Property Damage and a Valentine

It started out so simply and went downhill so fast.  It was to be a simple trip to Publix to grab a few items after having picked the kids up from school.

Micah was buzzing about all the cards he had received at his class party and was proudly carrying one of them around.

As we entered the store, Kylie had to get on the scale to find out how much she weighed.  Micah began playing with his card by slowly slipping it between the wall and a thin metal sheeting that had been added during the re-design some months before.  Slowly slipping it in and sliding it out.  Over.  And over.

Until, in a sudden moment of clarity that came about a nanosecond too late, he turned to look Stacy and me in the eye. His lips began to quiver as he explained that his card was gone.  GONE.  As in vanished into the netherworld that is the space between the wall and the thin metal sheeting that had been epoxied and double-sided taped and screwed into the wall.  As in GONE.

Then he gave me that look that one only gets when they need you to figure out how to make their world right. Regardless of whether or not you actually can do anything about it.

I sent the family away to continue shopping and so I could have some space to mutter under my breath out of earshot.

I first attempted to pull the metal back to see if I could locate the card to no avail.

Next, I attempted to slide something into the space in hopes of fishing it out.  Again to no avail.

I proceeded to do this, in various combinations, for about 15 minutes.  All the while, other shoppers were entering or exiting the store looking at me as if I had gone mad.  

Finally, I realized it was time for a dramatic course of action.  I had to ask for help.

I went to the Customer Service Desk and patiently waited my turn in line.  When it was finally my turn, I had to explain that I did not want a rain check or a lotto ticket or a pack of Marlboros.  I needed help in extracting an item of great sentimental value.

As the kind ladies listened to me, I slowly began to doubt they would be so inclined as to help.  This kind of thing normally falls in the “Tough Noogies” department.

I tried to explain all the various methods and attempts I had carried out as we walked to the scene of the “incident”.  Not to be undone, they proceeded to try and retrieve the card in the same manner.  With the same results.

Finally, we all knew what had to be done.  I just didn’t want to be the one to suggest it.  

There was a barely visible seam in the thin metal strip.  We had to pull it off the wall.

In a flash, Leslie, the customer service manager, went back to the office and came back with a handful of tools.  And Dallas, another customer service person, was in tow.

I watched in disbelief as these two ladies began to wedge and pull and pop the stripping from the wall.  

And they kept going.  And going.  And going.  Until.

Nothing.  There was no card there.  Immediately, I began to question.  Did I really know that Micah had dropped the card?  Did he simply put it in his pocket and forget it?  Did he drop it somewhere else?  Did he leave it in the car?

By now they had detached about 3 feet of stripping from the wall.  As I began to fumble for the words to express my gratitude/apology, they gave the stripping one last pull.  

That’s when the tiny piece of corner became visible.  Modern physics would struggle to explain how the card found its final resting space.  I’m sure it involves wormholes and universal constants.

After receiving the retrieved card, I bounded through the store to find my family and set my son’s world right again.  I found them and displayed the card victoriously.  

And what was the response?  

“Thanks, Daddy.  Oh, come here.  I want to show you something that I want.”

Yep, the universe was perfect once again.


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