Adventures in Baby Shopping

Shopping for me is always some sort of adventure, either because I have inexplicable OCD issues with my buggy or because I seem to attract the most special people to assist me. For example, while shoe shopping, I asked a clerk where to find the footies you try on shoes with. She replied, “Oh, I’ll be glad to get some for you,” which she did. As she handed over the requested footies, she said, “I brought you two – just in case.” Just in case? Just in case I want to try on both shoes – at the same time? Just in case I actually have two feet? Things like this happen to me all the time, so baby shopping should be no exception, right?

Since Christmas, we’ve been able to actually set up the nursery, and over the last few weeks, I’ve been making sure that all the necessities are covered. I made my list of things we needed from each of the two big stores where we registered, compared prices and coupons, and set out to get baby girl pants and sheets and an actual mattress for the crib. So, after a rather nice expedition through Buy Buy Baby, I headed to the other store the next night armed with my registry printout and my coupons.

I wandered the aisles for a bit with my list, matching item code numbers so that I could be sure that my registry completion coupon would apply. After a few minutes perusing the crib mattress item numbers, I realized that I was being stalked by a clerk who must have just been waiting for me to look up. Apparently there was a breastfeeding class beginning, and my rotund belly made me an easy (and slow) target. “Hi, there!” Keep in mind that the same woman greeted me a few minutes before when I came in the door but was now greeting me as if she’d never seen me before. “How are you this evening? Are you here for the breastfeeding class? Were you aware we have a breastfeeding class starting in just a few minutes?” I politely declined and explained that I had already attended a class at the hospital. “Well, good for you. If you change your mind, you’re welcome to come.” Fortunately, she left me and began following the only man in the store shopping without female supervision – an odd choice, but then, you should never assume… After running down my list while still wondering if the clerk’s next stalking victim would attend the class, I was finally ready to check out.

I am a grammar fanatic, and I try to remember in public settings that the average Joe just doesn’t care. In spite of my attempts to ignore really awful or ridiculously stupid mistakes, this one still caught me off-guard. After multiple unsuccessful attempts to scan the barcode on the registry list I had printed, the checkout clerk still couldn’t pull up our registry; she tried typing in the name several times before asking, “Do you spell your name with the extra ‘s’ on the end?” There is no “s” anywhere in any part of my name, so I was a bit baffled. The clerk held out the registry list with her finger pointing at our last name with an expression that implied I was more than a bit daft for not knowing how to spell my own last name. Her finger was highlighting “WEIL’s” at the top of the page, as in our last name in all capitals with a possessive apostrophe -s combination. I managed to only say that she should type what was in all capitals and skip the apostrophe -s. “Well, there it is!”

Having handled the business of locating our registry, the clerk turned to small talk while she tried to scan my items. This started innocently enough with the standard questions about whether we were having a boy or a girl, what her name will be, and when we’re due. Then she added that her first grand baby was due in April. I congratulated her, but then the conversation took an awkward turn. “Yeah, my daughter doesn’t talk to me, so she didn’t even want to tell me if it’s a girl or boy, but she doesn’t know that I’m still friends with her best friend that she’s living with now because she moved out when she found out she was pregnant since she didn’t want to tell me about it.” How does one appropriately respond to that? “And THEN I found out that the baby daddy got busted for drugs right after he got my daughter pregnant, and THAT’s why my daughter won’t talk to me. But I don’t want to have to go see my grand baby in prison, so she BETTER get away from that guy.” By that point there was a line behind me, and I had been waiting for a total for a few minutes. I was also at a loss on how to respond; a glance behind me told me that so were the mother and daughter waiting next in line. I expressed sympathy for her plight and wondered if she really even wanted me to say anything. Either she needed to vent, and I looked friendly enough, or she was bitter enough about the situation that she told everyone she could when she had a captive audience. She finally wound up the story and gave me a total, so I again congratulated her and wished her luck mending the relationship with her daughter. The women behind me in line looked worried as they approached the register. I probably should have wished them luck, too.

As I headed out to the parking lot, I allowed myself to gloat that I had another few weeks to park in the expectant mother parking spaces near the front of the store, even though at this store the front spaces were still about a city block from the actual doors. My glory was short-lived once I realized that the only buggy corrals were in the very back of the parking lot. At least that fit with the overall absurdist tone of this particular foray into retail. See what you miss when you shop online?

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