I was skeptical. This was about the time that news of Martha Stewart's depredations became public, and I had the feeling that Martha had stolen my pictures. I imagined her sitting in her tasteful New England living room, sipping mulled cider, munching on fresh baked cranberry muffins, thumbing through my pictures, and those of thousands of other hapless K-Mart customers (and probably making derogatory comments about the quality of the pictures, and snorting, though in a very lady-like way.) It was an unpleasant thought, but seemed a perfectly logical explanation at the time.
Then, a few months passed, and my replacement film and coupon for free photo finishing had not arrived. Perhaps K-Mart, known to be on the verge of bankruptcy, was stalling. Or perhaps greedy Martha had not only my pictures, but my film and coupon, too. A few days ago, there was a call from what I thought was the local K-Mart, saying that the pictures had been found. I went into the store to pick them up, but they weren't there. Well. Lose my pictures once, shame on you. Lose the same pictures twice, what the hell is wrong with you? A couple of days later, another call from K-Mart, to tell me that if I didn't come in and pick up the pictures soon, they would be discarded. I wasn't home to get the call, but, because there were no other calls in the meantime, I was able to use *69 to find out where the call came from. Yup. It wasn't the local store at all, but the one 20 miles away in Chico. They hadn't bothered to check the envelope, which clearly showed that the film had originally been left at the Paradise store.
Apparently, they hadn't bothered to check three months ago, either, when the company had put the trace on the pictures. In the meantime, I had called the customer service number again, to tell them that the film they were supposed to send me had never arrived. (I didn't mention that I suspected Martha Stewart of waylaying it.) They apologized, and said they would send it out right away. So, it turned out that the free replacement roll of film and the coupon for free photo finishing arrived here at the same time that the pictures were found in Chico. I didn't want to make the trip all the way to Chico to pick up the pictures, so I had my sister pick them up, since she commutes there every day.
Now, when I first left the film at the store, I had a coupon good for a considerable discount from K-Mart's usual (excessive) price, but that coupon had long since expired, and I figured that, since I was getting a new coupon for free photo finishing, it would even out in the end, the price of one roll done at K-Mart being slightly less than the price of having two rolls developed at Long's Drug store. So I just went ahead and paid the full price. (At Long's, by the way, if your order is as much as one day late, they give it to you free.) But, it turned out that there was a catch.
The letter I got from K-Mart, with the "...sincere apology for the inconvenience and frustration....", had the coupon for free photo finishing printed on the lower right corner, with the instructions:
The coupon sticker below will enable you to receive your next photofinishing order free at any K-MART.
Simply peel and stick across either of the bar codes located at the bottom of the envelope.
It wouldn't peel. The coupon was printed directly onto the paper. Then, I noticed something odd about the upper left corner of the letter. Little lines in the paper. I scratched at them and, sure enough, a coupon-shaped section of the paper peeled off, right under the Kodak Pictures address. They had printed the letter upside-down! Well, I'm not so sure that I want photo finishing, even if it's free, from a company whose employees can't even put a piece of paper into a photocopier right way up! Maybe I will send their upside-down letter back to them, with a bitchy note attached. Maybe I'll just forget about it. But, either way, I guess I do owe an apology to Martha Stewart. She didn't steal my pictures, or my film, or my coupon. Aside from that little insider trading thing, all she did was lend her name to a company run by people who decorate their heads by sticking them up their bums. She loves creative originality! I can't fault her for that, now, can I?
PS- LJ spellcheck is goofy. I was in such a rush that I didn't noticce that it had changed my misspelled "photofinizhing" to "poeticizing." Not at all apropos!