Judah's preschool has asked that all parents pack a cloth napkin into the kids' lunches. Like 3 year olds are using napkins. Actually they use the napkins as a sort of tablecloth/mat area so they don't infringe on each others dining space at the kiddie tables. Still sounds crazy to me, but who am I to argue. And being that I'm packing Judah's lunch every morning, I'm using the only available cloth napkins to be found at our house - Lily's good ones. Lily doesn't like that.
So on my weekly pilgrimage to Target, I decided to buy some cloth napkins to be dedicated solely to Judah's lunchbox. Target didn't have much of a selection. Not much that fits into the "boyish but not branded by Disney/Pixar, Thomas the Train, or Spongebob" category. They had plain colors like green, red, and yellow. I opted for the green ones thinking that they'll hold up the longest over repeated food spillage. They came in packs of four, which works out great for the number of days in the school week. Laundry or dipping into the good napkin stash would be necessary.
Except that when I got home from Target and Lily inspected the new napkins, she noticed that there were only three in the pack. Damn! A return trip to return would be necessary. Which is what we did yesterday. Returning stuff at Target is never a big deal. The people working at the counter could care less why you're returning merchandise, so no need to make up any excuses, just show 'em the receipt and you're good. I had no need for an excuse, only that there were three napkins instead of four. As I stood in line, I contemplated the possibility that they might think I'm lying and I still have the fourth napkin at home. But why the hell would anyone make a return trip to Target and stand in the return line just for one napkin. I felt guilty of theft,nevertheless.
It was my turn to return merchandise, and Brendaisha would be assisting me. "Can I help the next guest?" she said with a blank stare that could only be achieved by burning countless hours of your life listening to return stories at Target in Los Angeles. I wondered why Brendaisha's mom couldn't have stopped at "Brenda". Why the "isha"? I'm sure her friends called her "Brenda" anyway.
"This pack is suppposed to have four and there were only three in there." I told Brendaisha holding my receipt out like it was a passport. Brendaisha (I'll stop with the "isha" from here on out if you can follow along) scanned the napkin package, then the receipt, and she asked if I wanted a refund or exchange. I asked for an exchange. I should have asked for the refund, because it would save me a trip back to Brenda. She told me I didn't have to wait in line next time.
After I walked to the napkin area and selected a pack that had four napkins, I went back to Brenda, who was blankly staring at a bearded man telling her some lengthy story about a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner he wanted to return. She obviously didn't care, but it made me think that the guy had something to hide by telling a story instead of saying "it's broken" and leaving it at that.
The refund line had three ladies waiting, and they didn't look like they'd be too happy to see me jump to the front of the line. They just didn't know about the arrangment Brenda made with me. So I sidled up to the counter and didn't dare look in the ladies direction. I waited for the vacuum man to finish his story.
Another Target refund counter casualty walked over and opened up the register where I waited and told me "sorry, but you're standing at the register". Oh, my bad. I moved away from the register and lady #1 in line got down to business. Finally Brenda was ready and she took my new pack of napkins and the exchange receipt and sent me on my way. Except that we were buying some gift wrap and some gifts for Judah's birthday, so we still had to go through the regular checkout.
And when we were through the checkout, I got a coupon, as all Targets like to give out when you're leaving so you'll come back. But this coupon was for a free Choxie chocolate bar. Like free as in redeemable right now no purchase necessary. All that returning business made me hungry , so I asked the checkout gal about the coupon and she said "oh yeah, go ahead and get it" and she motioned toward the rack of candy right at the checkout.
I had no idea what a Choxie bar was or what one looked like, so I scanned the candy rack and finally found a group of Choxie dark chocolate espresso truffle bars. Two bucks. I grabbed one and handed the bar and my coupon to the checkout gal. She scanned them both and the word "VOID" appeared on the screen. She looked at the coupon and said "oh you have to buy three dollars worth of something to get it". She moved onto the next customer in line. I looked closely at the coupon and it said nothing about buying anything. It did however say "up to a $3 value", which meant that the $2 Choxie bar in my hand would fit the bill.
I went to the 6-item max express line to see if I'd get a different result. The lady in front of me clearly had at least 8 items, but I waited patiently for my turn. The Target employee scanned the Choxie bar and the coupon and the screen said "VOID". The employee turned to the manager standing next to her and said "it's not working". The manager said "punch in the code". The employee again scanned the code. Same result. The manager looked at the coupon and said to the employee "I think he has to buy something." I said "it says free and it's worth a three dollar value and the bar is only two bucks." No sooner did I finish that sentence than the manager held up the "shush" finger (performed by pointing the index finger skyward and moving the arm toward the intended recipient) and told me "we're trying to figure this out". They resorted to some sort of manual override, and I walked out of Target with my free Choxie bar.
On the ride home I ate two squares of the chocolate. Lily asked "was it worth it?" It was and it was delicious. Free is damned tasty.