The place that must be like the Hellmouth for Rachel Lucas, the black hole of money, Toys-R-Us. The place exasperates me because it should be an extremely useful store and sometimes actually is. That is, when I need a general present for a child and don’t know what I’m going to get yet, usually I can go in there, wander for a little while, and find something suitable. But then the exasperation. If there’s something specific I want, the odds are 99-1 that they won’t have it. Every single time, no matter what the thing is. Stuffed dog that doesn’t shed? No. Take your pick from these three million dogs with obnoxiously shedding fake fur. The one little wooden table and chairs I wanted for the corner of the kitchen for my son to eat at? No. We’re out. Take your pick from these bright flimsy plastic ones. The one specific Thomas engine that my son wanted as a reward for learning to use the potty? No. Take your pick from these four million engines that are the wrong ones.
Speaking of trains, what up, TRU people, that as usual you have a train table out with all the track and little buildings and sheds and trees and train stations on it … and no trains? My broken-hearted son spent the rest of our trip to TRU today wailing because he couldn’t play with the trains as he does on every visit, because for some unfathomable godless reason the TRU people had put none on the table. “Fortunately, baby, we have trains at home.” Wail. “Honey, see the other little boy? He’s not crying and he’s kind of worried about you because you are. Can you buck up a little for Mommy?” Wail. It’s not entirely so much the trains; it’s also that it’s out of routine and he doesn’t yet understand that the world changes. There were trains; now there aren’t. Apocalypse.
And then, the capstone of the TRU Exasperation Experience, the one that puts my steam up every time, I’m herding my wailing son up to the register, hoping for a smooth and quick checkout, and then it comes, The Nunya Question: “May I start with a phone number, please?”
NO YOU MAY NOT HAVE MY PERSONAL PRIVATE PHONE NUMBER, I DO NOT GIVE A DAMN THAT YOU AREN’T GOING TO USE IT FOR ANY OTHER REASON THAN TO MAIL ME COUPONS WHICH ADMITTEDLY ARE A PRETTY GOOD DEAL OR WOULD BE IF I GOT AROUND TO USING THEM IN TIME BUT FORTUNATELY FOR ME I ONLY NEED TO VISIT YOUR STORE ABOUT THREE TIMES A YEAR AND THEY ALWAYS EXPIRE MY PHONE NUMBER IS NUNYA DAMN BUSINESS AND WOULD YOU PLEASE DO YOUR FREAKING JOB AND LET ME GIVE YOU MONEY FOR THESE TOYS SO I CAN GET MY SON CALMED DOWN AND GET THE HELL ON WITH MY DAY.
It’s not the checkers’ fault; they’re only doing what they’ve been told, which, you know, their paycheck kind of depends on. But this is just such an annoying policy on the part of TRU and various other retailers. Sometimes I comply, but honestly, if you see an exasperated person approaching with a wailing four-year-old in tow, don’t you think you’d exercise enough judgment to just check them out and get them on their way?
Of course not. That’s why you’ll be a checker awhile longer, I’m thinking.