Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Famous Last Words

"I have a new plan," my darling husband announced.

I was immediately filled with dread.

All afternoon we had been discussing buying a new cell phone for me, as mine had taken one too many dips in a pool of water.  Really my little un-smart phone had been a trooper for the last 2 and half years surviving drops, tosses, and literally being dropped in full glasses of water. Twice. The sad end came for my phone thanks to a bottle of coconut water that spilled in my purse, which was holding my cell and many other prized possessions.

I thought that Lee should go and get the phone. He's much better at dealing with high pressure sales, and as I have previously posted, I am highly susceptible to high pressure sales.  Lee used to be in sales, so I thought it followed that he should do the deed.  Plus, I don't always like to leave the house.

I just didn't want to deal with it.

I thought the issue was settled.  After all, I had said, "You do this, please. I birthed four babies for you."

He went upstairs to get his wallet and then threw a wrench in the whole thing with his 'new plan' business.

Here was his plan:  We would all go. By all I mean me, him, 8 year old son, 2 year old son, and 31 year old brother with developmental disability.

"I don't think this is a good idea,"  I said as we were loading up in the van.  I went to the neighbor's house to get Spencer, the 8 year old, and was occupied for a little bit.

Here's the thing about my husband: he has a "Happy Filter" that he places over EVERY memory associated with our family outings so that he only remembers  good times, never the screaming, crying and/or thrashing about on dirty floors. For two years I refused to take our oldest son to a store because his behavior was so terrible and Lee always acted surprised that I refused to take him. Fortunately, this time we only had two of the four kids with us but they were the most, shall we say, kinesthetic of all of the Shepherd children.

We pulled into the parking lot of Sprint and my first impulse was to call ahead to warn them of the mayhem that was sure to ensue.  Don't get me wrong, we discipline our children and expect excellent behavior out of them at all times but life with children cannot be scripted.  There are often always unscripted events such as accidents involving urine or blood, lost shoes, or comments made to complete strangers that propel a parent into fleeing with or without the offending child.

"I'm telling you, we have the element of surprise on our side,"  said husband, "They'll probably give you a phone for free just to get us to leave!"  Insert insidious grin here.

Spencer and Erik rushed ahead of us, Lee quickly followed and I unbuckled Liam, our toddler. I couldn't decide if I should have a t-shirt that read :  The Circus is in Town  or Here Comes Trouble.

My brother had already located a pair of headphones and was wildly air drumming.  I knew he would be occupied indefinitely and didn't worry too much about him.  Liam was darting from phone to phone in the display area.  Spencer was absorbed in a conversation between a sales person and customer, too absorbed if you ask me. I fear he was taking notes on how to get me to do what he wants while making believe that it's not only in my best interest but my idea.  Lee was watching everything from a safe distance.  A really safe distance.

Actually, I don't know where he was.

I told my designated sales guy that my phone was defunct thanks to one too many dips in the big drink.  He tried to sell me an iphone, I interrupted by telling him all I'm interested in is texting and occasionally talking and that I was due for a freebie phone with a two year renewal.  Thank you very much. While keeping my peripheral vision locked on the gentleman who had accompanied me I picked out the new device. Moving forward with the transaction we stepped back to the cash register to see how much my 'free' phone was going to actually cost.

At the register I was able to have a panoramic view of the entire store.

Erik: air drumming.  Check.
Spencer: negotiating for a customer. Check.  (sales person looking mildly perplexed, customer looking pleased)
Liam:  lying on back spinning realllly fast.  Check.
Lee: in corner on  phone texting. Check.

I knew that the sales guy was getting ready to go in for the kill shot. I also knew that it was past dinner time.  I was pretty irritated with Lee because the whole reason I wanted him along was so that he could get me through this part. I did not want to walk away with insurance or a fancy case for my non-fancy phone or a new plan for my eight year old. I just wanted to get the heck out of dodge with a phone that had all of my contacts transferred over.

In sheer desperation I calmly told the young man that I wanted my phone and I didn't want anything extra. He returned fire by reminding me that insurance would cover me in the event that my new phone were to, say, get wet.  That was a low blow, but I assured him that I believed in consequences and I would just have to live without a phone should I not be responsible with it.

We stared at each other. Then he turned to survey the scene of my men scattered about his store like gremlins just waiting to get wet.

"Okay, then. We're done here. Let me just transfer your contacts over, Mrs. Shepherd," the sweetie pie said. I think we both felt we were getting off the hook easy.

Later, in the car, I accused Lee of abandoning me, throwing me to the wolves, leaving me to my own devices.  My husband of almost 17 years smiled.

"I didn't abandon you. I created the environment in which you work best,"  he said.

One point to Mr. Shepherd.


  1. I have one of those Happy Filters too!

    Give me your phone number, Mrs. Shepherd. My phone got wet too.

  2. Yes, Jedi Knight, your training is a success! I remember your mother, maybe a little more than a few years ago, standing under a store sign that read, "ABSOLUTELY NO RETURNS". She held your two brothers, one in each hand and pulling in opposite directions, and you standing next to her. She had brought defective toys back to return. I had made it clear this was a waste of time and was in line to purchase something else. The customer service agent repeated the quotation a number of times while Julie kept saying, a little louder each time, "These toys are no good and I want my money back!" The astute manager magically appeared as the boys were building up a good head of steam, not controlled like an old train locomotive, but more like a volcano. The manager repeated the aforementioned statement. Julie repeated, with another notch or two of volume, you are selling junk and I want my money back. The look contained a non verbal message that said, "I am going to let these two boys loose so that I can deal with this problem." The next thing I heard was amazing. "I will make a one time exception and give you a full refund." I swear that the entire store heard him whisper this. I am still amazed that I quickly learned two things that day. One, ABSOLUTELY NO does not really mean ABSOLUTELY NO. Two, don't mess with Julie when she is on a mission. And, now Lee sees and understands the results of your Jedi training.