Here’s another excerpt from my book, A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck. This is from the chapter titled School Daze; Is There Hooky in Kindergarten. Enjoy…
The beginning of each new school year is always met with varying degrees of eagerness and excitement. There are some kids, like Jason in the comic strip Fox Trot, who live for each school year so they can amaze a whole new set of teachers. Others go begrudgingly because in some respects it is better to have something to do every day than be home with Mom who might find some unsavory job to do, like clean the toilets.
Mother’s are generally thrilled to have the kids gone most of the day, but first there is the mad rush to get them all outfitted with a few new clothes and the 10-page list of school supplies.
One year, a couple of days before school was going to start, I went up to our local grocery-drugs-everything-under-the-sun store to get those school supplies. When I arrived, I discovered that I wasn’t the only one who’d waited until the last minute to perform this little task.
The aisles were crammed with shopping carts, harried mothers and a multitude of kids, which created more confusion than in the pits at the Indianapolis Speedway. The mothers wore a grim look of. determination which clearly said, “I can only suffer through this indignity because it is all for a greater good,” as they jiggled crying babies, fought their way up and down the aisles, and did their best to ignore the earnest pleas of their kids.
“Oh, Mommy, please! Can’t I have this organizer? See it has Star Wars stuff on the front and this neat thing for paper. And I won’t ask you for another thing extra, I promise.”
“I know it’s not on the list, but I really need these felt-tip markers, and the big box of crayons and some of these notebooks.”
For the first time in my life I actually had the presence of mind to think ahead and only brought one kid with me on this shopping trip, and he had masking tape over his mouth. So I was in a position to see a little humor in the human drama occurring around me. Although I did have to hurry to cosmetics if I felt a laugh coming on to avoid the risk of being attacked by a horde of irate mothers armed with wooden rulers.
The store clerk probably deserved as much sympathy as the shoppers. He valiantly tried to keep the shelves stocked, answer questions, and help locate vital items. He looked like he’d been through the proverbial wringer, and I wondered whether he would pull his hair and scream if I asked him to help me find the grade two manuscript tablet.
I decided not to take the chance.
To make matters even worse, we all knew that we’d back in a few days to try to exchange the things that shouldn’t have been on the list for the things that should have been. None of us was more acutely aware of this than that poor clerk, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that as soon as he clocked out for the day, he took off for a quick vacation in Siberia.