I know I said I wasn’t going back our usual kids-eat-free spot. I was simply tired of the inefficiency. And I had every intention of sticking to that resolution. Just shows that sometimes I can eat my words along with my freak-pizza. But now I’m really done. We went, and it was the biggest disaster to date.
I decided to contact the manager. After all, they can’t fix what they don’t know about. It took me a couple of hours to construct the email. Yes, email. Did I mention that I don’t do conflict well? I told him how much I enjoy shopping in the store in general because I really do. They have excellent prices on their organic milk and eggs, their peanut butter is full of freshly-ground awesomeness, there are no artificial ingredients in anything in the store. I then expressed my disappointment in the mess that has become kids-eat-free night. I also added some observations about the time when free-food night was not an actual free-for-all and made a couple of suggestions for improvement. Yes, friends and neighbors, my letter was straight from the annals of “How To Talk To Your Spouse So That They Don’t Think You’re a Whiny Crybaby, Vol III.” Those
manipulation marriage conferences pay off in the real world sometimes.
Before I hit “send,” I, of course, carefully removed the signature with the link to my blog. The blog that contains photos of myself and my children. Photos that could potentially identify me and forever brand me with a scarlet letter “B.” (You can use your imagination to guess what that stands for. I’m sure you’ll come up with something.)
Within an hour, I had a response. A very apologetic response. The manager shared that he would be having a meeting with all of those involved to brainstorm and see how to make the experience more efficient. And he told me that there is a $10 gift card waiting at customer service for my trouble. Mmm-hmm. A gift card, or as I see it, bait. I am pretty sure that there is no actual gift card. They are just trying to draw me into the store so they can identify the whiner who ruined their lives.
I considered letting my husband collect the card for me. After all, he rarely goes there. They’d never make the connection. But there is probably some trace on the card itself. I am sure that if I ever tried to use it, an alarm will sound, red lights will flash, and all those vegans will satisfy their craving for human flesh. Maybe I have vegans confused with vampires. But still, it wouldn’t be pretty. So I am letting the card go and skipping the store on Thursday nights. You see where this is going, right?
Last night, my daughter and I were out getting a haircut. We were within a mile of the store, so it made sense to drop by and pick up coffee and milk, the two most essential morning substances. A heartbeat too late, it dawned on me that the path from the milk cooler to the register was leading me right…past..the deli counter. On Thursday night.
Granted, free-food hours had already passed. And the total lack of customers at the counter meant that the chefs had nothing to do but watch me as I slunk past on my way to escape the store. Did they know who the complainer was until that moment? Probably not. I’m sure their conversation went something like this:
“Who do you think it was? They said they were regular customers.”
“I don’t know. There are so many. Which regular customer didn’t show up tonight?”
“Maybe that one right there? It’s Pesto-Chicken-Pizza Lady! We knew something was wrong with her.”
I could feel their eyes burning into me, practically smell the stink-eye as I tried to act all cool and casual. Maybe I imagined it. Maybe it was all in my head, the years of home-training that drilled into my skull the notion that only evil people complain. Or maybe they really are planning to poop on my next pesto chicken pizza. I am not taking any chances. Before my next visit, I’m getting plastic surgery and a disguise.