Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Sleep Mask

On a trans-Atlantic flight to Europe many years ago I was given a sleep mask by the stewardess.  For several years I traveled back and forth between Europe (where my parents then lived) and Toronto (where I attended boarding school). On each occasion I made a point of getting a new mask to replace the old one. Eventually however the airlines stopped providing the masks.  Frustrated, I wrote to Air Canada to enquire whether I might purchase one.  To my utter surprise I received a subsequent telephone call from a pilot.  He told me there were no masks available but that he would share one of his own with me.  He actually mailed it to me!

The mask wore out in due course.  They are traditionally not made of the highest quality.  As a result I gave up using them.  However thirty years later I stumbled upon a collection of cotton masks in a local drug store.  The items were hanging in clear plastic envelopes among a collection of ear plugs, pill boxes, nose clips and wrist bands.  I bought two.  What I liked about them in particular was that they were washable.  This proved to be an important feature because when I subsequently bought replacement masks (which were made of synthetic pseudo-silk) at the pharmacy, I discovered that the colour (normally black) bled onto the pillow case.  Fortunately I had retained two of the old cotton masks though they were becoming frightfully shabby.

At first I had to settle upon buying very cheap models of masks at the pharmacy. Sometimes I was fortunate to find slightly more exotic masks at retailers such as Winners, Target or Walmart (in the "accessories" department). But increasingly their availability was declining.  So - like every modern shopper - I finally succumbed to investigating the purchase on the internet. Even then however the quality of the product was generally inferior unless the mask was equipped with ear plugs or other extraneous add-ons which I did not want. Besides I wanted to see the actual item before purchasing it especially as the cost of shipping usually outweighed the cost of the mask.

Yesterday I telephoned a nearby bedding retailer. The clerk referred me to health stores. I began by calling our local health food store (Dandelion).  They had nothing. Accordingly I ditched the idea of solving this trifling issue. Nonetheless on my way into Stittsville to get the car washed I thought about going to Bayshore Shopping Centre to check out Hudson's Bay Company and whatever other stores might have such a thing, including the large Winners store there.  Fired by these possibilities I first went to two other outlets of Winners in Stittsville and Bells Corners neither of which had anything.  My luck did not improve at Bayshore (though I pointedly proved to myself that walking about a large mall and climbing the stairs is serious work).

Disappointed I abandoned my resolve and returned home to Almonte.  On my way there I thought about checking out Dollarama next to Patrice's grocery store.  It proved a success!  There - in Aisle 7 - I found (with the help of the clerk) a collection of sleep masks each for the extraordinary price of $1.57!  I bought eight!  Last night I used one of them.  So far, so good.  I hadn't however fully exhausted all resources.  On-line this morning I found what appears to be a superlative model at Gilchrist & Soames in London, England. Just as I was placing my order I received a telephone call from Rainbow Foods (another of the health food stores I had called yesterday).  The caller advised they had two in stock, one of which was a mute colour made of organic cotton. Picture my delight!

In the meantime I threw out the old cotton masks I've had for years as well as the cheap synthetic model I kept in the desk by the leather couch where I take my afternoon naps.

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