Sunday, September 2, 2007

I'm Quite Certain

A mom and daughter came up to the desk. Mom all cheerful, dispirited kid looking like she was being dragged by a leash. Chipper Mom wanted to "finish up" the Summer Reading program for the daughter. She had documentary evidence of her daughter's studiousness in the form of a piece of loose leaf paper with book titles on it. I compliment the daughter's efforts and talk about the number of books read. A short silence follows. Mom, somewhat less perky now, wants to know about getting her child's prize. Only we don't have one for her. Not only is the program over, but we gave out the prizes at the beginning. No, I am told, there is a prize for her daughter. She knows this. I ask if she had gotten the prize at the beginning. She drags a positive response from the now virtually catatonic child in the form of a nearly imperceptible nod and an eye roll. I try to explain that the prize came first and perhaps they signed up at a neighboring community which has the prize at the end, but am cut off by a dismissive wave of the hand. "I know where we signed up," I am informed. There were a few fairly meaningless gimme sort of things which I mention, things that could hardly be considered prizes. These are dismissed, too. She is getting impatient and the daughter's ability to stand upright is clearly compromised as she slumps over the counter. I think this is the moment where people ask to talk to a supervisor. I promise her that I have been here all summer and there is nothing more to be had.
Changing tack, she asks to see the form that the kids fill out. Did I say ask? I meant demanded. She slowly reads through it, saying that she is quite certain that the kid is owed something. I'm starting to think that the kid may have a pretty good tactic for dealing with the Mom who is quite possibly insane. I want to put my head on the desk, maybe do some eye rolling which is a skill I used to have and deployed to great effect as an adolescent. The close reading continues. I wish I'd had that level of focus in Liberry School--I might have finished some of those articles I was supposed to read. I consider an impromptu prize award of things on the desk. "My mistake, madame! I forgot that your daughter wins a pair of scissors, a blue highlighter and a bottle of Purell!" I mentally inventory the money in my pockets. Maybe they would leave if I give them the seven dollars I think I have.
In the end, though, she finds no evidence of a promise of prize. She knows she is wrong, but she still hates me, so she leaves with scarcely a word to me, and her daughter stumbles after her, jerked along by her invisible leash.

1 comment:

RedHotKnitter said...

There's always one in every bunch. And it only takes one in that bunch to ruin the fun for all of the others!