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I have been thrifty since I could throw my money at a cash register. I’ve sought the grimiest, greasiest places in search of magical pieces of fabric. There’s the Salvation Army, Goodwill, Savers, Plato’s Closet and those little, overpriced boutiques that up-charge their lavish donations. I’ve become particularly good at rummaging through matured textiles, but it took much error in judgement to acquire the eyes I have today. 

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” was my shopping motto. The follow up motto was, “also, don't open the book.” I didn’t even try most things on. If I liked the texture or design of the fabric I might scoop it up. If it didn’t fit I could just turn it into something else. I was not and am not a seamstress, so that never actually happened.

A particularly insidious place is "Goodwill By The Pound." A trash emporium where donations go straight from someone’s garbage bag, and on to, what retailers call “the floor.” In this case, that’s where the items look like they came from. It was in one of these chaotic pigsties that reality pugnaciously approached me. Reality was a disgruntled woman, probably in her forties, and definitely named “Karen.”

I was walking through this god-forsaken, underbelly of a thrift shop, digging through the junk troughs, and came across a teal, zip-up vest. I plucked it from the pile because... everything goes with teal. That’s when she approached me. The conversation began with an interrogation, “did you take that out of my cart?” She grabbed at the vest and stood inside of my personal bubble.

“No,” I responded awkwardly. I tried my hardest to suppress the anger I could feel bubbling to the surface. My contempt manifests itself in one of two ways: you can either hear it in my voice or see it in my brows. Unable to control both forms of nonverbal communication, I scrambled as far away from her without leaving the store.

This insolent brute of a person made her way over from across the store. She tapped me on the shoulder and proudly announced, “I remember! I put that down because,” she lifted up the goddamn vest again, “this has a hole in it.” Clearly, she felt it was a good use of time to shame me for a vest she originally thought I stole. Apparently, it wasn’t on par with her upper class, dumpster-diving standards.

Why did she do this? Hell if I know. Will I let it go? Absolutely not. People like this must be stopped, but fear not. We can also learn from these creatures. In fact, Karen took me to school that day. Did I buy the teal vest? Sure I did, but I learned that the cover of a book is usually an accurate indicator of what lies within. Karen, was willing to fight with me while buying clothes by the pound, and that's the kind of passion I think we should all aspire to have in our lives. After all, if you're not willing to die for a vest that couldn't possibly match anything in your closet you mine as well not shop at all.

Judge A Book By It’s Cover.: Project
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