Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Burst Your Bubble

Dear stores and restaurants that give balloons to kids,


Thank you for giving the Little Dude a gift that he is obsessed with from the moment he spots it 50 yards away, until it either pops or floats to the clouds within 3 minutes after receiving it.  Naturally one of those two tragic outcomes occurs at the other end of the mall or as we are getting in the car, both of which are just beyond the statute of limitations for obtaining another one.   

I assume that your proprietor must be the devil and that’s why you offer primarily red balloons. Why not just give out melted popsicles or sick three-legged puppies or something else that will likely make kids very upset very quickly?  What is so appealing about balloons anyway? It’s just an overstretched piece of material filled with hot air, sort of like the polyester clothing of most of my high school teachers.  

To those of you at the local grocery store, you are doubly evil. Not only do you torture kids with cheap balloons tied to lollipops, but you also tempt them on the way both in and out of the store with vending machines filled with crap. And it’s not even appealing crap to anyone over the age of 3, it’s just basic garden variety junk.  It’s junk that sets me up for bigger headaches because inevitably whatever toy you show as the demo on the front of the machine is NEVER the one anyone gets when they retrieve their plastic egg.  You always show a cool looking Finn McMissile car and then after I drop in two quarters, out pops an Avian-flu infected feather or a pink plastic toad or a used Kleenex.  I’d rather the Little Dude just play with the quarters if they are going to get thrown out anyway. 


It’s no secret that companies like Camel and Budweiser got in trouble several years ago for using cartoons and animals to attract underage kids to their products they won't be allowed to enjoy legally for many years.  So why do supermarkets believe they can make my son enjoy helping me search the store for the correct kind of frozen peas by offering a giant plastic car covered in Streptococcus strapped to the front of a shopping cart? He obviously won't be driving for a while. There’s nothing that makes a Dude looks goofier than pushing around that monstrous cart with the giant red zit in front.  Believe me, I know from the empathetic nods I get from older men dragged to the store by their lovely wives.

Candy machine at a local restaurant.
Worst "game" ever.
To the local restaurant that features one of those giant crane machines filled with candy, you are the worst.  You make me look like the bad guy because I don’t want to waste 50 cents for one measly Twizzler or pack of Smarties.  Somehow you manage to make people ignore the fact that you charge more than a movie theater and airport gift shop combined for this junk.  


So with balloons handed out like Jehovah’s Witnesses Fliers, and junk-filled vending machines every 20 yards throughout the local strip centers, malls and gas stations, how can I avoid these booby-traps placed just about everywhere I go for nearly every product we use?  I guess I’ll take my business to Amazon.  They ship everything in those bland brown boxes filled with the giant bubble wrap.  While the bubbles will inevitably get popped inside my house, at least they won’t float away right as the UPS truck pulls out of my driveway.

Sincerely,
The Dude


read to be read at yeahwrite.me

73 comments:

  1. Good times.

    ~KimPugliano, the G is silent

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  2. And what about the claw machines that make you a Loser parent because you can't beat the worse than Vegas odds of actually retrieving a toy with those loose hooks? "Win me THAT one, Mommy!". Um, I can't even win you the one you hate, my love."

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    1. I saw a kid trying repeatedly to get some lame stuffed animal in one of those the other day. He kept trying and never got any closer. Oh well...

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  3. Fantastic post Dude.....

    The things at this point I only need to think about, but for years, won't have to face.

    But I will say I do love the crane.....LOL

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    1. Thanks, KD! All good things in all good time. You'll get your chance, just wait...

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  4. So funny! Yes, these landmines are everywhere! Love your posts Jay, they are truly awesome.

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    1. Thanks, Shannon. You are too kind.

      Keep your eyes open, they are everywhere!

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  5. Dear stores and restaurants that give balloons to kids,
    Thank you. Thank you for bringing a smile to my kid's face, and three minutes later for teaching them that free balloons don't last. I am parent enough to handle their reaction and allow it to be a teachable moment. "Oh well, wasn't that fun while it lasted. We'll get another one next time." The lost-balloon syndrome has taught my kids the phrase "one to a customer" and that life goes on, even without a red balloon.

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    1. That's a great lesson, Daisy. Also, you can teach your kids to wear steel-toed boots and kick the people who give out the balloons.

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  6. FOund you at finding the funny. The balloons remind me of a scene in a French store I was in in February. A little girl brought a balloon into the store with her and somehow, it popped and she cried and cried and cried. And the very French mother looked at her and say "well" with a tone of I told you so and that was that. No sympathy for the little girl. NO assurances that she could get another. Just a "well". Well, there you go. Told you. get over it. I loved that little scene!

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    1. Glad to have you! I can totally picture that scenario. Some parents are just difficult. That kid is sure to turn out well.

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    2. Man. When you think about it, there is so much marketing directed at kids. Gumball machines were my weakness back in the day.

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    3. The stuff inside them will make your teeth feel weak now, Gia.

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  7. I used to go in with 4 kids. 4 kids= 4 balloons. One pops and all hell breaks loose, because no one is willing to "share" their balloon. Mom gets pissy. Mom pops everyone's balloons. Not my best moment, but I never had to ask anyone to share a balloon ever again.

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    1. The thing about balloons is that once the helium wears off in 12-24 hours, NO ONE wants to touch them. They end up laying on the floor for a while before someone throws them out. Or at least that's what happens at my house.

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  8. "car covered in streptococcus" BAHAHAHAH. Ain't that the truth! This post was so funny and true. It's insane how much stuff a person has to dodge at the store in order to get outside without huge tantrum meltdowns!

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    1. Thanks, Carrie. It's maddening/nauseating.

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  9. I just snorted. I hear you Dude. Try taking 5 kids with you to the store and dealing with the whining, the begging, the crying....no really, try dealing with it. I can have the packed up within 5 minutes and ready to go. What's your address again??

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    1. A Delilah snort makes my day :)

      5 kids, I can't even fathom. I'd seek balloons to take me away, like in "UP".

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    1. I can't even imagine what it'll be like when he's older, Lisa. Sigh...

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  11. I hate to say it, Dude, but I still like the gum balls delivered from those evil vending machines. I think the flavor was imprinted in my brain during my childhood, but I guess that's the point.

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    1. Just thinking about that gum makes my teeth hurt, Joe.

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  12. I just drew the line on those cars in front of the cart. As if grocery shopping isn't challenging enough with 2 small kids...let's add in this germ ridden cart. Plus, it is impossible to steer, I'm always taking out displays with it and my kids end up fighting. "She's too close to me, he touched my steering wheel." UGH!

    High five for this post!

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    1. Thanks, Mags! Steering those carts is like steering a bumper car on ice. Nearly impossible.

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  13. i'm ok with the balloons but the other crap notsomuch. fortunately my kid hasn't had a taste of the other crap so she doesn't bug me about it yet... but when that day comes, i'm sure i'll be thinking of this post. :)

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    1. Be sure to print a copy to keep handy, Christina :)

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  14. I had to laugh at this because I remember those days very well. It was a "been there, done that" laugh. At least I never had to deal with the giant red zit shopping cart.

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    1. Ugh, they suck. You are lucky, Katherine.

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  15. We just tell our children that we don't carry change, so there's no way we can give them a quarter for the toy machine.

    But, of course, grandma and grandpa get hours of endless entertainment out of watching the kids use "The CLAW" to grab toys from the crane machine in a local pizza place. My son is totally a SpongeBob in this situation and he manages to get the toy he wants every.freaking.time. He turned 7 yesterday...

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    1. Perhaps you should be using his talents on bigger things, like lottery tickets or slot machines?

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  16. I lie to them. I tell them I don't have any $$ for the stupid machines and try to remind them of all the shit we have at home that they begged for and now don't play with. LOL.

    I am so with you. Balloons don't bother me as much, but the rest of that crap needs to go. I hate it.

    *fist bump*

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    1. HaHa, thanks for the fist-bump, Erin.

      How can we get rid of this stuff? We should start a campaign like they've done to get rid of junk food in schools. This is a bigger problem, IMO.

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  17. My son is obsessed with balloons. OBSESSED. And we lose them when we get into the car, which is beyond annoying and tragic and ruins the day. I am with you every word.

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    1. Or if they don't get lost, they bounce around so you can't see while driving, which is actually even more annoying, IMO.

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  18. Our kids are each allowed to bring one small toy with them when we leave the house, which usually curbs their asking for more. They know they can't have candy unless it's a specific time and kind of candy (allergies), AND.... I carry Lysol wipes in my diaper bag for the carts. Haha. It's doesn't make it any prettier, but it gets the filth off. At least I think so. ;-)
    I really enjoyed reading this, you gave such hilarious descriptions of the stuff we as parents have to battle every day. I think it would make great reading material for a sex ed class. ;-)

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    1. Our grocery store stocks wipes at the entrance, but the container usually looks pretty filthy.

      How can we get this into the educational system, Dawn? there's got to be a way!

      Thanks for your kind words.

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  19. We just had a breakdown over one of those crane machines at the movie theatre. After seeing a perfectly enjoyable movie, spending loads on two popcorns (the kid was hungry) and smiles all around, the day was ruined after I refused to spend any more than $10 trying to win "the cute puppy" out of the fraudulent crane machine. No good deed goes unpunished.

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    1. Those machines should be outlawed! They are total scams.
      You could have gone to Target and gotten a better puppy for less than $10! You are a saint.

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  20. Bear with me here, but how COOL would it be to have those little cars actually steer the carts? Shopping would be even more stressful! My son would probably take it pretty seriously though. I let him start our car the other day and he was the most solemn I'd ever seen him until it was over.

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    1. I have a hard enough time steering it and I've been driving for more than two decades. I have to imagine my 2.5 year old companion might not fair as well.

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  21. I love that the game is "not over until you win!" That restaurant is like Hotel California.

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  22. I am with you here. Total solidarity!

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  23. highly amusing! I convinced my kids early on that it was cheap toys that would break easily & we could get a lot cooler, better stuff at Target.

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    1. You are 10000% correct, Robbie. I try to push that point, too.

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  24. My kids love the "car carts." I always pray there are no more left when we pull into the grocery store. I'm pretty sure the nasty stomach virus that knocked out my whole family last week came from that damn blue car cart.

    Awesome post.

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    1. Thanks, Momfog. Those things are bacteria traps covered in lord-knows how many layers of toddler cough. Hope your gang is feeling better.

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  25. Funny but also deep and interesting. How to navigate the aisles of American crap with a little one. . .mine are past the age of balloon-wanting but they do their best to manipulate me over to the ice cream section!

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    1. I'd MUCH rather deal with ice cream, Louise :)

      Of course my Little Dude now knows when we pull into the strip mall with the ice cream place and requests a stop, even if we are just planning on going to the drug or grocery store. Sigh.

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  26. Ha! I just loved this. So funny and true. You could write a book about this.

    Pippi

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  27. A germaphobe after my own heart! Love it.

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    1. Thanks! Let's high-five, then slather up some Purell.

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  28. I felt for your 'man card' about the grocery-car-cart... but I assure you the ladies probably admire you more for being the cool dad. :)

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  29. Why are the straps in the carts ALWAYS broken as well? My 3 year old loves to ride in them, but she will inevitable fall out as I make an extremely treacherous turn with the most ill-designed vehicle ever constructed. Last time, I actually RAN HER OVER WITH THE CAR(T).

    I hate those things.

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    1. Seriously, that is an excellent point. They are always broken. Haha!

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  30. Agreed!! I must say I am not the racecar carts biggest fan but if it buys me a few minutes of piece I'm all for it!

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    1. You've gotta do what you've gotta do sometimes. You are right, Michelle.

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  31. AMEN!!!!! I loathe that grocery cart, too. It's so damn difficult to navigate, and the free balloon is a source of stress throughout the entire trips. If he's not slapping me in the face with it, he's annoying his brother, who will whine about the nuisance THE ENTIRE TIME we're there. Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Adrienne. Now how do we change the system??

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  32. Good times in the grocery store. It never gets better, they get bigger and ask for more expensive crap. ;)

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    1. Ugh. How do you deflect it when they become more convincing, Jack?

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  33. Too funny! I had not read your post until you commented on mine, but it's nice to know I have a fellow car cart hater :). Fortunately we have not discovered the vending machines yet but I cringe for when we do!

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  34. Actually, I like getting bouncy balls out of those grocery store machines. And FINALLY, something to do with my change! I got three bouncy balls at Lowe's and my son and I had what I could only describe as a "fiesta to the death."

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