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Customer Feedback (Secondhand Alchemical Goods)

Arnav is a programmer and writer living in Vancouver, BC.

Dear Sir or Madam,
I write to express my sternest dissatisfaction with your SoHo, Manhattan location.
I stopped by to ask after a Philosopher's Stone. A stone that turns lead into gold. Simple. No questions asked.
What your man gave me was a Psychologist's Stone. "This also turns lead into gold!" he exclaimed.
What he left out: "Sometimes. You see, random successes--so-called 'variable-ratio rewards'--are more engaging than a sure thing."
The morrow, I asked for a refund. The clerk offered an exchange. "The Economist's Stone is much more rational!" he said. "It works all the time."
The caveat: "The exchange rate changes to match global commodity prices. Sometimes, when gold is down, it even turns gold into lead."
I returned. He clung to your "no refunds" policy like a barnacle to a whale. "Try the Physicist's Stone," he said. "No social-science mumbo-jumbo."
What he omitted: "It works by fissioning the lead. Use without a radiation shield is ill-advised."
My next visit, I radiated fury.
He offered the Geologist's Stone (turns lead into gold ore; use sodium cyanide to purify), the Neurologist's Stone (makes lead look like gold), and the Virologist's Stone.
"It'll work," he said. "Or your money back."
That last stone is enclosed with this letter. I placed a small hex on the packaging, so it turns to lead after you finish this sentence.
Whatever made that man so confident, I hope you enjoy it.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Author Comments

This was inspired by the ecosystem of dingy little shops which sprung up around NYU, where I did my undergrad. Don't think any of them were renowned for their customer service....

- Arnav Sood
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