I can’t believe I almost let the month slip by without sharing this amazing scene from the 1960 Girl Scout calendar. I wasn’t even planning on earning my first aid badge, but now that I see how useful it can be, I’m reconsidering. If only I could get the cats to come out from under the bed…
This weekend, I decided to abandon my life of crime. After sporadically breaking the law over the past year or so, I finally decided to go to Best Buy to pick up a new earpiece for my cell phone. I rarely talk on the phone in my car, but when I do, I’d prefer not to kill anyone so I decided it was time to comply with the hands-free law in Chicago.
I asked the salesperson standing next to me where I could find headsets for an iPhone, and she said, “You mean a Bluetooth?”
And I said, “No, I just want a regular earpiece thing, like the kind with the wire that plugs into your phone. And the other part that goes into your ear, you know, so I can talk in the car. Hands-free.”
“So you want to listen to music on it?”
“No, I just want to be able to take a call while I’m driving without running over pedestrians.”
She looked confused and brought me over to another salesperson in the cell phone section.
I told him what I wanted and he said, “Oh, so you want a Bluetooth.”
Apparently, asking for a non-Bluetooth earpiece is like asking for an analog TV or a rotary dial telephone. They don’t seem to make them anymore, or at least no one wants to go out of their way to sell you one.
I desperately did not want to get a Bluetooth, because I am afraid of becoming that person. That person who wears her glowing device everywhere she goes, pressing her ear to pick up calls as she walks down the street, talking to the air as she rides the train, making everyone think she’s completely insane.
While I was browsing through the myriad Bluetooth options, I heard crying coming from behind me. I turned around and saw a little boy standing in the middle of the cell phone section, sobbing. At first I thought maybe he had fallen and hurt himself, but then I heard him say, in between choked sobs, “Where’s… my… dad?”
He looked to be about five years old, had messy brown hair and was wearing a bright blue puffy down coat. He was clearly terrified. In his right hand he held a small red rubber ball and in his left hand, a Ziploc bag of pretzels. He walked tentatively, with his arms bent up at his sides like he was venturing into cold water at the beach.
Several blue polo-shirted Best Buy employees looked at each other for a moment, trying to decide what to do, when two of them knelt down. They were trying to talk to the boy, but he wouldn’t look at them. His eyes were too busy frantically searching the crowd, scanning every pair of legs to find the ones that belonged to his dad.
He just kept crying softly, “Where’s my dad? Where did my dad go?”
The tears weren’t streaming down his face in grubby smears. They were falling out of his eyes in perfect droplets and landing on the floor.
The pony-tailed salesman brought the boy up to the front of the store where the manager made an awkward announcement, “Uh, attention in the store. Will the… will the uh, father of Sam… uh, come to the front of the store? Father of Sam, come to the front of the store.”
Moments later, a panicked Father of Sam came running up to the front of the store and scooped up his son. Sam’s bag of pretzels dropped to the ground as he wrapped his arms tightly around his father’s neck. The rubber ball bounced a few times and then rolled along the floor, eventually coming to rest against a bin of bargain DVDs.
I smiled, and went back to Bluetooth shopping. I tried to find the most discreet model I could: a tiny, black rectangle with no pulsating lights or microphone sticking out of it like that of a drive-thru employee at some sort of futuristic Burger King.
As I walked through the parking lot to my car, my mind kept going back to the image of Sam’s white-knuckled fist clenched firmly around that Ziploc bag of broken pretzel sticks, holding tightly to anything familiar. I heard myself say aloud, “That was so sad,” and then realized I was crying.
I shook my head, smiling, as I wiped my eyes and stepped into my car. I no longer worry that the Bluetooth will be the reason people think I am insane.