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“It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease a patient has.” - Sir William Osler

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    Sunday, December 16, 2018
    In Praise of Five and Dimes

    It's the holiday season, which for many of us in the workforce means it's Secret Santa time. Most offices have a self-appointed Holiday Fun Organizer, and my office is no exception. I use the term without snark, as I am grateful to these people; if I were in charge of holiday decorating and activities, nothing would ever get done.

    You know the drill with Secret Santa. There are variations but basically you draw names out of a hat and gift the person with a few nice things. (If the organizer is organized, so to speak, you are also provided with a list of gift preferences written by your victim giftee.) You hope that karma operates equally and that you will get something you actually want, while trying to provide the same to the person whose name you drew.

    But while I enjoy this tradition, it does add yet more errands to my ever growing list. Where do you go that's quick, convenient and hopefully one-stop shopping  to get these items? How do you find something useful, inexpensive, tasty, sparkly... if you're really lucky, all of the above in one single gift? Why, the stores that used to be known as five and dimes. In the States, Woolworth's and Newberry's were good examples of such stores. The term comes from the fact that many items in these stores could be bought for five or ten cents. The old chains no longer exist for the most part, but similar stores exist and are now known as dollar stores. Drug stores carry many of the same items.

    In the past week I've hit a few of these stores and come away newly impressed. Their virtues are many and they're extremely popular: Their parking lots were jammed. What did I see there: Kids' toys, wrapping paper and decorations, food (I found a kale salad at one). Candy, lots of it. Candy canes (does anyone even eat these?), storage items including the disposable food storage containers I had been looking for all week, cleaning supplies, ornaments... you name it. My favorite were the near-generic cookies labeled "Break Time" distributed by a bakery I had never heard of. Need a carb to go with your work caffeine? A Break Time cookie will do the job.

    Inside the dollar store you'll see families, lots of them, doing their excited holiday shopping. You'll hear many different languages. I'm reasonably certain that I was the only native English speaker in my checkout line, and I was truly amazed to hear Russian and Chinese as well as Spanish. I was part of the gotta-get-ready-for-the-holidays rush and I enjoyed it.

    Some folk may dream of the Lexus in the driveway come December 25. The rest of us shop at the dollar store. I'm happy to be among them.

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