After spending an enjoyable morning at the mall, my kids and I ventured to the card store to choose a birthday card for their grandmother. Moods were even, tummies were full. I had no reason to think we would have anything but a peaceful retail experience.
I wheeled the stroller, which seats one child in front of the other, up the aisle of the card store and zeroed in on the Birthday section. Then it began. It was as if my kids were responding to some anti-parent starter’s gun that only toddlers can hear. They both began grabbing cards from the racks. And in what I can only describe as a planned tactical measure to make my plight to return the cards impossible, they both grabbed from different sides of the aisle.
Congratulations on your Baby Girl and Happy Birthday Dad cards were flying into the stroller and all over the floor. It was like a kaleidoscope of golf tees and baby carriages. My two hands were no match for their very determined four. I must have resembled Lucille Ball in the I Love Lucy episode where she works at the chocolate factory and is furiously trying to keep up with the conveyor belt of chocolates.
Flanked on both ends of the aisle, by other card shoppers, I could not even whisk the kids out of the aisle and stop the greeting card bleeding. It felt like one of those war movies where the bullets fly in slow motion, hitting the target who is slowly jolted from the impact and someone yells out a deep, distorted “Nooooooooooooooooooooo!” before he eventually hits the ground.
Somehow, I managed to liberate the cards from my kids and seek pity from a trio of twenty-something women shopping for baby cards who moved so I could be free from the aisle.
Now it was time to pay the piper. Well, she was more of a saleswoman than a piper, but you know what I mean.
I was the only person in line when I approached the counter and handed the woman the pile of twenty plus cards that my children had collected. She had a perplexed look on her face when I explained that I would be only too happy to put them away, however, the minute I entered the aisle, I would no doubt return with twenty more.
I singled out the one card, Congratulations on your Baby Girl with the pink baby carriage on the front and told her that I needed to purchase this particular card, because one of the kids had ripped the envelope. (FYI–I know exactly who did it, I just change the names to protect the not so innocent)
When the saleswoman went to put the card into a bag, I told her that she could keep it. Confused, she looked at me. I told her that I was only buying the card because my child had ripped the envelope.
“Don’t worry about it,” she replied. And that’s where I was confused, and went on to explain to her that I needed to pay for the envelope, and did not think it was okay for us to come into her store and damage her merchandise.
“It’s an envelope,” she replied, which puzzled me more, because I was pretty sure that particular detail was never up for debate. And with that, she reached under the counter and showed me a battered cardboard box, filled with at least 100 envelopes of all sizes and colors.
“It’s just an envelope,” she repeated. I thanked her, and I let it go.