So, one of the most exhilarating times in retail (next to Christmas) is when all good little angels return to the bosom of the educational system. When parents are driven crazy with lists of supplies, requests for new clothes, and for the older kids, the coolest furniture for dorm rooms. When the only thing between these parents and a complete mental break is a lowly, sales associate. He or she is the one person they count on to know where stuff is, how much it costs, and sometimes, to help them decide if their perfect little angel needs the Swiss Army back pack with a $60 price tag.
After suffering through another year, I slowly came to the realization that parents are being ripped off. Here’s a list of the usual suspects:
-The Public School System
And, the way they’re doing it is through those lovely school lists. Have you seen one of these things? Now, I’m going to date myself here, because lord knows it’s been awhile since I was in grade school. I remember when school supplies were three-prong, paper folders (if they had pockets, that was a luxury), pencils (pens if you were responsible enough), and loose leaf paper (college rule or wide rule). As you progressed, there was the addition of the book bag and maybe a calculator (for really advanced math). Everything else was pretty much provided by the school.
Apparently, I was learning in the hey day when school systems had abundant stacks of money. Now, I guess budget cuts have transformed them into world class moochers. Since when is a student required to bring in dry erase markers? Or, better yet, hand sanitizer? Why does a kindergartner need to bring in ream of construction paper? Or a box of kleenex tissues? I actually saw one list requesting each kid bring in their own D’nealian handwriting workbook. Not the paper tablet. The actually instructional workbook. Is it me? Or, is that just insane?
And, poor parents are running around trying to find it all. I lost count how many times I was mobbed for hand sanitizer. When inventory was finally reduced to those travel size bottles, one parent exclaimed, “Well, that’s just too small! The school will never accept that!” She said it with such force, that I imagined little Johnny being turned away with a note attached to his chest stating, “Your child is unteachable, because he refused to bring the right amount sanitizer to class.”
Yeah, I have to rat my own profession out on this one. We’re responsible for whipping kids into a frenzy so great where they believe learning can’t happen without a certain shoe, book bag, or pencil case. One little girl actually told her mother she wouldn’t be able to go to school if she didn’t have a certain Ni Hao Kai Lan book bag. Everyone would have one except her and I guess by having it, they would succeed where she would fail. The argument seems logical to anyone who’s recently suffered severe head trauma. Apparently, this parent had because she immediately asked me to check another store for the bag. I blame our store’s ad, aired every commercial break on Nick Jr., which this child probably watched no less than a hundred times this summer.
It’s real. The last culprit on the list. Parents: never take you child school shopping with his or her friends. Inevitably, the friend will always have some school related object that you are not willing to buy for your child. If you take said companion along, they will throw the fact they own said object into your child’s face, which will turn your child into whining idiot. This year, the object is a Trapper Keeper. Yes, they still make them. This one costs $30 dollars. Parent says no and child proceeds to whine loudly from one side of the store to the other. It’s horrible. All because his friend (who mysteriously became mute after inciting the situation) had one and said it was the coolest thing ever.
So, here’s to you parents. Congratulations for surviving yet another year despite the odds being stacked against you. To the parents who have yet to go through, good luck. To the sales people with frayed nerves, just remember: you could be their only saving grace.