I'm a relatively well trained husband. Years ago, my wife broke me of last minute Christmas shopping. It was one of those habits I was more than happy to give up when I realized that if you shop in November you avoid the bat-shit crazy mania of Christmas shopping in the third week of December. I was therefore a little taken aback when Lisa asked me to "swing by" Toys R Us and pick up a last minute present for Miete on December 19th.
I'll write it off to the international move and the warmer weather in Los Angeles making Lisa forget what date it really was. I have to admit, I haven't felt the least bit "christmasy" since moving here in the last days of November. I'm not one to get over enthused with holiday spirit but warm temperatures and a new city have completely killed it for me this year. So I was as guilty as she when I drove into the parking lot, Adam Wood in tow to pick up a Fisher Price digital camera for the kid.
I turned and looked at Adam as I turned off the car and said, "This may be our single biggest mistake of the holiday season". He nodded in agreement and we headed into the fray.
I've experienced some stupid shit at Christmas time but American really takes the cake when it comes to bad shopping experiences. It's like every Los Angelino who normally would be too over medicated on Prozac to act like an asshole has stopped self-medicating and now has delusions that they're Mr. T and pities the fool that gets in their way. All those assholes, they headed to Toys R Us on Sunday.
I was originally sent to get the digital camera and pull-ups as TRU has the cheapest ones in town. They were out of pull ups so I was sent on the search for the camera. I actually found it with relative ease while Adam went off searching for something to bring back to Vancouver for his boys. I arrived back at the front of the store and my gut turned. The lines were long and they were filled with some angry looking people. I noted the exits in case gunfire erupted.
I chose my line. This is something which I have a knack for. By knack, I mean the worst luck in the world. I know with certainty that whichever line I choose will be the slowest, the smelliest, the bitchiest or the one which will be spontaneously shut down. If a kid shits himself and it rolls out the leg of his size two jeans, it will be in my line. If the receipt paper roll runs out it will do so one person ahead of me. So when Consuela and her mother wanted to use a defective gift card to pay for their three hundred and fifty seven items of shit and plastic corruption it came as absolutely no surprise.
After five minutes of waiting I messaged Adam who was still off shopping."I'm in line at the front and ready to shoot myself in the face. Come meet me" He showed up minutes later to share the misery.
Consuela was like an immovable Mexican version of a Shaolin monk. Her feet as firmly planted as her English was broken and she just kept shoving that defective Toys R Us gift card back at the TRU employee, Erin and muttering, "Pay weeth card!" Erin, a black girl in her twenties kept a great attitude and smiled back and kept saying, "Ma'am, I don't know what to do with the card. I don't think it was activated. Could you please step over to the Customer Service Desk?" No Burritos Erin. Senora ain't budging.
Maybe it was the line of three people at the Customer Service Desk which Consuela refused to wait behind after already waiting behind others to get to the front of the line at the cashier. Maybe it was Constanza, Consuela's mother who stood in front of her with her own pile of items stacked high in her shopping cart who was backing her every move that gave her the gumption to endure the glares of the waiting customers behind her. Maybe it was the fact that she as Mexican and nothing happens fast in Mexico. In fact, this was all happening at lightening speed compared to how it would go down in her homeland so she had no idea that this was even slow. In any case, "pay weeth card" was repeated several times along with, "I no go serveeece desk". This was her Alamo and I was shit out of luck.
I turned around and the behemoth women standing behind me in the black and white polka dot disaster of a shirt/tent was getting really pissed off. She looked like a furious monochromatic game of Twister. "Oh ma gawd! This is ridiculous! I can't believe this! I'm going in the other line!" Her dumpy husband stood silent knowing better than to speak after all, it would be like poking an angry Rhino in the eye.
I looked at my watch. This had been going on for twenty minutes. Erin was losing her mind as Consuela was exhibiting a will which would keep the most unimportant of secrets locked away under a Guantanamo water boarding. Finally, Erin's co-worker at the Customer Service Desk came over and performed some sort of over-ride and sent Consuela on her way, gift card spent. All that for $25. The line uttered a collective, "Are you fucking kidding me?" Fatty McFatterson behind me couldn't contain her passive aggressive self and vomitted forth, "What as the matter? Couldn't she have gone over to the Customer Service Desk?" in a tone dripping of bitchiness as the words spilled out of her gaping maw and down over her twenty seven quivering chins.
Erin simply looked up and apologized and stated in a pleasant manner, "No. She didn't want to go there."
Adam and I left both knowing that indeed, that was our biggest mistake of the holiday season.