My wife and I have been shopping around for a new video camera. Because I hate the “shopping” part of any new purchase — going store to store, comparing makes and models and prices and options — we divide the responsibility like this: she does the reconnaissance work (the “shopping”), narrows our choices down to two, and then I swoop in to assist on the final decision (the “buying”).

She had completed her part, identifying our options and the store in which we’d buy the camera. Now, it was my turn, which I was going to handle solo. It seemed so easy.

After work on Friday, I went to the store, armed with the information she had gathered and the name of the salesperson who helped her. We figured that if that clerk was there at the beginning of the process, they should be there at the end and get the commission. When I got there, a salesperson asked, “Can I help you?” I replied, “Yes, I’m looking for Tony.” He said, “Oh, Tony, sure, I’ll get her.”

Her? Okay, I guess it’s Toni, not Tony. Doesn’t matter. A couple of minutes went by, and Toni hadn’t shown up. Another clerk asked, “Can I help you?” I responded, “No, thanks, I’m waiting for Toni, but I appreciate the attention.” The clerk said, “Okay, I’m sure she’ll be here in a minute.”

A few more minutes passed, and I still hadn’t talked to Toni, although I did see a saleswoman down the counter dealing with a customer. I assumed that was Toni, and since she was busy, I told the first salesguy I had encountered, “It looks like she’s in the middle of something and I don’t want to wait, so can you help me?” Ron was more than happy to assist me.

He patiently spent the next fifteen minutes going over the difference between the two camcorders we were considering, explaining the features, discussing the pros and cons of this and that, and generally doing a great low-pressure sales job. Halfway through, Toni came over, apologized for being stuck with another customer and making sure that Ron was taking care of me. I assured her he was, and she left us alone to go deal with yet another customer.

Finally, I decided which camcorder was best, took the plunge, and bought the thing. Ron filled out the paperwork and, when he heard my name, said, “I thought I recognized your voice.” It turned out he listens to my show. Although this didn’t get me any special discount (I bet he wouldn’t treat Ryan Seacrest this way!), we did chat for a few minutes. As we wrapped up the transaction, I asked if he’d get a nice big chunk of the rather large amount I had just charged to my credit card. He replied, “Well, I’ll get some of it, and Toni will get some of it.” That’s good, I thought. Sharing the sale is good store policy.

When I got home, my wife approved of my choice (I had a 50/50 chance!). I told her the whole story of Ron taking Toni’s place but still sharing his commission with her, and remarked, “Isn’t that nice, that she’ll get something for starting this ball rolling, even though he’s the one who finished it?”

My wife stared at me. It’s the stare every husband knows. It’s the “you’re an idiot” stare. Then she blurted out, “I never dealt with a saleswoman named Toni at that store. I talked to a salesman named Tony at their other store! The one across town!!”

In other words, Toni is going to get a commission on a sale she never had anything to do with in the first place! Oops. Sorry about that, Ron!

The bottom line is that my wife is thrilled to have the new camcorder. Not thrilled enough to want to go upstairs and emulate Paris Hilton with it, but happy.

As for Tony, he’ll have to contact Toni for his piece of the pie.