I recently came across a long forgotten gift card for a children’s store and I decided to use it to buy some things for my kids. Although I have been a mother for 8 years, buying children’s clothes is a new endeavor for me. My Bubbe was the shopper in the family. Apparently that is a recessive trait, or a gene that skips two generations, as my mother, my sister and I are not blessed with her patience and skill.
But Bubbe was a shopper extraordinaire. She would go into a second-hand children’s clothing shop and find entire chic outfits for $1.75. When she presented them to me she would remind me that I didn’t have to tell people where she had purchased them; that it wouldn’t hurt for others to assume that my children were expensively dressed. I don’t know what Bubbe did to deserve a granddaughter who couldn’t wait for compliments so I could say – ‘I know, it’s so cute, and can you believe my Bubbe bought it used, for 2 bucks??'
But Bubbe was taken from us a few months ago. I honestly believe that God needed a bargain buyer in the sky. And so I came to be doing my own shopping.
Once inside the store I quickly deduced that 1) retailers charge way too much money on clothes whose shelf life is measured in months (months!), and 2) 60% off of a whole lot of money is still too much to pay for something that will be on the receiving end of a projectile sneeze.
But I had a gift card (pay attention!), so I picked out a few choice items and approached the register where two customers were already in line. The first woman had a small mountain of things which she had chosen to purchase that day. But she was somewhat under confident, so before handing each item to the saleswoman she needed encouragement and support.
Do you like this?
Oh, yes, I love that color, I’m sure your daughter will too
It’s for my niece, do you think she will like it?
Yes, but she might prefer it in green, shall we look at that one again?
In this manner they scrutinized each headband and sock before getting to the bottom of Mount Accessory.
The saleswoman then asked the seemingly innocuous question, ‘do you have a coupon?’ And after spelunking through her cavernous purse the woman remembered that she had left the coupon in her car. Which she had parked in Nigeria. But she would be back really soon. Years passed.
The second women in line moved to the next register. She had a smaller selection of clothes, and while she seemed more assured of her purchases, she was struggling with what size fluffy slippers to buy her daughter. ‘I’m going to go with the 7. Yes, they will fit her fine. But, the 7.5 will fit her for longer. But they might be too big right now…Oh, how am I going to decide?’ She looked at me expectantly, and I replied, ‘I’m sorry, I was trying to set you on fire with my eyeballs. I didn’t catch what you said’.
Somehow she found the courage to choose. Then came the dreaded coupon question. Turns out she didn’t have a coupon, but she did have an ad that said if she texted a number from inside the store she would be given a discount. The problem, the saleswoman explained, was that the store had no cell phone reception. (Pause here to fully appreciate the irony.) But the other day a woman had had some luck when she stood in the doorway and held her phone out at a very precise and ridiculous angle. Always up for a challenge, woman #2 headed for the front door.
Due to cash register temperament nothing could happen while these women were out, so, as the seasons drifted by, the saleswoman turned to me. Gauging my levels of inner-rage, she acted strategically. ‘Oh your daughter is beautiful, are you interested in having her model for the store?’ I suppose I could have been flattered, but all I could think was, ‘If I let her model will you let me leave?’
Luckily, the drive back from Nigeria had gone smoothly and in waltzed customer #1, coupon in hand, barely avoiding a head on collision with customer #2 who appeared to be doing advanced yoga in the doorway.
The first customer’s confidence had flagged during her African trek, and she started to reevaluate her purchases, but the saleswoman indiscreetly motioned for her to stop by wildly pointing her head towards me and mouthing the words ‘psycho!’ with big frightened eyes.
Glory be, it was finally my turn. She rang up my purchases, skipped the coupon question entirely, and swiped my gift card. Which had a grand total of $1.32.
For the safety of us all, I am now exclusively an online shopper. And man, do I miss Bubbe.