I’ve just purchased three birthday gifts, and I feel like I deserve a freakin’ medal. Let me elaborate.
My eldest son was invited to multiple birthday parties this weekend. (Oh, the joy of grade-school life) Upon deliberating the inviters, the styles of parties, and who might be there, we landed on two parties with three birthday kids. (Hooray for combined parties) I, being unwilling to shop for children whose tastes I do not know, included a query as to an appropriate gift with our RSVP’s. The list? Legos, books, and money for an iPod. Stellar. *thumbs up*
Not being one to hand cash to someone else’s child, I thought to myself, “Hey, I could get an iTunes card.”
Followed by, “Hey, I don’t know what books they have, I could get Barnes & Noble cards, too!”
**Side note: While my boys love Legos, and they love to select Legos, I do NOT love the trip to the store to select said Lego sets for friends. While *thank goodness* my boys have learned to read price tags, and therefore can self-regulate the size of sets they’re choosing as a gift, purchasing birthday gifts for other children are often a 30-60 minute debacle of wandering through toy sections, choosing and dismissing choices, reminding them that they’re purchasing for others, and informing them that generosity is an admirable character trait, gosh darn it, so STOP WHINING AT ME!**
Pulling up to retrieve my children from school, I noticed the eScrip booth out front. For those not familiar, eScrip is a program that allows schools to sell gift cards and reap a portion of the face value as a fundraiser. “Huzzah!” I thought to myself, “I can buy all three at the same place, save some hassle, and benefit the school at the same time!!”
Ah, the unbridled optimism…
I walked up: “I’d like a $15 iTunes card and two $15 Barnes & Noble cards.”
“Sorry, we only have $10 or $25 for Barnes & Noble.”
WhaAA??????? Apparently these puppies come in very, very specific amounts. And not the amounts I want. We budget $15 per friend birthday gift, and when you’re staring down three birthday gifts in the same weekend, it’s non-negotiable. Pause. Breathe. Okay, I can work with this…
“Okay, then the $15 iTunes card and two $10 Barnes & Noble cards” **inside voice** which won’t save me the trip to Barnes & Noble, but whatever, I can make this work, and we’re still helping the school…. **back to out-loud voice** “Do you take cards as payment?”
(insert internal expletive) Gotcha, okay, I get it, card transaction fees, yada, yada, yada… And yes, I could choose to carry a checkbook everywhere with me or carry cash, but I don’t roll that way.
“Okay, will you be here tomorrow so that I can bring you a check?”
(insert internal expletive) “Ooookay…” So the nice lady writes up my order, sets aside my gift cards, and I go home, planning to pick them up from school the next day. I then traipse myself and two sons off to Barnes & Noble to buy the other $5 to add to the $10, thus making $15 (Isn’t math FUN?!?)
While out on errands today, I had the forethought to get $40 cash back on a purchase, so *YAY*, I am now the proud holder of $40 cash for my gift cards. I then brought my cute li’l self to the office (since the lady was not on duty with the eScrip cards today) to get my goods. I tell them what I want, they get my cards, she hands me the envelope, I hand over my $40 cash…. full stop.
“We don’t have any change.”
Any?!? Like, as in ANY change? You mean all the small people that bought lunch, and all the various things that people pay fees for, and all those transactions that happen in a given day and you don’t have any CHANGE?!?!!?
*deep breath* “Okay, are there any gift cards that are $5?”
None. Niente. Nada. Zip. Not a single solitary card to make my life just a little easier on this day. At which point, a super-well-meaning-unhelpful guy misunderstands my dilemma, and offers me $5 from his wallet for what he thinks is my financial shortcoming. No, thanks. Not short, needing change BACK.
“Well, can you come and get them on Monday?”
Nope, birthday parties are this weekend. This is when one of the secretaries comes to my rescue and offers to spring the gift cards for me in return for one of my two $20 bills, reminding me that, if I don’t make good on the other $15, she “knows where to find me.”
I love secretaries with good senses of humor.
I walk out the office to find a mother sitting next to boxes of Girl Scout cookies. GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!! Which they sell at $5 a pop! Surely, this woman has change!!
“Hi, are you selling those?”
“Yes, yes I am.”
“Great, do you have change to break a $20?”
“Uh, no.” **inside voice** Then how, in the world, do you expect, to sell, your cookies?!?!? (My inside voice punctuates for effect, not by the rules)
So I leave, gift cards in hand, to find a place to break my $20. STARBUCKS!!! This is my happy place! The place that will soothe my pains, caffeinate my ill-tempered self, and provide a purchasing opportunity to break my Jackson. Solution!
I walk in, place my order, scan my card on my phone (I collect stars like a fiend) and hand her my $20. Aaaand she gives me a blank stare.
“Did you want to load the card?”
“No, I just wanted to get the star for the transaction, but I’m paying with cash.”
At which point she gives a condescending look, cops a tone, and informs me that I’m *clearly* mistaken. And I’m done.
“I don’t care. Just take my $20. Make my coffee. Give me my change. I need three $5 bills. And that. Is. All.”
Collect my change, my coffee, and kids, and return, again, to the school. I walk my $15 into the office, and may never purchase eScrip again.
Heaven help me, I’m ready for a beverage. And a medal.