Bad Father, Mediocre Cookies, Bob’s Furniture

The kids leaving Bob's.

The kids leaving Bob’s—disgraced by their old man.

We all have our pathetic moments.

Today, I had an awful one.

So the wife is out of town attending a conference, and I’m solo with the tykes. Not a big deal. We spend the morning at home, goofing around, playing this and that. At noon we leave, grab some lunch at California Pizza Kitchen, make our regular pilgrimage to the neighboring parrot store, then the Asian supermarket for bubble tea.

After that, we passed a few hours at a park, then I had a couple of missions—buy my daughter shoes, and try and find a mini video cam at Best Buy. Somewhere along the way, Casey and Emmett got a tad hungry. There was McDonald’s—big no. Starbucks—definitely not. Then we approached Bob’s Furniture, an enormous store known for beds, love seats, recliners, desks … and free snacks.

“Hmm …” I thought to myself.

The next thing you know, the three of us were taking the escalator up to Bob’s. This, I thought, would be simple. Bob’s always has hundreds of shoppers roaming the floor. We’d enter, walk over to the free food area, snag some cookies and a couple of lemonades, then leave. No sweat. Right!

Uh, right?

So we reach the store, and immediately Mike—big guy, ill-fitting suit, warm smile—approaches. “Hi! What can I help you with today?”

Craps. I’m trapped. I can’t tell him we have no intentions of purchasing a damn thing; that we’re here for the eats. Instead, I (gasp!) bullshit. “Yeah, uh …”—I spot the mattresses—”… the wife and I want to buy a mattress. But she’s running late.” Mike tells me he’d be happy to show me and the kids all the mattresses. I glance toward my daughter, age 10. She’s not happy. “Well, it’d probably be a waste,” I say. “She sorta makes the decisions.”

Mike smiles. “Not a problem,” he says. “We have a free snack area over there, you should help yourself …”

Great!

“… I’ll just walk on over and wait with you.”

Terrible.

So the kids each snag two sugar cookies and Mike hovers, waiting … waiting … waiting. It’s at this very moment that I feel like a complete and total turd. Mike is a nice guy working on commission. He thinks I’m a potential sale—when, in actuality, I’m the dickhead who’s too cheap to spend $2 on some McDonaldland cookies. At this point, I’m truly screwed. I can admit the truth to Mike—which, though probably righteous, doesn’t really seem a viable option. I can have my son pretend he just crapped his pants—bad karma. Eventually, I do what any cheap bastard coward asswipe would do—I pick up my cell phone, dial my own number and pretend to ask the wife when she plans on arriving at the store. I then tell Mike how sorry I am, but that she’s running late. He asks that, when she shows up, I request him at the main counter. “Of course,” I say.

For the record, there’s no reason to berate me. I’m awful, and I know it.

A. Because poor Mike was played.

B. Because my kids witnessed the whole episode.

Once we left Bob’s, I actually explained to the tykes (in great detail) why what just happened was awful, and inexcusable, and a very low moment. They both understood. My daughter (bless her) genuinely hurt for Mike. “Well,” she said, “at least we gave a $3 tip at the food bar.” Actually, it was $2. Glub.

This will gnaw at me for a while.

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