*Disclaimer: I have lots of friends (Really! I'm freakishly popular!) who do not agree with every single one of the thoughts that come out of my noggin. Even my own husband sometimes has the nerve to disagree with me. But we can still be friends, mkay? Warning to gentle readers: Shocking (rated G) language ahead!
After I printed out the return policy from Walmart's official website, I took it and the pajamas straight to the return desk the next time I went to the store.
As luck would have it, I ended up with the very same sales associate who told me that I wasn't allowed to get a gift card the first time. I cheerfully showed her the return policy and asked her if I might please speak to a manager about the return. She immediately obliged and a manager was there in no time.
He was a kind-looking grandfatherly type with an easy smile.
I explained to him about the pajamas having been purchased at the same store a week earlier and how I did not need anything from the little girls' department at the moment, and I showed him the printed return policy.
He told me that he could tell I was an honest person, but this time of year there were a lot of people exchanging items they received from charities for merchandise the charity did not intend. He said they were making exceptions to the holiday policy of no gift cards on a case by case basis, and he thought that it was okay for me to have a gift card.
He was so amiable about it that it was hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that Walmart is making judgments, presumably on the way people look, as to whether or not they are deserving of receiving a gift card for a returned item.
He stood smiling at me and I stood blinking, speechless at him.
Finally, I asked, "Do you mean that people bring back items donated to their children and get beer and cigarettes instead?"
"Yes. Sadly, that's right."
"Look," I said, "I don't drink beer or smoke cigarettes..."
He patted my hand gently and said with a wink, "I know that. It's okay, honey. We're on the same page." He then told the associate to give me the gift card and wished me a Merry Christmas.
I returned the wish, but what he didn't know was that we weren't on the same page at all.
You see, I know first hand about people returning their children's gifts for different items.
When I taught second grade Bible class there was a sweet little girl who came regularly. She wore dirty, tattered clothes, and shoes that were too big with no socks.
When she mentioned to me that her birthday was the following week, I knew just what I wanted to do. I went to Walmart and bought her 2 new dresses, a package of panties, socks, tights, and some sparkly shoes in her size.
She was ecstatic when I gave everything to her the next Sunday! But the next time I saw her she was still wearing her worn, dirty clothes. When I asked her about her new clothes, she told me that her Daddy had returned them to Walmart because they needed other things.
I was very sad for her. I had long suspected that her father made many selfish, unwise decisions on her behalf. Knowing that my suspicions were correct made me determine that the next time I gave her a gift, I would make sure to remove all tags and personalize it by monogramming her initials.
What I did NOT determine was that there oughta be a law restricting him from doing selfish and unwise acts.
One of the concepts I have taught my 16 year old, newly driving daughter is to be aware that at any time there may be idiots and jerks around the next corner. Sure there are traffic laws designed to keep us all safe, but idiots and jerks don't care about the laws.
For instance, if you come to a 4 way stop ahead of another car, don't assume they will yield the right of way to you. Remember, they could be an idiot or a jerk and decide not to stop at all.
And guess what? Idiots and jerks can also be parents. And no amount of legislation will restrict them from being idiots and jerks.
I agree that it is cruel to a child to exchange a gift of pajamas for a 6 pack of beer. But I DISAGREE that there ought to be restrictions on what the rest of us can do because of what a few jerks might do.
A few people pointed out in the comments of part one of this story that any parent determined to exchange gifts can take them to a pawn shop, or sell them on Ebay or Craigslist. There are many ways for an idiot to be selfish and serve his own desires over his child's.
I am not mad at Walmart. I am not mad at the lady at the returns desk. I am not mad at the manager who instituted the "holiday exchange policy".
I AM deeply concerned when I hear over and over that there oughta be a law...
I read where people say, "THOSE people ought to not be allowed to have children." "THOSE people ought to not be allowed to have so many children." "THOSE people ought not to be allowed to homeschool." (with fingers pointing far off in the distance)
I hear people saying there oughta be laws restricting homeschooling, size of families, numbers of children sharing a bedroom, and more. We already see that a rogue judge has ruled that American citizens do not have a "fundamental right to produce or consume foods of their choice." Ummmm... does this pattern concern anyone else???
What's next? Outlawing beer and cigarettes altogether? Better include soda, Cheese Whiz, Happy Meals, and white bread in that list too, since they have no nutritional value and some idiot might feed them to their children day after day.
You might say that I'm a libertarian, but I'm worse than that. I'm a cynical libertarian. I believe that our individual liberties are slowly being stripped away because of over legislation.
Really, the bottom line is I am not too stupid to decide what is best for me. I don't need a committee or a judge to decide for me. I would like that LIBERTY to remain mine.
I believe that if YOU think it is a bad idea to exchange pajamas for beer, or have 19 children, or homeschool them all, by all means DON'T DO IT. That is your liberty.
But don't make restrictions on what I should do based on what you think is best.