Saturday, June 13, 2009

Terror at Target

Wednesday afternoon, I took the girls to see Pixar’s Up and we all loved it. I highly recommend it.

Peanut wanted to bring Blanket to the movie.

I hemmed and hawed about it. Blanket has been with us since Peanut was an infant. We’ve had a long-standing policy that if Blanket comes with us on an errand, she (Blanket is definitely a she and Peanut is highly insulted if you suggest otherwise) must stay in the car.

But over the last few months, Blanket has been slowly fading in importance to Peanut. Many a night I find it crumpled in a corner of the living room hours after she’s gone to bed. Once it spent an entire weekend in the van. When I change Peanut’s sheets, I often find it shoved deep down in the bed, apparently no longer sought in the night for comfort.

So I decided to let her take it to the movie. Blanket’s sinking social status is just one more reminder to me that my sweet baby girl is slipping away from me – growing up more and more each day.

Throughout the film, I’d occasionally glance over to see Peanut holding Blanket up to her face and I’d smile, happy again to see Blanket loved and needed. When we left, I checked three times to make sure we had it. I checked again when we were in the van.

Then we went to Target.

We made our way slowly through the store, lingering in spots and hurrying in others. When I shopped, the girls poked around nearby.

We finished, paid, loaded up the car and drove home.

Well, almost home.

Target is about 25 minutes from my house and with just 8 minutes to go, Peanut spoke up from the back seat.

“Mom,” she said quietly. “I don’t have Blanket.”

It’s a good thing we were at a red light, because I turned my head practically all the way around. It was nearly a scene from The Exorcist.

“What?” I said. “You what?”

“I don’t have Blanket.”

I pulled the car over and did a thorough search and sure enough, Blanket was not there.

Baffled, I looked at Peanut. “Where is she? How could she be lost?”

Of course, I already knew the answer.

“I took her into Target,” Peanut said. “I stuffed her in my shirt and took her in and now she’s gone.”

I felt white hot anger flash before my eyes. She snuck her in. She knows she’s not supposed to do that.

Then Peanut started to sob. “Blanket,” she moaned. “Blanket.” Tears ran down her face and her shoulders shook with grief.

There was never any question that we were going to drive back to the store and search for her, but that sealed it.

But first, I called Mark.

“Look the store up on the web, please,” I said. “And call them. Tell them if anyone finds not to throw it out. I mean, it looks like a cleaning rag. It’s so old.”

Blanket was once white as new snow, her thick woven cotton gently ending on all four sides in a border of short fringe.

Now? She is sort of grayish and threadbare. The fringe is non-existent on one side and unraveling on the other.

In frank terms, Blanket looks pretty much like something you’d wipe a dirty table with.

I drove as quickly as possible back to the store. The traffic was thicker now and it seemed to take forever to get back to the store. And matters weren’t helped by Peanut, who sobbed violently all the way there.

Once parked, I raced inside, a girl in each hand, and stopped immediately at Guest Services.

“My daughter lost her blanket,” I sputtered. “Did anyone turn it in?”

The man and woman at Guest Services looked at me blankly. After several seconds a small, dim bulb seemed to go off in the man’s head.

“Ooooh. Yeah. Did your husband just call about this? If that was him, I told him we don’t have it.”

OK, first of all, how long ago could Mark have called? 10? 15? 20 minutes tops? And it took several seconds before BrillantGuy remembered the call?

And second, how many people lose blankets in Target on a daily basis? Chances are pretty good that the guy who JUST CALLED is probably related to the case at hand.

“I’m going to look through the store,” I said, “and I’m going to check back here before I leave. If anyone turns it in, just hold on to it. Don’t get rid of it.”

I felt this should have been obvious information, but given the less than auspicious start, figured it was prudent to emphasize it.

We then retraced our steps through the store, carefully looking in, over, under and around every single display. We looked in shopping carts that were left in aisles.

And through the store, I kept asking Peanut, “Do you remember having Blanket at this point.”

For about 1/3 of the store, she answered a confident, “yes,” but for the final 2/3 she was less certain – couldn’t remember – couldn’t say.

That helped, but still left a lot of store to search. When we reached the checkout area, we retraced again.

About halfway through the second search, Mark showed up. Thank GOD I have such an amazing husband. He’d found the manager, who refused to make a store-wide announcement.

He grabbed Peanut’s hand and went back to find the manager.

“I want him to explain to her why he can’t make an announcement,” he said. Meanwhile, Loaf and I continued searching.

I stopped every red-shirted employee I could find and explained the situation to them. A few were helpful but the majority were ridiculously unsympathetic.

Loaf and I went outside and I check the garbage cans. Then I checked the garbage cans at the front of the store near the checkouts. I checked the garbage cans in the ladies’ room.

Nothing. And still, no store announcement.

We retraced our steps AGAIN.

And then, from behind me, I heard Peanut’s laugh and I turned to see her up on Mark’s shoulder’s BLANKET IN HAND.

He’d found her in a waste basket under one of the price scanners. A waste basket used primarily by store employees.

Now, like I said earlier, Blanket is pretty worn, but if you took more than 2 seconds to look, it is still clearly a child’s blanket. Last summer, to prevent further unraveling, my mom sewed pink stitching through her in the shape of little connected hearts.

And someone put it in the trash.

I don’t know what I expected. I mean, someone throwing it out was my biggest fear – that’s the first thing I thought of. That’s why I asked Mark to call the store ASAP. But somehow, I guess, I hoped no one would actually do it. That someone would realize it was a child’s cherished possession and take one minute to turn it in.

Later, back at home, Peanut snuggled Blanket against her face.

“Mommy, Blanket does not think she looks like a cleaning rag,” she said defensively.

I heart sank.

“I don’t think that either, honey. I know Blanket is old, but I also know how much she’s been loved. But someone who doesn’t know how much she’s been loved might not see her that way. They might just see her as an old cloth.”

She considered that for a moment, then shook Blanket and raised her voice to mimic her talking.

“I don’t like that someone put me in the trash. Whoever did that was thoughtless.”

And that’s one statement I couldn’t really argue with.

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Blogger alejna said...

Argh, that sounds like a frustrating experience. I'm glad you found her in the end.

11:14 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

My youngest has a blankie that he just cannot sleep without..I can only imagine how sad she was.. thankfully you got her back..

4:12 AM  
Blogger Not Hannah said...

Without getting too deep before 9 AM, this is sort of indicative of our throwaway society, isn't it? We don't stop to appraise something's WORTH, we only look at its VALUE. Bleagh.

Two more things: I still sleep on Fluffy, the pillow I got when I was six. She's had several case transplants, but she was with me for the birth of both of my kids.

Also, if your mother is a sewer, maybe she could use Blanket as a centerpiece of a new quilt for Miz Peanut some time soon?

8:58 AM  
Anonymous mayberry said...

Oh, I'm so glad you got it back! My dad will STILL tell the story of speeding from an airport back to a hotel to retrieve my blanket, back in the day...!

2:46 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

What a nightmare. I'm so glad she got Blanket back!

For some reason, my four year old has started wanting to take Blankie places again, and while we highly discourage it, we also have the leave-it-in-the-car rule. Good to know that we should check that really happens!

12:40 AM  
Anonymous Mark G. said...

The people at Target were mostly terrible to deal with on this.

They had an opportunity to be much more than a faceless corporation trying to suck dollars out of our wallets, and they absolutely blew it.

For example, while driving to the store after receiving Kim's call, the 'customer service' people I called were heartless jerks that couldn't wait to do the absolute minimum and get off the phone. So I called back and asked to speak with the store manager. He was diplomatic and said he'd keep an eye out, but refused to make a store announcement.

Once I found the store manager in person while holding distraught Peanut, he found his humanity and did put in admirable effort to help find Blanket.

There were also two other floor employees who were very sympathetic and helpful. A young man who couldn't have been more than nineteen was spectacular.

Thank goodness we found Blanket!


7:00 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Wow--your dedication is admirable. But I hear you on this. My daughter is nine years old, and although she no longer has to take Special (the name of the special blanket) with her everywhere (this ended in the middle of preschool), she cannot go to sleep without Special curled beneath her head. It was once a lovely crocheted blanket and it now more or less a heap of yarn. Thank goodness for the lingerie bag or Special would end up all over the washing machine!

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so thankful that right now my daughter's lovie is a doll that we have been able to buy back-ups. After one night of not being able to find it right away, I knew we needed a second one for this type of situation. People who are not parents usually don't really understand something like this. Thank goodness you were able to find yours!

9:22 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicken said...

My heart was racing reading this. We once thought we lost Bunsie and it was hellish. HELLISH. So glad Blanket got found.

And what a bunch of asshats, and to throw it away! People suck sometimes.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Jeesh! What is wrong with those employees? I am glad she has it back now and boy is she ever right!!

1:22 PM  
Blogger Janice said...

I was in tears before I got to the end of this story. I was so worried that blanket did not find her way home. Thank goodness you were able to find her.

11:14 PM  

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