The Corner

Debacle on 34th Street

Life is just one disappointment after another. Heading back across Manhattan to Penn Station yesterday from National Review, I had the idea to stop in at Macy’s to buy my Christmas jigsaw puzzle. Inquiring at the entrance, I was told that toys are on the eighth floor. Up the escalators I went. Sure enough, there on the eighth floor was a modest alcove containing piles of teddy bears and a rather unimpressive model train running round and round on a table. On the other side of the alcove was a huge chinaware-and-glass department.

I mooched around a bit, then accosted one of the sales assistants in the teddy-bear alcove.

Me:   Excuse me, is this the entire toy department?She:  This is it.Me:   But this is, like, Macy’s.She:  I get this a lot.

So there you are. The entire toy department at Macy’s — at Macy’s!  in Herald Square!  at Christmas! — is about the size of your kitchen.

That chinaware department aside, the rest of Macy’s eight floors were filled, so far as I could see, with clothes. Who needs so many clothes? You put on T-shirt and drawers, shirt and pants, a sweater if it’s cold, socks if you’re going out … This needs eight vast floors of a department store to provision? The missus buys my clothes. “Here, I got this for you. Try it on, see if it fits …” It invariably does. Clothes are a smaller part of my life than jigsaw puzzles. I go whole weeks, I am sure, without thinking about clothes at all. Eight floors!

The only compensation for my disappointment was riding the Macy’s escalators. From the fourth floor on up, they are the old wooden ones, with wooden treads underfoot. Some things endure. Just not toy departments.

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