Stop and Smell… the Buttons ???

Many of my close friends and of course, my family members, know of my fascination with buttons. I have to indulge and share a story with you. When I was very young my mother opted to buy me a doll house and a doll carriage that she had to order in August from the Sears catalog as we lived up north.

Apparently my father reminded her that I wasn’t the “doll” type person. When I was younger I used to love to play with my Mom’s buttons. Mom kept a cookie tin full of all types of buttons. I would sit for hours with the tin of buttons and muffin tins and would sort them by colours, by size, by number of holes… hours and hours I would play with my buttons.

Picture Christmas eve, my Dad wakes us up (we used to go to church the next morning) and carries me down to our real tree protecting holiday gifts. My doll house was too big to wrap, so it stood there, on the side along with a doll carriage. I apparently (so I was told, since I was only 5) played a bit with both toys. A short time went by and my mother realized I wasn’t around. They found me upstairs in my room playing…. with my buttons! Apparently she was quite upset and returned the doll house and carriage back to Sears.

I still rejoice in buttons… in fact, every 5 years Mom would give me a bag of buttons. My friend Sylvie regularly gives me bags of buttons and I even have a little bowl of buttons in my office to help me through tough conference calls. I LOVE BUTTONS!

So what does that have to do with my blog? Well today I took the bus to ONCE again, and headed to the buttons and bead shops. I wanted beads for my holiday stockings. I experienced what I would say SLOW EFFICIENCY. Used to darting through our North American stores in such speed, I found myself with a commerce that I believe might be alike that of the 60s.

I walked into one of the busiest and most abundant button shops to get my beads. I noticed a ticket dispenser at the door, so I grabbed one – I was number 25. They called out number 4. So I stood in the front part, and noticed the front windows…. HEAVEN! Button HEAVEN! bags, huge bags of hundreds of buttons could be seen! I stood there and took pictures and remembered my young days. Notice the BIG large bag is only $10 pesos – that’s $2.50 cents for all those buttons!

10 minutes passed when I heard my number called. I headed to the counter and once I told the person what I wanted, she positioned me in another line, specifically in front of the beads and button person. Another 10 minutes went by while I looked around and admired the many boxes with their buttons proudly displayed on their front side.

Look at these! Isn’t this just beautiful! Coloured buttons in all sizes, of all types… A button lover’s perfect location! The minutes went by and I, normally rushing to get things done, just looked at the all the styles, colours, forms, types… I found myself next in line. I explained what I needed while taking out my stocking in progress (of course I had brought it, I’m a type A and have little memory!). All at once, I was surrounded by at least 5 people wanting to see what I had done. I explained in my best Spanish that this was one of 8 and I intended to finish them for the holidays.

The button lady (as I will call her) brought me to the back where all the beads were displayed in a thick book with pages covered in sewn on beads of all sizes. We determined the ones I needed and she headed to the back and after a few minutes (are you keeping track of time?) came back with a paper bag full of beads. She handed me a hand written note and asked me to head to the cashier.

You heard me right! Cashier! You see, they don’t do it all at once. All roles are specific to the tasks. I stood in line with 11 other people waiting to get my turn to pay. I looked around and took it all in. I looked at the beads, the ribbons, the threads and yes, more buttons. I finally got to the cash and found out my treasured bundled cost a whole $ 4.50 cents. Here is my “loot” for the day!

So what did I discover today? I would say that even though I spent more than 20 minutes in the store just for my loot (which I value a lot, since my stockings will have a little “Argentina” on all of them) is that time was irrelevant. I enjoyed every moment of my shopping experience. While I would have usually picked something, walked quickly to the cash and left, today was a time to relax, observe and enjoy the ineficiency (time wise) but totally joyful experience.

Do you find yourself frustrated in line? Do you wish you could just get your business done and leave? Perhaps it takes a situation such as the one I experienced today to know that speed isn’t always the best thing… I enjoyed the experience and stopped and looked, admired, remembered, enjoyed, observed and lived in the moment…

2 thoughts on “Stop and Smell… the Buttons ???

  1. Sylvie,
    I too have treasured memories of playing with a box of buttons. In fact, the same cookie tin of buttons that Paul’s grandmother had for him to play with as a young boy is in my possession. Most of them were salvaged off coats and shirts as Newfoundlanders did not waste anything back then. And a lot of them are destined for button quilts in the near future! Today, our children have their own button collection as they use it for “money” to play cash register at their Cozy Cafe.

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