Something weird happened to me today while the Bean and I were trying to escape this summer heat at our local Super-Temple of Consumerism.
At least seven other harrassed looking mothers bumped pram-wheels with me on the way to the parents room. Several nosy school-aged children asked their parents why ‘that baby’ was crying while I tried to look serene and capable instead of totally and utterly fed up that my little darling hates the pram as much as being carried and hates water as much as milk and hates bread as much as well… anything other than yoghurt, apparently. We weren’t the only ones taking advantage of air conditioning on a massive scale.
But none of that is weird. It’s all just digression, which no doubt you’ve come to expect from this particularly undisciplined writer.
Anyhow, the weird thing happened at Pester Power R Us, my favourite place to go when I feel like sniping about the aisles and aisles of pink dollies and tea sets (knowing full well that it is only a matter of time before I’ll be forced to stop smugly buying my daughter trucks to play with because she’ll acquire her very own pestering ability). The Bean hates to shop – at the moment – and I knew I wanted to buy her a ball, so naturally I found one of those first so she’d have something to distract her.
A few more purchases later (it’s birthday party season) I was merrily chatting to the cashier and almost forgot that we hadn’t paid for Bean’s new favourite toy. The check-out girl was unperturbed and happy enough not to take it from her (could have been compassion, could have been fear of slobber) but in any case, it had no barcode. Or price tag. Bugger. Every parent-with-pram fears the price-check. They invariably take ages and, stuck in the aisle, there’s no way to dim the screams when boredom sets in.
Evidently, this particular shop assistant wasn’t too fond of the price-check either. ‘What do you think it’s worth?’ she asked me.
Wow. Way to put me on the spot. Given that it was probably made in China from GHB and melamine and will probably be repossessed by the dog and shredded in two minutes flat when we get home, I thought, it can’t be worth more than about 20cents. But, given that it’s bought me at least 10 minutes of quiet, contented baby time, it might as well be made of gold. How can you put a price on that?
In the time that it took me to think all of that, the cashier got bored. You can’t blame her – it’s an affliction all the young people have. Anyway, she said in her oh-my-god-I’m-so-bored voice ‘$2.95 sounds okay’.
And that was okay with me. In fact, it would be okay with me if all retail workers treated their place of employment like a stall at a rummage sale. Being forced to take refuge from the heat would be an infinitely more enjoyable and less costly experience.
I might have even bought a ball for the dog.