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.

11 Responses to “Lost”

  1. Seaums Says:

    That is sad. You should have snagged those pretzels.

  2. Finn Says:

    Well I didn’t even see it and I’m crying right along with you. Crazy loves company. *sniff*

  3. Dave2 Says:

    I love pretzels!

    And I agree it’s a sad story. It gets even sadder when I think of the possible consequences of helping out…

  4. churlita Says:

    Awwww. That was very sweet.

  5. claire Says:

    Poor Sam. Glad that Father of Sam shared his sense of urgency though & that they were reunited.

    I think cell phones have actually gone a long way to making people look generally less crazy. Most people will probably assume you’re on the phone nowadays rather than just talking to yourself. Not that that would make you crazy anyway. Nor would the crying, at least from my POV.

  6. Don Says:

    Sweet. Made me go all softie inside. It was a precious time when my little boys needed me, and it didn’t last very long. I miss being able to just pick them up to make everything all better.

    And yes, it is tragically true that if a non-employee tried to help directly they’d be at risk for all sorts of undeserved trouble.

    I’m starting to realize that I don’t have to stop talking anymore just because someone is next to me in traffic and might see. They might think I’m on the phone!

    I have hopes to make T’con this year, but do I have to have an active blog? I overfed mine and had to fish it out of the tank and flush it.

  7. brandon Says:

    i’m pretty sure that every place i have gone with you, vahid, dave, etc., i have gotten separated from you all at least once and had to explain to some stranger that, ‘NO, I’M NOT CRYING, DOO DOO HEAD, I AM JUST THINKING OF A SAD STORY.’

    and don, if you come to tcon, i will buy you a shot. i don’t have a blog, either, and i’m still invited.

  8. jenny Says:

    seamus: well, they were pretty smashed up. otherwise…

    finn: yay for the crazies!

    dave: yeah, i think the risk is probably greater for men. although i suppose there are plenty of stories of wacko women who snatch kids, too. yeesh, what a world we live in…

    churlita: it was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once. an emotional roller coaster at best buy!

    claire: you might be on to something. all this time, i could’ve just worn a bluetooth while talking to myself, and seemed less crazy!

    don: now, your boys still frantically search for you in best buy, but it’s only for your credit card, right? and there’s no active blog requirement for tcon – you must come this year!

    brandon: it’s really true, isn’t it? for vancouver, i’m going to buy you a harness so we don’t get separated in a strange land. and i want you to wear your passport around your neck.

  9. martymankins Says:

    This may be the first blog post of someone that Dave2 knows where his distaste for bluetooth headsets was given a pass. I use a bluetooth headset mostly when I need both hands on the keyboard and I’m doing some sort of tech support.

  10. Dave2 Says:

    Hey, even I use one when driving… because IT’S THE LAW! It’s when people wear these things out in public as a fashion accessory that I go a little crazy…

  11. shari Says:

    It’s much more dangerous to drive while crying than talking on a cell phone isn’t it? And if you hadn’t gone in to buy that bluetooth, you wouldn’t have been crying. IT’S A CONSPIRACY!

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