I was given a quest this week to buy crayons. No problem, right? As my favorite character from The Big Bang Theory might have put it: “Easy-peasy, oh so breezy.”
This simple task turned out to be a lot more difficult than expected.
Way back in–oh, say July–my son decided what he wanted for Christmas. Thanks to some helpful people with gift cards burning holes in their pockets, I have a nice twin-sized air mattress waiting to be wrapped. Also pending festive paper–some very green pants/yoga pants/sweatpants and one sweatshirt from some nice people who heard “he likes green” and really went to town on their Amazon accounts. It will look like a giant from Ireland is visiting all the time now.
So, fast forward to December, my kid does a search online and emphatically stabs the screen with a pointy finger, identifying four different packages of crayons available at our local dollar store.
I was all, “Sure honey, we can ask Santa to bring them.” Thinking, Whew, that’s lucky. They only cost a dollar each with tax!
I have to wonder if Frodo started his adventures in Mordor with a similar optimistic naivete?
Frodo: “It’s only a ring. Mordor is, what, 2863 Hobbit Kilometers from the shire? Piece of seed cake!”
[For the Americans reading, that is about 1779 Hobbit miles. So, not exactly a day trip.]
I can only shop on Tuesdays and Thursdays when someone from the local social welfare organization comes and stays with my child. So, Tuesday, I headed over to our nearest Dollar Tree–the one my son frequents to feed his crayon addiction and pack-a-day habit. We come here so often, I’m surprised we don’t actually own aisle six at this point. We certainly fiscally support its existence.
I search and search this store but, for the life of me, can’t find any of the crayons my kid has asked for. They have the 10-pack “Jumbo” crayons but only a couple of the 24-pack boxes. and none of the Cars characters he has adamantly demanded as priority number one! I purchase the Frozen crayons and broach the subject with the cashier.
I hold up the ‘Crayons Wanted‘ sheet my son had me print out as his wish list/ransom demands.
“Uh, excuse me, have you seen any of these?” I ask the man, I recognize him as the manager and am surprised he’s on the till.
The man barely glances at the print-out.
“Yeah, but if it isn’t on the shelf we’re out.” He’s abrupt, and just a tad Grinch-like in his demeanor. I’m surprised I don’t hear ‘Bah Humbug‘ as a chaser.
He is between customers, so it’s not like I’m interrupting his day that much.
“When do you think you’ll get another shipment in?” I ask, as patiently as I can.
“I’ll probably get a shipment in Sunday, but they might not get stocked until Monday or Tuesday next week. Check back then.”
I’ve clearly been dismissed. I head out and decide to try my luck at the next dollar store. It is as I am leaving that I spot the ‘help-wanted sign’ in the foyer. In retrospect, this explains the frazzled, surly manager.
The Dollar General is down the road about five minutes away. I pull in, mask up and head in. I’m still jaunty and gun ho. I may even have a little kick in my step. I’m on a mission to do good! I shall prevail!
I do the same hunt-search in the paper and school products. I can’t find any similar crayons with the desired cartoon characters. I ask the clerk on the cash register–going through the same “Have You Seen These Crayons?” routine as before.
“Uh, I don’t think we carry that brand.” The girl says. “You could try the Family Dollar. They are affiliated with the Dollar Tree company.”
I schlep to the closest Family Dollar. I peruse the shelves and, to my dismay, discover that despite the assurance of the previous clerk, this store also does not carry the desired Cars/Frozen/Trolls/PawPatrol packs my kid wants.
I give up for the day as I need to get actual groceries at some point. After all, I still have Thursday to go hunt for these things. Or, maybe I’ll just order them online.
Later that night…
It only takes a few attempts searching the internet to learn that Amazon does not sell these crayons in any version. My son got the pictures from somewhere, but it takes me several failed search efforts to figure out that I have to go to the Dollar Tree website. There I discover, sure I can buy the 24-pack crayons my kids wants, if I buy a case of them for $32.00. My finger hovers over the ‘Buy Now’ option for a lot longer than it should have. But common sense prevails and I do not click that button. (Admittedly, it was only because I was terrified that the shipment wouldn’t include the four kinds my kid so desperately wants.)
“Besides,” I tell myself. “I can always find some Thursday!”
Thursday proves me wrong.
The Dollar Tree stores now close at 6:00pm. (Thank you very much Covid-19.) I go to…I don’t know, maybe six stores altogether? I lost count–and my will to live–after striking out time after time. By store four, this is no longer a quest for glory–it is a desperate bid to win the love and adoration of my child for whom these crayons have become a symbol of all that is good in the universe. (This, despite the fact that he beheads them and rips the paper off each waxy stick the minutes he gets them. My son is a crayon serial killer. Crayola probably has his face on a warning poster in their head offices.)
When I find two packs of Mickey Mouse crayons, I decide I’d better grab them while I can. And, no, for those of you who paid attention to the images above, these are NOT ones he’s asked for. So I can’t chalk this up as a ‘Win’.
I drive to every Dollar Tree within a twenty-mile radius. I do not find a single pack of the CARS crayons my son wants.
I do the only thing a mom in my position can do at this juncture. I raise the white flag of surrender and post a request to Facebook for people to hunt their area Dollar Tree stores. I promise reimbursement and a “I’ll travel to pick them up–within the State of Michigan” assurances. [I’m crazy determined, but not actually insane.]
By the next day, one of my cousins–twice removed–tells me she found the Cars crayons.
Sunday, I happily drive the forty-five minutes it takes to get to her house. At the door, we do an awkward dance back and forth to avoid breathing on each other. I admire her very cute baby as I am stuffing the disguised package into my coat so my son won’t see what she’s given me.
We chat happily for a few minutes, her baby is absolutely adorable but not dressed for December in Michigan weather, so I bid her farewell. Hopefully I remembered to thank her profusely.
So that was my grand quest fulfilled. We will now just wait and see whether the kid changes his mind again between now and December 25th.
And to all my friends and family who made trips to your Dollar Trees on our behalf, thank you. I truly, truly appreciate the kindness and caring!