Sighs. I know. Some people love their children, well, actually, Susan Smith aside, nearly all people love their children. I just wish they would think about the impact of the little darlings on the world around them. Namely me.
I've tried to spread the Gospel of the Howler Monkey - Sterilization Before Recreation - but it doesn't seem to be working. Parents are still flocking to the Wal-Mart with hoards of demon-spawn in tow -- and then refusing to watch them.
My heart drops every time some woman goes nuts about her kid going missing and we find the brat 20 minutes later - oblivious to all the fuss - playing hide-and-seek with some other miniature two-legged terrors in the racks of clothes.
But back to the point. It's late Saturday afternoon and I've got a line that looks like an iPhone camp-out. I'm trying and failing to ignore the fact that my head is pounding and it is infernally hot because Wal-Mart is cheap with the A/C.
One of my regulars rolls up - with her kid in tow. I know the woman, she's always decently polite - but her child is a terror. She'd send Gandhi running for the hills and screaming for the Supernanny hotline. And the woman is apparently of the "indulgent" school of parenting.
So whatever Little Shanni wants, Little Shanni gets. If this includes rooting through the buggies of returns for toys, throwing toys on the floor, bouncing balls or riding a returned and DEFECTIVE bike around - even after I told her the brakes did not work - so be it.
The coup de grace was the little crotchling sitting at the application computer, pounding on the keyboard with a package-less Bratz doll and demanding "MAMA MAKE THIS WORK. I WANNA PLAY. MAMA MAKE THIS WORK."
All this time, I'm trying to count out a $900 money order in fives and tens. Yes. Fives and tens. I don't want to know where her money comes from. I don't ask. I don't need to know.
After the money order prints out, the girl-Damien decides she has to have a Bratz doll. But not the one she practically destroyed. I don't care. I just want her to leave.
So I ring her up and bag it. It was like $15 or something. I forget exactly how much. Mommy tells the spawn she has to pay. I'm expecting a twenty from Grandma or something. Oh no. I would never be so lucky. Never. Ever. Not at the Wal-Mart.
Having the kid pay translated into a jar of change. A jar of change.
The woman pulled a peanut butter jar out of a raggedy old purse and put it on the counter.
I looked at it and then looked at her. She looked right back at me and said "There's about $18 in there. Can't you just give me back three dollars?"
I resisted the urge to laugh and just said "No." The woman standing in line behind her looked around to see what was taking so long and said, out loud "What the hell?" when she saw the change. Good for you because that's sure as hell what I was thinking!
I dumped the change out on the counter and started counting. Whatever could make a dollar. Neat little piles. Quarters. Dimes. Nickels by twos.
The woman and the daughter tried to "help" - which only kept screwing things up. I asked them to stop. They didn't. I finally stopped counting and told her I wasn't going to finish if she kept counting. I had to count it by myself. She could watch and count with me. But she had to keep her hands off the money.
All said, there was $16 in the jar. Only two dollars of it was in quarters. Think about fourteen dollars in dimes and nickels and pennies for a minute. That's a lot of change. And with a big line standing behind her glaring because I'm helping her.
There was no way I could have done anything about that. I had to take that money for that merchandise. That, or bring out an elephant gun and tranquilizer darts.