Chaos and Headless Dummies

Unfortunately, Narragansett No. 7 has been a casualty of back to school chaos which included, but was not limited to, a missing school bus, hurricane Irene, a visit from grandma and our dear friends Taryn and Rob. Adding to the insanity, my second writing packet has to be completed and returned to my Stonecoast faculty mentor by September 23rd, so whatever spare time I have had in the last seven days has been devoted to reading books and writing. Ghost stories and traumatic memoir and short stories and…well, you get the idea.

How positively smart of me to take on graduate school at this stage in my life. I mean, really… life wasn’t complicated enough.

It’s been slow at No. 7. I know…

But I miss you.

I miss us.

It’s not you. It’s me.

I’ve changed and become responsible. I’m going to bed at a reasonable hour and doing my homework now. I’m scaling the mountains of laundry that accumulated while we waited for our new dryer (Dear Samsung, you suck!) and we went school shopping. Yes, I took all three children (simultaneously) to the mall where we shopped for shoes and clothes. We all survived, thanks to my quick thinking and street smarts.

No, not really. We survived because there is nothing inherently dangerous about the mall. I have also stopped worrying about the people in Baby Gap. Seven years of motherhood has desensitized me. I don’t care what anyone thinks when Kate knocks down one of those creepy decapitated Baby Gap mannequins. Let’s face it; they’re a disturbing bunch. Those cranium deprived faceless babies could be inflicting irrevocable damage upon the mental state of children all over the world! It isn’t that far-fetched, the Gap has gone global. Kazakhstan is the latest country to be infected by denim clad headless dummies. What kind of newly-hatched human wouldn’t be alarmed at the sight of an impeccably layered, plump toddler without a dome? It’s weird.

I’ve also stopped worrying what people think when I holler the names of my children at random intervals. Besides, the hollering is only a portion of my cyclical technique. It begins with my pillage of the sale racks while repeatedly looked left, right and left again. I then execute a half spin and inspect the region directly behind me to determine the exact location of each of my three children. If, somewhere in my manic cycle of pillaging and mothering, I happen to lose sight of a child, I loudly call out his or her name while shushing the others so I can assess said child’s location. To a childless woman, it might appear that I have some disorder akin to Tourette’s syndrome. I repeatedly perform this odd ritual to ensure that my children have not been stolen or climbed a “Gap Employees Only” ladder to ceiling height.

 By the way, Gap employees… my two year old can’t read that plaque on your ladder, so if you are no longer using the ladder to adjust the headless babies, please put it away. Children + Ladders x Mother without prescription meds = me deeming you a daft jackass for leaving it unattended in the first place.

If, in fact, you have negligently failed to remove the safety hazard ladder from the sales floor, it’s best for all parties involved if you refrain from reprimanding my child for climbing said ladder. Trust me. You are required to provide a safe and pleasant environment while I attempt to squander copious amounts of my husband’s salary on clothing for my children. That happens to be a portion of the money I plan to recoup if a judge should decide that Gap Inc. owes my injured child a hefty sum for her pain and suffering.

Also, if I choose to undress one of your plump headless and impeccably layered mannequins because it is wearing the last purple 5T dress, you can’t stop me. Please don’t sigh and show visible annoyance because I am disrobing your creepy display. Just give me the clothes and no one will get hurt. I’m trying to attire my children, so that dummy will just have to find a new get up.

 While I’m on the subject, might I offer some additional suggestions?

If you see a mother with three children and a pile of clothes on August 28th, it’s fair to assume they are school shopping. Maybe, I don’t know… HELP HER? Why not periodically take a spin through your store and check on the family of four who has squashed themselves into a tiny dressing room? This is the perfect opportunity to do your job. It’s not that hard, you know.

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, sales associates performed this very function. It’s true…I swear. I’ve heard legends about the ancient ones.  They were a tribe of sales people who willingly assisted parents rather than ignore them. In fact, newly discovered cave paintings crudely depict a Gap sales associate actually making eye contact with a customer while handing over a wooly mammoth poncho. Can you imagine? 

Seriously. When it reaches the point where a woman is red in the face and visibly sweating, you might step in and say, “Oh, let me help you with that.” If she is dealing with a crying toddler and 7 year old determined to study the private parts of pregnant mannequins and when she is no longer quietly lamenting that it would be nice if someone – anyone – could help, maybe it’s time to stop folding and interact.

 If, for some maddening reason you have chosen pay no heed to your customer, it is most unwise to suddenly dash behind the register and sweetly inquire, “Did you find everything you needed today?” Chances are, if I’m the person you’ve posed that question to, you’re going to get an earful and raging case of the stink-eye. I’ll probably say something to the effect of, “No. In fact I didn’t because I just spent two hours restraining my children while performing the job of a Gap sales associate.” This statement will either produce a moment of stunned silence or an indignant glare. Either way, you’ll stand on the other side of the counter and realize that yes, that woman did just say that to you.

You’ll be forced to watch her children, who now resemble a riotous troop of chimpanzees, as they hurl your freshly folded clothing on the floor. If you’re smart, you won’t say a damn word. That harried mother has surrendered and silently given her children full permission to behave like poo-flinging primates. She is allowing them ransack and annihilate Baby Gap. Why? Because you, dear sales woman, stood chatting and folding sweaters for an hour and half instead of offering your much-needed assistance. That’s why.

Of course, the preceding paragraph is entirely hypothetical.


  1. I am so glad you’re back and laughing (ruefully) about your experience at the Gap. You’re right! When did sales associates stop having to help people? My first job was in retail (in 1988) and I had to help EVERYONE. Shared this one on FB to entertain my other frazzled mom friends.

    • Tell the truth. Back in ’88 you ruled the retail world with big hair and spandex, right? I’ll fess up. I did. I recently searched Ebay for vintage boots and saw that my own era of bad style has now become vintage cool.

  2. Oh the joys of shopping with all of the children! Glad to see your post…I’ve missed you! 🙂

  3. I swear…this is why every sales person in America should be on commission. Have they never wondered how Neimans and Nordstrom manage to make happy happen? Get a clue, Gap.Inc!

  4. In order to make money or lose clothing and etc, stores have sales associates to help. But it seems that they aren’t being taught to help the public or a mother with three kids. It is a shame that this happens daily across America. Just maybe in the future when someone from a Gap store management reads this they will get the message. Help us or go under!

  5. Just reading this makes me want a glass of wine to block out all the back to school shopping hell.

  6. Oh dear Kelli. This left me shuddering, huddled in the corner reliving memories of when we owned a little gourmet chocolate kiosk in a department store and I hired a handful of 16-year-old girls. Oh. My. Gosh. Out of the five of them, only one did her job and did it well. (And I still love her dearly!)

    But the rest? Oh. My. Gosh. Let’s just say I should have changed the message on my cell phone to: “Hello, you’ve reached Hopped Up’s Complaint Department. This is Eden Hopper, owner and manager… but NOT their mom. Just FYI. NOT their mom. Please leave me a message, and remember, I can sympathize.”

    What HAPPENED to our teenagers? All of us adults used to be working teens, and I’m sure each of us can remember working our little tushies off just to make that 5 bucks an hour. We had so much pride, it was so great to be grown up and have a “real” job! So what happened? (Obviously to truly answer that would start a whole *discussion* but you know, sometimes the question is answer enough.)

    Love ya girl. So glad to catch up with you! xoxo

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