Wednesday, December 18, 2019

When Your Kid Needs That ONE THING for Christmas

Every year the news will run a story about that ONE THING that every kid is clamoring for; the ONE THING all the kids just must have; the ONE THING the stores are sold out of and that you can't find anywhere.

I've always laughed at those stories. I've scoffed at the idiotic parents driving all over town to try to find that ONE THING. I hadn't really worried about it, because it wasn't going to happen to me. Why? Because I'm not a very trendy person, and neither are my kids. And even if my kids did say they wanted that ONE THING, we often don't have enough money for it. I had never experienced the hunt for the ONE THING.

Until this year.

A few weeks ago I was walking through Walmart with my three year-old boy. He likes dinosaurs, and he loves monster trucks. (Sometimes he'll call them "monstrucks!") On the toy aisle we walked past some little monster trucks that were shaped like dinosaurs. I know--dinosaur monster trucks make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Dinosaurs were extinct before the cavemen invented the wheel (or so they'd like us to believe), and definitely long before the redneck invented the monster truck. But, toys don't really have to make sense to a kid. I made the mistake of pointing them out to the boy. He, of course, was pretty excited. "Dinosaur monster trucks!" he exclaimed.

Dinosaur Monster Truck!!!
I didn't think much  of it at the time, but as the days and weeks passed, whenever anyone would ask him what he wanted for Christmas he would say, rather emphatically, "Dinosaur monster trucks!"

It soon became apparent that, for my three year-old, this had become his ONE THING. (I have no idea what the real ONE THING is this year for most of America. I'm too backwoods to know.) So, I returned to the Walmart to get the boy some dinosaur monster trucks. Of course, they weren't there anymore. The problem is, when I first saw them, they weren't in the main toy section--they were in the seasonal toy aisle. The products in the seasonal toy aisle get swapped out frequently. To make matters worse, the dinosaur monster trucks were not a name brand product, they were the generic Walmart brand, so that made it difficult to look them up online.

I searched the store. No dinosaur monster trucks. My wife scoured the interwebs. She couldn't find them on her mothership, Amazon. She eventually tracked them down on, but they were not something that could be ordered, and it said that none of the nearby stores had them in stock.

The hunt continued. My wife and her mother searched an out of town Walmart. No dinosaur monster trucks. Then, after getting the kids to bed, I went for a late Saturday night hunt. I tried a Walmart about 20 miles away. They had some monster trucks that were bigger, and looked a little like dragons, but they were not the ONE THING. (I bought them anyway, to have as Plan B.)

There was only one more nearby Walmart I hadn't yet searched. It was my last chance. I was desperate. I went up and down the toy aisles and found some monster trucks that looked like sharks. So close! But not the dinosaur monster trucks I was looking for. It was approaching midnight, and I was about to give up, when a kind, courteous Walmart employee sauntered into the area. She had a shopping cart full of items that she was restocking to the shelves. I grabbed the shark monster trucks and asked her--no, begged and pleaded with her--if there was any chance they had some monster trucks similar to the shark ones, but shaped like dinosaurs instead.

She looked at me and didn't say anything. She held up her finger, motioning me to wait, and walked to her shopping cart full of go-backs. She reached in and pulled out a package of dinosaur monster trucks and--with a look of uncertainty on her face--handed them to me. "Yes!!!" I shouted. I didn't hug her, although I did think about it. Instead, I just said "Thank you!" to her about 17 times.

The hunt was over! After spending many, many hours searching through four different Walmart stores, plus the time my wife spent digging through the internet, we finally had our son's ONE THING! I was so relieved.

Four days later I was back in the neighborhood Walmart where I had first seen the dinosaur monster trucks. (I needed some Pepto-Bismal, possibly because of the stress from the search.) For no other reason than out of sheer habit, I walked past the seasonal toy aisle. There, on the shelf, were a dozen more packages of dinosaur monster trucks. The ONE THING was now overstocked.

The ONE THING, many times over.

Because, of course.

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