It began innocently enough. I just wanted the Sunday paper. For the coupons. I envisioned myself hopping into the car, armed only with my purse, and driving alone to our local Walgreens. I timed myself in my mind, and it would only take me 15 minutes, start to finish.
But then, the children caught wind of my plan. “ME TOO, ME TOO.” As if something wildly exciting would be happening at Walgreens on a Sunday, and they couldn’t bear to miss it. And really, why would Mommy want to EVER go anywhere by herself. Where’s the sport in that?
Resignedly, I packed my three children into the van. And off we went in search of a Sunday paper. When we arrived at Walgreens, I had trouble finding a parking space. Unusual, indeed. I put Jensen in a stroller, and grabbed a cart and gave Cailey strict instructions not to mow down any elderly patrons. A cart was a last minute thought, because I reasoned that since I was there, I would search for the two elusive items that I had rain checks for. Toilet bowl cleaner. And dryer balls.
Because my life is just exciting like that.
The store was indeed packed. Why? I don’t know, because there wasn’t a single Sunday paper. I pressed on, hoping to find the cleaner and the balls. People were lined up waiting to check out, yet somehow, behind the throngs of patrons, Jensen spotted a hotwheels display.
That’s when the screaming began. He’s really been much better about this, but, last Sunday, he pulled out all the stops, just so I would appreciate the calm and quiet Jensen all the more. All heads turned in our direction. Quickly I steered him down an aisle away from the staring eyes. The screaming intensified.
They were out of the toilet bowl cleaner as well. At about this time, a flustered Cailey began bumping the cart into the back of both Mommy and an increasingly angry older sister. And the bickering began.
Have you ever noticed how well sound travels in Walgreens?
“FORGET IT!” I abandoned the cart and quickly removed my noisy children from the store.
“But Mom, what about looking at the crutches?” Because, when you’re 8 years old, you just really never know when you’ll be in need of a pair.
“We’ll try another Walgreens,” I replied, really wanting those coupons.
Lucky for me, we have a Walgreens on nearly every corner here in Armpit, Florida. Along with furniture stores and ammo shops. It’s a great place to live if you need to fill a lot of prescriptions, while sitting in your Ethan Allen barcalounger, loading your semiautomatic.
At Walgreens stop #2, I wisely stuffed Jensen into the miniature cart provided by the store. Leaving the stroller behind in the van. My ankles were still bruised from Cailey’s driving ability in Walgreens #1. And this was a wise choice, because it put me in direct proximity to Jensen should he decide to kick, and/or hit me with his Blues Clues blanket.
This Walgreens wasn’t as popular. I soon found out why. They did have my beloved Sunday paper at the entrance. Which is the place Jensen picked up where he left off with All The Screaming. As though someone were torturing him. I received a very judgmental sneer from a rather dour looking cashier. Her eyes followed me as I quickly turned down aisle #4. No wonder no one comes here, I thought to myself, looking over my shoulder.
Emme, in an effort to calm her baby brother and thusly stopping the embarrassment, retrieved a car from the toy aisle so that he could admire it. He attempted to rip the car from the box, when I noticed the TEN DOLLAR price tag. I took it from him, and tried to talk him into holding the .79 cent hotwheels car, in vain.
Because I would never dream of rewarding bad behavior just for a few shopping moments with peace and quiet.
Oh no, not me.
Since this was evidently an unpopular Walgreens, they were well stocked, and also had my raincheck items. Lightening fast, I threw them into the cart while dodging Jensen’s kicks and air slaps. The screaming had reached the pitch that only mad dogs should hear.
We quickly headed toward the disgruntled cashier, who still held me in contempt of motherhood. I apologized to her out loud for all the screaming, as we approached. Her eyes narrowed even more, and she let out a “hmmmpphhhh”, shaking her head in disgust. At this point, Jensen was screaming, Emme was trying to calm him with, “JENSEN, NO! JUST BE QUIET, THIS IS SO EMBARRASSING. BE QUIET. BE QUIET.” And Cailey began discussing the merits of buying the Hostess Cupcakes on display at the register. Meanwhile, I was trying to explain to Ms. I-Hate-My-Job that I had rain checks for the items I was purchasing.
Because, despite chaos all around me, I can have a conversation, balance my checkbook, and mentally recite the Preamble to the Constitution.
It comes from practice. Lots and lots of practice.
Evidently, the cashier does not possess the same gift. Because she did not understand me. And became even more agitated when she had to re-ring my 3 items. And she was not one to keep her feelings to herself.
At long last, I paid for the items and was looking forward to a hasty retreat. She mumbled in a monotone voice, “Have a nice day.”
Trying to keep things light, I chirped, “Well, it can only get better from here!” I flashed my most winningest smile. She shot me a look that should have vaporized me.
Being the good Godly Christian woman that I am, I looked at her and said, “You might try a smile.” And with that, I turned and headed for the automatic door.
Only to hear, “You forgot your merchandise.”
I halted in my tracks. Dang it and crud. Turning, I went back, picked up my bag, said “thank you,” hung my head in shame, and burned the rubber off the cart wheels getting the heck out of there.
To add salt to the wound, the newspaper didn’t even have any coupons.
Help me to be a light in the world even in the midst of chaos. And please help me not to add to the darkness. And thank you for newspaper home delivery that I will be taking advantage of. Amen.”