09 June 2010


It was pretty scuzzy weather thanks to a rather slow-moving warm front.  The pilot in me knew this, and also knew that if you didn't mind getting wet, then the air is pretty stable during warm fronts, and therefore the flying really isn't that bad, if you have your IFR qualifications up to date (but I don't, says the poor blogger) and don't mind not seeing where you're going.

It was not, however, a good day to be outside if you're a parent of a two year old who seems to have some sort of divining rod for the slightest bit of damp mud or any puddles within a five-mile radius.  He only has so many clothes, you see, and we refuse to do more than two loads of laundry per day.

By the time Mommy got home and we ate dinner, Eli was ready to be out of the house.  Luckily, it just so happened that we had some errands to run.  We packed up the Boy and the Princess and headed out to our friendly neighborhood WalMart super store.

Now, typically, if we want to get out of the house, the mall is the first choice for a quick getaway, because Eli's favorite store is the escalators.  And the carousel.  And the tree house.

But we had some things to exchange, so WalMart it was.  I packed the offspring into the cart and headed to the toy section while Mommy returned the items.

On my way back there, I happened to walk past some dude walking the other way.  We made eye contact, so I did the polite thing and nodded.  You know the little twitch of the head nod you give to strangers?  It's usually followed by a "W'Sup.", or some other mumbled greeting to affirm that we do indeed know that we are not the only people on this earth.  He nodded back.  Social transaction complete.  We are not jerks towards total strangers.

We continued towards the toy aisles, where we could dazzle the Boy with bright colors and perhaps give him a toy to play with while we walked around a bit.  The Princess was jabbering away in her car seat, content to let us push her around so she could see what was going on.

Mommy caught up with us then, and we moved down the aisle with all the outside water/pool toys.  Remember what I said about Eli and water?  So this aisle was full of all sorts of neat little gadgets to make your pool experience more exciting, because a two-and-a-half-foot tall boy and a three foot deep pool just isn't exciting enough.

I stopped and looked at some ball that you could put a water balloon in, and set a timer for it to pop the water balloon after a certain period of time.  A sort of "hot potato" game with water balloons.  That'd be pretty neat.  I was fiddling around with it when he showed up.

The dude was back.

He stopped right next to me and pretended to look at some toy on the shelf.

"Picking out some stuff for the little one?" he asked.

"Yep.  We've got two of 'em."

"Yeah, my sister has two as well, and we like to buy them things.  You know, help them out and stuff."

"It's pretty cool, isn't it?  Being able to play with all these neat toys?"

We both chuckled.  Mommy, pushing the cart, cracked some lame joke and continued to walk down the aisle.  I missed her signal.

Looking back, I missed all the signals.  The dude, not interested in any of the toys anymore, proceeded to chat me up.  Making conversation, just being nice, you know?  Like you would over coffee or something.  Or a friendly chat with a co-worker or a client when you run in to them outside your normal environment.

He was pretty practiced at it.  Then again, I'm apparently too nice and gullible, so I didn't see it coming.  Mommy did, that's why she didn't stop the cart.

He seemed friendly, but his questions were all too general, too vague.  And, come to think of it, kinda weird.  Are you from around here?

Umm, no.  We live in Lansing, this is just our favorite WalMart.

I was slowly realizing that this conversation was being forced.  This wasn't just a nice guy.  This was very rapidly turning into a sales pitch.

Now I'm stuck.

On one hand, I'm not ready to listen to a sales pitch.  I'll chat with a stranger, but the second the stranger tries to sell something, I'm going to disengage as nicely as I can.  I may stay and talk, but I don't care anymore.  Besides, I came here to hang out with my family, and they're two aisles away from me now, and if I don't find them soon, I'm gonna get lost.  I'll have to make my way to the fishing section and wait for them to find me.

On the other hand, yes I would like to make more money.  Yes I would like to work from home and set my own hours.  Yes I would like freedom from the nine-to-five rat race.  So if I say no, I feel like a dirty rotten liar.

The dude seemed to turn desperate when he realized that I realized what he was up to.  He rattled off the rest of his pitch at machine gun pace, all the while his voice growing lower and less confident of his success.

I barely let him finish as I turned to go find my family.  When I caught up with them, Mommy turned to me and said, "So, are we selling Amway now?"

"I don't know." I said.  "We didn't get to that part."

"I saw that coming a mile away." She said, shaking her head.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is yet another bullet on the long list of reasons I married her.

And on the way out, no doubt showing his frustration that I didn't buy him water balloon hot potato, Eli knocked over a huge display of shoeboxes.

It was a great night.


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