingy,” she laughed. The blood drained from my cheeks.
“Well, I’m Jewish, and I just spent $200 for a sweater at your store,” I gasped.
“Well, yeah,” she agreed unapologetically. As if proving her point, I’d just bought it from the sale rack.
“I don’t want this anymore,” I started, pushing the tissue-wrapped sweater over the counter at her, “It doesn’t fit.”
Plopping the package into a white handle-bag, she shook her head and said, “Sale items are final. No returns.”
Every time I wear this cardigan, I remember day I bought it. Why didn’t I call her out for her bigotry when she said her landlord was probably a Muslim? Why did I wait until her slant against Jews to say something? Why didn’t I just leave it on the counter and call the Better Business Bureau?
“I’ll never go back there,” I tell myself, looking at my reflection in my full-length mirror. The sweater is a little long in the sleeves. It actually doesn’t fit me that well. I take the cardigan off and put it into the basket bound for Goodwill. I shrug on my denim jacket instead. It doesn’t look nearly as good, but it’s much more comfortable.