Hello Kitty, box stores and existential angst: Otherwise known as Saturday

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It should’ve been simple.

And if I would’ve just ordered the damn thing on Amazon, it would have been.

I’m a procrastinator by trade.

My daughter’s eighth birthday was no different than my last news deadline.

That’s how I found myself at three different Wal Marts and two Targets in a major snowstorm trying to hunt down a Hello Kitty sewing machine.

I hit the first Wal Mart in the city, hoping that I could kill a few different birds with one extra stop on my way home from work.

The kid who helped me asked me if I was looking for the Hello Kitty sewing machine for myself.

I played along.

“Yeah, man, I collect Hello Kitty stuff and travel around the world to conferences.”

He was not amused and would not sell me the floor model.

I don’t blame him. I should not have played him like that.

After crawling along the Dan Ryan at 20 miles per hour following an ineffective snowplow, I stopped at a Target near my house.

They would not sell me the floor model either, but at least the employee asked if he could look this sewing machine up at other stores.

I told him it was for my daughter, and though he looked at me sideways a few times, he seemed to believe me.

He tapped on his price gun a half dozen times and told me they might have one in Orland Park.

My heart sank.

More snow driving, less daylight with my daughter.

The next two Wal Marts were a wash, though I now know that Wal Mart has a DIY section, and that is where you’ll find arts and craft stuff like sewing machines.

I ended up in an argument with a Wal Mart associate over whether they actually stock Hello Kitty sewing machines.

“Your website claims you carry the Hello Kitty sewing machine.”

“I don’t know anything about the web site, sir, but we don’t have that model of sewing machine in this store.”

“Can you check in back?”

“We don’t have any more sewing machines in back.”

I stopped at the Starbucks where I saw my wife in the drive-thru window.

Sometimes just seeing her for a few minutes can set a bad day right.

She gave me a China Green Tips tea and a chocolate cookie and sent me on my way. I love her.

My third Wal Mart was a nightmare.

Nothing looked like the other two. The DIY section did not contain sewing machines, only irons and vacuums.

I was ready to give up and contemplated just ordering the thing on Amazon from my phone in the parking lot, but I hate the impersonal nature of mail-ordered gifts.

It’s probably the least digital aspect of my life.

Shopping that is.

It’s funny, really. When you don’t want to be a consumer, the stuff you’re thinking about shows up in your Facebook and Gmail accounts.

When you have to be a consumer, nobody carries the shit you need. or, rather, the shit you want when you have to have it.

I spun out of the Wal Mart parking lot in a veritable rage. The snow-slick parking lot was a perfect world for me and my 4-wheel drive truck. I spit snow rooster tails off the back tires and peeled around the great mounds of snow from recent storms, deposited like zebra sediment layers, each a story of our crazy winter.

I slid sideways down the main entry a ways until my heart started racing with the out-of-control nature of the slide.

When I gained control, I slowed and stopped at the light and became a semi-responsible member of society again.

I crossed 159th, otherwise known as hell, and proceeded into the Target parking lot.

Last chance, I thought to myself.

When I walked in the giant store, I was horrified to find that it was laid out even more differently than the last Target.

I did not have the patience for another fruitless 20 minute search.

“Can you tell me where the sewing machines are?” I asked the first associate available.

“That’s a good question, sir, not sure we sell a lot of those.”

Many thoughts came to mind.

Like why am I buying my daughter a sewing machine anyway?

I kept fearing that this would be the most misogynistic thing I could possibly do today.

The associate told me they were near the kitchen gadgets, so I fairly ran down the aisles until I found the right section.

Sure enough, there wasn’t even a floor model.

There were, however, two ladies in the aisle looking at sewing machines.

One had a Janome Hello Kitty sewing machine in her cart.

And they were arguing about which model they really wanted.

I had two choices at this point. Engage them politely and try to convince them that my soon-to-be-8-year-old daughter deserved that machine more than they did, or give up.

Luckily, the other lady pointed out that this had cartoons on it, and what she really wanted was the Singer machine in white, not mint green.

This went on for a while as I tried to resist pulling my beard out hair by hair.

When the lady finally put the Janome Hello Kitty themed machine back on the shelf, I grabbed it like I was on a beer run and made a beeline toward the checkout.

As I walked through the store proudly holding a Hello Kitty sewing machine in my arms, I imagined customers chuckling at my smile and my proud victory, a success claimed from the very fingers of failure.

The cashier resisted asking if it was for me, but the cashier next to her said fairly loudly after I walked away, “Was that a Hello Kitty sewing machine?”

I didn’t care at this point, and I no longer wanted to try to explain why I was buying a sewing machine for an 8-year-old girl.

“You want a bag,” the cashier asked me.

“No, I’ll just carry it.”

Yes, my daughter would probably rather have an iPad Mini or a new American Girl Doll.

No, I’m not  DIY hipster.

The simple truth is my daughter loves fashion, she loves designing clothes. It was time to give her the chance to start making them instead of just drawing them.

For many men, shopping is point A to point B, get what you were looking for and return home.

Shopping is complete torture for me. Sometimes even when I know exactly what I’m looking for and theoretically where to find it.

Today I was like the mailman.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, even if all you want to do is the exact opposite.

If I never visit another Target or Wal Mart again, it will be too soon.

Tim –

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