I have always found "The Ungettable Get"--that one gift every year that people fight over, but can't find in stores or online--to be nonsense. Year after year I think, "Come on, people. Just wait until after Christmas." The Year of the Wii, Joe was ALL over it, and I thought HE was being nonsensical. I mean, do we really need it NOW? And at least that's a gaming system that's, you know, pretty cool. What about the Tickle Me Elmo Year? How lame was THAT toy?
But this year, I've been...affected. With Noah desperately trying to read, he has actually taken up a serious interest in all the learning devices in our household. These are the toys that are meant to "make learning fun" and encourage your child to "learn without even realizing it!" And Noah actually DOES play with these toys...for hours. You have to understand then that when he saw the commercial for the latest Leapfrog device: the Leappad, he freaked out for it. It's like the iPad of learning toys, and Noah has gone so far as to say, "All I want Santa to bring is the Leappad. Maybe some other cool stuff, but really just the Leappad."
Well HOLY SMOKES. Now I understand.
Yesterday it came to my attention that Noah's ONLY requested Christmas gift (and he's three--don't three year olds usually want ANYTHING and EVERYTHING???) is this year's Ungettable Get. Ugh. At first, I decided I must be much more Shop Savvy than any of my friends, and proceeded to visit all conceivable websites and stores, expecting to just be lucky. Then the panic set in, and I realized, I'm just one among millions (a totally different meaning for the phrase, "one in a million").
This morning, I hopped on the Internet, trying all the different sites again. Sold Out. Out of Stock. Sold Out. Not Currently Available. I began to despair.
The only store I hadn't tried was Target, and I thought, "But of COURSE Target will be sold out. Everyone goes to Target."
But I had to try, so I typed it in. I searched. To my shock, I saw: In-Store Only. My heart raced as I ran a search for our zip code. Of the five closest stores, the one nearest me had "Limited Stock." The next nearest said, "In Stock." All the rest: "Out of Stock."
I quickly ripped Noah off the potty, figuring if things had happened for him yet, it was safe to wait. He had to go to school, and of course, today is "J" day and we had bring something that started with J, and I hadn't done that yet, so I tossed a picture of Joey into his backpack (to which Noah replied, "Uh, no thank you, I'd like to bring a toy," and I ignored him). I had him bundled and in the car in under sixty seconds, and was racing toward his school thirty minutes early. But it had to be done. Luckily, my mom is the owner and the teacher is a close friend, so they were very understanding about watching Noah for me. Then, I was off. To the races, as they say.
By the time I arrived at "my" Target, it was a mob scene, and it had only been open for an hour and fifteen minutes. I fast-walked into the store. On the one hand, I wanted to break into a full out run, but on the other hand, I didn't want to clue anyone into my "secret" info. Not like all the other parents in a 100 mile radius weren't doing exactly the same thing as me.
I tore through the store, no cart. Other people were shopping around, so I felt hopeful. I was sweating through my fleece, thanking God I decided to wear my running shoes (like I've ever run anywhere). I made it to the Leapfrog aisle only to see a salesgirl regretfully telling another mom, "I'm sorry, we just sold the last one."
But there was no time to lose! I raced back out of the store, not worrying about running anymore. I'm sure people thought my pants were on fire, but I didn't care. It was off to the next Target! I hopped in my car and revved the engine. As I flew onto the Thruway, Marky Mark was singing "Good Vibrations" on Sirius radio, and it was possibly the best "Get Psyched" song ever for my heated mission.
I was slowed down only by an indecisive State Trooper who finally must have felt the vibes of my Shopper Anxiety all the way in his patrol car and finally veered off to rest in a U-turn stop.
When I arrived at the store, I was pleased to see it wasn't nearly as crowded as the last place. It was in a bit of shady neighborhood, so I felt that running into the store was more acceptable, and I clutched my purse in double paranoia, eyeing up any competition. There were definitely some characters standing out. A couple of men in their thirties wearing pressed khakis with their hair gelled had clearly been sent by their wives for the Leappad. A messy-looking mother of twins (what must I have looked like at this point, all sweaty and frazzled?) making her way slowly to the back of the store.
To the Leapfrog aisle! I moved quickly through the store, thanking God that its layout was identical to my home Target. As I approached, another woman, looking as determined as me, was coming from the opposite direction. I ducked down the aisle, and saw the boxes gleaming at me from the bottom shelf. Good GOD!
I snatched up one, and behind it saw one more. I knew my really close friend hadn't been able to find one for her daughter, so I grabbed that one, too. My mission can't have been all about me, after all. That's not how heroes are made.
Holding the boxes tightly in my arms against my chest, I dared not slow down. To the checkouts I hurried, not messing around but going straight to the Express Lane. The fellow BEEPED! the boxes over the scanner, and, with shaking hands, I ran my credit card through.
"I'm sorry, ma'am," said the fellow. "Your card has been denied."
"What???" I screeched. "I'm sorry, there must be a mistake." Yes, there must be, since I'm married to the Spreadsheet King of the Universe and this just simply wasn't possible. And how could such a STUPID thing be happening to me NOW?
"Well, we can try again," he said helpfully. We re-did the transaction, same result.
I breathed a huge breath. "Can we please keep these boxes RIGHT HERE?" I asked quietly in my scariest Teacher Voice, leaning close to him. "So I can call my husband? There seriously must be a mistake."
"Okay..." said the fellow uncertainly, clearly afraid of me. I wondered if he had a security buzzer next to him, and if he might use it.
I stepped out of the way and dialed Joe's number. Joe, incidentally, was working in Pennsylvania this morning.
He answered in a frustratingly lazy voice, "Oh, hey. How's it going?"
"JOE!" I said. Unfortunately, I had taken on an alter ego: Hysterical Mary. My family are constantly trying to squash this persona out of me, since it leads to totally Unacceptable Behavior, but once she comes out, there's no turning back. It's my version of Hulking Out. When it happens, I honestly can't even see anymore. I lose all vision and all sense of good, common sense-abiding behavior.
"YOU NEED TO CHECK THE CREDIT CARD! I HAVE THE LEAPPAD HERE AND IT'S THE LAST ONE!!! OUR CARD ISN'T WORKING!!"
You can imagine this may have come out slightly slurred in the state I was, so I had to repeat it. Twice. I was becoming desperate, and the checkout fellow moved me solicitously to Customer Service. With the Leappad boxes, since I clearly refused to be separated from them.
Joe, in the meantime, was looking at our credit card account online. "You won't believe it," he said. "You and I both used our cards at the same time. Since I'm in Pennsylvania, the company thought your purchase must be fraudulent."
Ugh. Do you KNOW how much I hate when Joe works out of town? And now THIS?!
"Okay," he said easily. Easy for him, since he wasn't in this state of EMERGENCY. "I verified the purchase. You should be all set."
I stepped up to the counter, and, I must tell you, the Customer Service Guy was extra nice. He didn't treat me like garbage for having my card denied (which I felt like, even though it was a misunderstanding). He was very kind, and rang up the purchase like this sort of thing happens all the time.
By the time I left the store, I was trembling. My shirt was soaked and I was breathing hard. I held my packages tightly, and raced all the way home, not willing to feel any relief until the Leappads were safely inside my house, hidden away for Santa to wrap.
Next year, I'm encouraging my children to become artists, and they're getting a paint set. And that's IT!