The Washington Times-Herald

Columns

August 24, 2013

Shopping at the P&TO

After signing on as a substitute teacher, the young man was preparing to leave the school office when a female staffer suggested he might want to check out the nearby P&TO.

At first he thought she was talking about a grassroots educational organization but she said no, what she meant was the “Parents and Teachers Outlet”, a nearby boutique known to some area adults as “The Bizarre Bazaar,” and to the local student population as “The Little Shop Of Horrors.”

The shop was sandwiched between a tavern and a tattoo parlor only a couple of blocks away so after talking with the staffer a while longer the young man walked down the street and entered the tiny establishment. The proprietor, a 60ish, overweight bald man wearing glasses and watching the MLB Network on the store television, greeted him warmly.

According to the female staffer the proprietor had once been a sub but had taken a leave of absence and spent the better part of a year undergoing intensive anger management therapy in another county. After being cleared by his doctors and the local constabulary he returned to the area and opened the P&TO.

His motivation, the female staffer told him, had less to do with profit than with a genuine desire to assist parents and teachers with the educational development of the area’s school children.

As an on-field reporter began interviewing a St. Louis Cardinal player on the television, the proprietor swore under his breath, switched off the set and rose to assist his customer.

The young man lifted a box from a display and examined it briefly. “Seriously?” he asked, turning, holding the box for the proprietor to see. “Popeil’s Pocket Renal Scanner?”

Chuckling, the proprietor took the box from the man and opened it. “Saved the profits from the fishing gizmo and invested in this,” he said, then reached into the box, removed a device resembling a cell phone and turned it on. Lights twinkled followed by a series of beeps.

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