Saturday, June 18, 2011

Last Night at the Tractor Supply.

I was working last night when a man comes up and says that his daughter needs a cowboy hat and cannot find one that fits. He wants to know if any of our other stores might have the size we need. He's obviously willing to take the trip. Now, there's a number of things going on: the hospital is having their 'Hoedown' (a fundraiser). People have been coming in and buying western gear for that, people that you know are not going to probably ever wear the stuff again, and it amazes me, a little, that people would spend money like that. Another thing going on is that we have various 'camp' programs going on, a great many of them also with a western theme and counselers have been coming in for western gear. So we've been selling a lot of western clothes. I'd stocked hats though, and I thought we had pretty much most every size, so I walked over with him. We figured out what size the girl wore, and I found the hat she needed. The father said, "We want to buy a pair of boots too, but the only pair that you have that she likes are the display boots. I told him that we'd give him a 'distressed merchandise' discount. He was happy about that, and the last that I saw them, they were headed over to look at western belts.

Wasn't long and they were back up to the counter with a couple hundred dollars of western clothing for the girl. There was a problem though. The young girl had sent (via cell phone) a picture of the boots to her friend, who had declared them 'ugly'. She was not sure that she wanted the boots. The father stood by patiently as she texted her friends to do an informal poll. He explained that she was headed to Pittsburgh this weekend to see Taylor Swift in concert.


After some texting and agonizing, the father said to me, "These boots? Are they the sort of boots that anyone wears?" I laughed a little. "These are Ariat boots and they are the nicest boots we have. These are what the horsewomen wear." He said, "Okay..." and turned back to his daughter who was standing by her brother, still texting wildly about the boots. They all were such a unlikely trio. The father looked like Sgt. Carter from Gomer Pyle, with the buzz cut. The boy had long hair and a double lip piercing. The girl looked like a blonde rodeo queen. After about five minutes, her friends decided that the boots were acceptable after all, and so they came to the register and paid for their purchases. The girl explained what sort of shirt she'd need to go with the everything, and her father said, "Well, we'll hurry up and go to the mall."

I've been thinking on this. You know, the concert tickets weren't cheap, I imagine, and they've still got to get that girl to Pittsburgh, food and lodging on top of all the clothing. I wondered what it would be like just to do this sort of thing, just give a night like this to your children without thinking twice about it. Suddenly, I found myself wishing I could have been generous and openhanded like this with my kids, even as I thought, "No. It's not good for a child to be given everything that they want." Wanting stuff is a powerful motivator. Kids will work like crazy if they want something.

I don't know. I watched them walk out the door, the three of them deep in conversation. They seemed like a close family. And I found myself torn between wishing it would have been different for my own kids, and knowing that it worked out perfectly fine anyway.


BB said...

I love that the Dad was so patient with his kids (even when one was being 'tricky')... the real villian in this scenario is that blessed mobile phone! Honestly - I dread the day when my kids get them and begin ensuring the outside world approves of their decision-making. *shudder*
THAT was a definite advantage of your particular experience! That, and the fact that your kids understand the true value of things...


Mary O. Paddock said...

Perhaps this was a really huge birthday present for this young lady--I hope so--and not something she gets every day. I don't know that I would have been thrilled with the texting thing, myself but . . .

Interestingly, Deb, I'm reading this on a day that we're trying to get Sam ready for church camp (the church pays for this and the kids do "chores" for members in return). His older brother has just returned and was supposed to "be careful" and bring home the bug spray and the sun block so Sam can use them. Older brother--of course--lost the sun block. I called my Mom to see if she had an extra bottle of it. Fortunately, she did. Did I do this because I'm too cheap to spend another $5.00? No. It's because money is that tight. The other day I was fretting about (once again) sending them in older clothes when Sam rolled his eyes and said, "Mom--nobody there is rich and it's camp. And they DON'T CARE whether my clothes are new or not." Last week, my oldest son helped buy the food for Daniel's birthday dinner--insisted on it in fact. Sometimes he goes shopping and brings things home to add to supper and he does it like it's no big deal. This morning Daniel offered to buy coffee creamer (he doesn't even drink coffee) because I commented that we were out of it. Their generosity astounds and humbles me, but in their mind they're contributing to the family. Some days not being able to indulge them more bothers me, but then I see (largely) unspoiled kids who don't take what they're given for granted and I think that just maybe it's for the best.

Jayne said...

Like Mary I hope it was just a birthday pressie and not something she gets whenever she asks for it!

Anonymous said...

'Wanting stuff is a powerful motivator. Kids will work like crazy if they want something'.

And appreciate it more when they get it.

Kelly said...

Whatever the case, I certainly hope she sincerely wished her dad a happy Father's Day today.

And I had to smile at the Sgt. Carter reference. I use to enjoy that show.

quid said...

She didn't want authentic boots, just the kind that looked good! How I love that.

I had a lot of years where I could give my kids just about anything they wanted. They know that is no longer the case. Somehow, I think they respect me more in declaring my independence (and accompanying semi-poverty) than they would if I could give them all they wished.

But, it did kill me not to be able to take the 2 of them to Atlanta to hear the Eagles together a couple of years ago. That would have been one of the great trips. $600+ for concert tickets took it out of my reality. We sang their songs to "Hell Freezes Over" in the car together. Somehow, I think it was more memorable.