published Thursday, December 19th, 2013

City Beat: A tale of two shopping experiences

I would rather take a beating than shop. So when I found myself last Saturday at a large discount retailer, I was both surprised and kind of proud of myself for the calm, ninja warrior-like attitude I carried. I was prepared for anything. Except what happened.

When he was very little, I used to praise my firstborn for being a good shopping companion. I would constantly thank him for being good, and I convinced myself it was my good parenting that made him so well behaved. Then my daughter came along, and we never visited another toy store until she was 10. I exaggerate, but not much.

Anyway, I heard a mother thank her young son on Saturday, and it hit me like a brick to the back of the head. She didn’t yell at him, whack his head or threaten his grandchildren, which is what I usually observe.

A short while later, I was near the checkout line, where I found two inexpensive but cool gifts and picked them up. There was almost no line, so I was in no hurry. I hesitated a second, and the same woman and (I assumed) her sister, each with a buggy full of stuff and about seven toddlers, stepped up. My mistake, I thought. Then another lady with a full buggy moved in front of me. Double mistake, but, still, my fault. I went to the back of the line, and the lady ahead of me turned around and said, “You were in front of me. Please go ahead.”

Still preparing for the worst, it took me a minute to realize the two ladies in front were having a ball laughing at their kids, who were being as sweet as they could be and doing everything asked of them, including putting toys back. The youngest, about 20 months, had a Virginia Tech helmet on and was running plays in the aisle. It was about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, and the mom and I started laughing.

A line about 20 deep formed behind me, so a manager called for cashiers. Again, I was thinking too bad for me because the lady in front needed a price check on the helmet, and the folks behind me were cuing up for the new cashiers. Then the lady behind me said, “He was next,” and they moved me to the front of the first new line.

Meanwhile, my wife apparently was at a bigger discount store at the same time and was approached by a young man who offered to sell her, for cash, at a reduced price, he said, a gift card that he couldn’t return. She did what anyone who knows her would expect and loudly threatened to punch him in the throat if he didn’t move along.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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