The Giant near our former house in Harrisburg was always stocked with free fruit in a basket for kids to take when they shopped alongside their parents. As a result, Ari got used to grabbing a banana from the basket every time we went to Giant.
Nowadays, the Giant near our New house doesn’t keep the free fruit basket stocked. A couple of weeks ago, Ari wound his little “Customer in Training” cart into the produce section and was dismayed to discover there weren’t any bananas in the basket. (There weren’t any mandarin oranges in there either, but that’s another story.)
I looked at regular banana display and noticed all of the bananas were green. I pointed this out to Ari. “Maybe they don’t have any yellow bananas, which is why the kids’ basket is empty.”
Ari is really good at being three so he didn’t care about my rationale. All Ari knew is that he was being mightily wronged by being denied access to a banana at the supermarket. In a flash, he turned his customer-in-training cart around and declared, “I’m going to customer service!” (He may have witnessed me make a couple of trips to a customer service desk in the past few years, which is how he knows of its existence.)
I hobbled behind Ari with my cane as he chugged like a train to the front of the store. There was no stopping him. He was a boy on a mission.
Ari arrived at customer service before my body could, but my ears could hear him say, “Excuse me! Excuse me! Excuse me! There are no bananas in the basket!”
Oh. My. G-d. He didn’t just do that. I mean, at least Ari used his good manners and said excuse me, but he was so loud. Despite his declaration, no one at customer service paid any attention to him because the top of his head didn’t clear the counter. (When I told my husband this story he compared Ari to Little Elliot — from Little Elliott, Big City by Mike Curato — not being noticed in the bakery.)
“Buddy, you need to say ‘excuse me’ and then wait for someone to give you their attention. And be a bit more patient, please.”
“Excuse me!” He said in a booming-toddler voice. “I want a banana!”
He got the person’s attention at customer service who looked a little shocked to see a tiny customer barking at her.
“Let’s try with better manners. Now that you have her attention, tell her what the problem is,” I said.
Ari began telling her, with lots of hand animations, how there were no bananas in the kids’ basket and all of the bananas in the store were green. I understood what he said, but he was talking so fast I don’t think she caught any of it. Therefore, I stepped in.
“Hi there,” I said, smiling and waving. “What I think my son wants to say is do you know if there are any more bananas for kids? The basket of fruit is empty and all of the bananas on the display are green. Would you be able to help him?”
She said she’d try. She left the area behind the customer service desk and asked us to follow her to the produce department. As we followed behind her, I told Ari, “I can give you a yellow banana at home if they don’t have them here.”
Ari pretended not to hear me. He pushed his customer-in-training cart back to the produce section. Once there, the customer service representative declared, “There aren’t any bananas in the kids’ basket, so…” She walked over to the banana display, found three of the least-green bananas she could find, and placed them in the kids’ fruit basket. I thanked her and then looked down. Ari had his hand in the basket, turning the bananas over in search of the most-yellow of the least-green bananas.
“Are you sure you want to eat that one?” I asked. “It’s pretty green.”
Ari began to peel the banana, took a bite, and smiled. I guess the lack of ripeness didn’t matter to him since he got what he wanted.
I didn’t write this story down when it happened. My mother begged me to record it after I recounted it to her. Therefore, this one is dedicated to you, Mom, for the encouragement to preserve a good laugh. What was the other story I was supposed to record?