A few years ago I needed a 220-volt, 15-amp on/off switch for a machine. A quick trip to the local electrical supply house was all it took.
Now I need another. But that local electrical supply house is no more. A search of the Yellow Pages produced another nearby so off I went. Got there, waited in line and finally got to my turn.
I explained to the guy what I needed. He pulled out his catalog and flipped to the page on which was pictured exactly what I was looking for. Bingo. I'll take one. "Oh," he says, "we don't actually stock those here. You have to go online to our website and order one from there. They'll ship it to you."
Now normally I would prefer to go online and order something. It can be done right from my desk with no traveling or looking for a parking space. But in this case, it was frustrating to not be able to buy a simple item that normally would be an off the shelf item. In the spirit of pure optimism, I made a quick stop at a couple of big box stores on the way home. A futile effort to be sure and another instance in which Mark Twain's "curtain of charity" should be drawn.