April 9, 2010

lessons learned at the dollar store

I picked the big kids up from school this afternoon and instead of going home, I embarked on a little adventure. I surprised my offspring with a trip to the dollar store in a town about a half hour away. When we arrived in the parking lot I told them they could each picked out two things. Whatever they wanted. El Fuego asked "even it costs a 100 dollars". Ha-Ha, my little red head friend, I responded "everything is only a dollar so you can pick out any two things your little heart desires." This was an amazing concept for the kids. The store is the limit and they could choose any two things they wanted.

I thought this would be a fun way for them to rationalize what was really important to them. Did they really want the plastic water gun over the box of cookies? Would a rubber dolphin be more fun than the pack of Sara Bella cards? The decisions. The strategies. It was fun to watch.

And then....

Then... THEN! El Fuego announced he had to use the bathroom. BADLY!!! Too bad to hold it and wait.

We roamed the store looking for that magic door with the unisex block people. No luck. I found a dollar store employee and asked if there was a bathroom in the store. She told me there wasn't one and the nearest one was down the strip at an Asian restaurant. She apologized a few times and then went on her way.

I led my three children down the sidewalk and opened the door to the restaurant we were told to go to. The man behind the counter was NOT friendly. Not friendly at all.

I told the obvious owner of our situation and he began to argue with me about the elusive dollar store's bathroom location. I stopped Mr. Miyagi mid sentence and told him "The dollar store employee told us they didn't have a bathroom. My son has an emergency and they told us to come here. Now can we use your bathroom or would you rather clean up urine off your floor?" He agreed reluctantly. Upon leaving, I told him "Thank You (!) for understanding" and he didn't say a word. Of course.

We continued our big shopping adventure and slowly walked down almost every aisle. It didn't take long before I got the sense we were being followed. A young man, dressed like the very last place he should be is the dollar store was lurking around corner after corner. Working my way through college at a retail establishment myself, I determined he was security for the store not a customer. I think the time he spent browsing the craft paper with green flowers gave him away for sure. I really couldn't believe it. I was showered, dressed in clean clothes, none of my kids were running around the store screaming and I wasn't yelling across poorly displayed rows of cheap plastic toys that somebody was going to get their "asses beat if they didn't stop doing that right now."

None the less, after much deliberation, each child had two things they wanted to leave the store with. I even found coconut cups for Miss Divine's under the sea birthday party. Everyone was happy. Everyone except the gal behind the dollar store's cash register. Not that I expected her to be giddy, but at the very least friendly. She wouldn't make eye contact with me and refused to smile. I made a point of trying to break the ice by asking her how her day was going; to which she barely squeaked out an answer, opening her lips only enough to push out "fine" between her teeth. I quickly realized her resentment (if that's what it was) towards me was purely because of our different skin colors which somewhat surprised me.

We left with our bags of goodies while my mind reeled and my children oblivious to all the things that happened to us in the hour we spent in a town that is not our own. On the drive home I decided that my life might not be perfect. I'm not rich. I'm not the weight I wish I could be. My car isn't brand new. I'm often tired and my house is often messy. But, you can bet your bottom I am very, very, very happy I don't work at the dollar store. I don't have mean Asian men arguing the whereabouts of bathrooms. And, the people I encounter from day to day are for the most part in good spirits and pleasant.

I entered the dollar store to kill some time and empower my children's independence. I left the dollar store feeling lucky and good about myself. Who knew.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

WOW! That was QUITE the trip!