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I would be the first to admit I am far too kind to the city's $2 stores.
They are strong in some areas - if you are preparing for a fancy dress party look no further - and the prices are ludicrously cheap.
But they sell ludicrous things too. And two weeks ago, one of them sold me an item that was so ludicrously ludicrous
I nearly called the police.
We had been working hard scrapbooking.
All manner of Playhouse Children's Theatre cuttings and programmes were being systematically cut and pasted.
Then the glue stick ran dry. I have always been an Amos man when it comes to glue sticks.
Their labels come in two languages, English and French, which is perfect for a multi-linguist like myself, and they do a solid job.
However during one of those querulous retailing moments that plague me every day and finish up costing me far more than I thought I was saving, I elected to change brands, I elected to enter one of the $2 stores.
And there I found a set of five for a mere $2.50.
They were much smaller, and the labels were in only one language, but the price was irresistible.
They were made in China, so I knew reliability would be their middle name.
In addition, the label proclaimed they were safe, clean and washable.
I left the store convinced I had purchased one of the finest items in all my purchasing life.
That night I returned to adhesion, Whist glue stick in hand.
I ask very little of a glue stick, especially when affixing paper to paper.
A lightly wetted finger from the tongue can generally attach newsprint to a scrapbook page, so my initial pasting was just a light skim.
That the paper curled up behind me as I skimmed and refused to glue was only of mild significance, probably astrological, something to do with the position of the moon.
It also showed potential as a magic trick for a children's party, come and see the glue that doesn't glue, like the little candles what keep re-lighting themselves on the birthday cake. So I pressed again, a tad angrily this time. Again, nothing.
Yes the glue stick substance was safe, clean and washable. It just didn't stick. At all.
Ironic, wouldn't you say, for something called a glue stick.
How on earth can a store sell something that doesn't work?
I went back to the $2 store, irate and trembling.
‘‘How can you sell something that doesn't work?'' I yelped, like a yelping, irate and trembling person.
The man didn't understand the question.
I pulled out the Stickless Stick and whanged it on a piece of paper, doubled it over, and watched triumphantly as the paper leaped back open.
The man behind the counter widened his eyes to a point when they were almost spontaneously combusting.
‘‘Your glue stick what isn't a glue stick did that,'' I retorted.
‘‘I am not an acclaimed children's party magician. There is no glue on the stick.''
I got a refund.
That same week, our Prime Minister was in China trying to extend our pithy trade deal.
He was unsuccessful. How could this be so?
My taxes pay for his skilled advisers, and they would have made sure the first thing he brought to the table would have been the pup China had sold us, the sticks that don't glue.
You owe us one, China, John Key would surely have said even before the delegates sat down.
The faux glue sticks were never mentioned. How can you stop importation of faulty goods?
They have all sorts of measures in place for Japanese cars, though the occasional snake does turn up stuck in the engine.
Why not something similar for Chinese glue sticks?
Or, why not make it mandatory to glue snakes under the bonnet of all imported vehicles with faulty Chinese glue sticks so all the snakes would fall out before they were put in the container? Makes sense innit?
Don't ban the $2 store. Make it an election issue.
Governments have been torn from their moorings for far less.
●Roy Colbert is a Dunedin writer.