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One Sale At A Time


by Steve

July 28, 2002

So there I was, walking back to the crack house, or in the case of my addiction, EMS. I had done so well, for so long. It had been weeks since my last gear binge. It always starts out the same way...

I bail out of studying for the Uniform Commercial Code final I have on Tuesday and head for the T (Bostonese for the subway). I jump on the B-line heading back towards Allston, the student ghetto in the shadow of Boston University. Whenever the weather is nice, I always consider jumping off early to stop in at EMS and the neighboring Bob Smith's Wilderness House. Over the last few weeks, I've been able to stay away. My last relapse resulted in a $300 bill, and I've been justifying expenditures by mortgaging future paychecks. Of course, I won't actually start working until mid-October, but that's all in the details. This time, the devil has a new sales pitch...a big sign that says "Club Day! 20% off!"

I know I'm phucked, so I jump off the train and delay the inevitable by heading to Bob Smith's first. They don't have as much gear, but they are offering forged friends at 40% off and I'm tempted to buy a pair of #4's since I need to fill out my larger size cams anyway. It's hard to resist, but the sketchy action of the cams is enough to push me out the door, but not before drooling over a new tent.

EMS. I don't waste any time perusing the clothing, I head straight for the hard stuff. Sure, I started out like everyone else, buying biner's and slings, maybe the occasional tri-cam. It wasn't long before a few biners just wasn't enough to the fill the void. I had to start buying in groups of ten to get the 10% discount just to feel something...anything. It's especially bad in the winter, when you can't climb to quell the demons. All you can do is buy more gear to remind you of happier times.

I start with two Spirit's and a couple lockers. I need them for my adjustable daisies and my aiders I tell myself. Besides, it's 20% off right? That's like having Barrabes in your neighborhood, but without the shipping and customs charges.

"Pardon me, do you have any more ovals? There are only two here..."

"Nope, everything we have is on the floor."

No JC's, no ovals, and no two foot nylons. I feel it rising up from my stomach...the pro rack is just to my left. All I have to do is turn around, and there it will be. I can see the corporate logo's dancing in my mind like so many sugarplums. No. Look away. Oooohhhh I need some slings for my hooks. Those are cheap.

"Could you cut me eight pieces of 11/16th nylon sixteen inches long when your done with that?"

I distract myself by offering some unsolicited beta on top rope anchors at a local crag. It's getting bad. I have to look. There they are. Camalots. Lots and lots of Camalots. Shouldn't they be sold out at 20% off? WTF? Wait just a second...

"Is the 20% off for Club Day on TOP of the usual 10% discount for buying four or more cams?


Mother of God. This is where I convince myself that deals like this just don't come along all that often, and that I need ANOTHER set of cams anyway for my trip to the Valley. The first one is the hardest. I'm a sucker for the .5. I swear it winked at me. Look at it...just hanging there in that sassy little purple nylon number. I feel like Humbert Humbert, flexing the trigger, looking it over with hungry eyes as the trigger bar slides along the shaft. Yes, BD knows their demographic well. Before long, .5 - 3 are hanging from my left hand, one per finger. I need a 00 TCU, might as well, as long as I'm here and the price is right. They have some aliens, but the shafts are twisted strangely, so that the loop is at a weird angle to the head. Even an addict has standards, so I pass them up.

The register. The place of reckoning. There are two cashiers, and I recognize one of them as one of my regular dealers. He's cut me a break in the past, I usually get my biners at 20% off instead of 10. Both are open, but I know where my bread is buttered. He rings it up. I make sure he put in both the 20% and the 10% discount. He hits me with the total, and I'm a little surprised. It seems low, even with the discounts. Needless to say, I hide my confusion. He double checks to make sure he got everything, in particular he counts cams.

I walk to the door, checking my receipt. It reads like a rap sheet, and mine is long....real long. I get outside and come to a startling realization. The #1 Camalot isn't on the receipt. I check the bag. There she Lady in Red.

I know in the long run, the house always wins, but I'm in control. I can handle it. I've just got to take it one sale at a time...

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Live To Climb