Wednesday, March 26, 2008

back to the future...by judi sadowsky

on easter sunday, while many folks were either in church, in their yards hunting for brightly colored eggs or parading around town in their easter bonnets, i was at home depot in downtown l.a. with my son.

i love home depot. not that i have ever, once in my life, done anything that remotely resembled a do-it-yourself project, but i still get very excited walking into a home depot. it is so large and so jammed pack full of possibilities. i could spend hours just walking up and down the aisles imagining a brand new bathroom or a whole roomful of natural wood plantation shutters. alas, my son and i were on an errand that came no where close to any of my martha stuart like fantasies. we were there to buy four moving blankets to help pack up my daughter's art.

finding a bathtub is easy, finding moving blankets required hiking up and down many aisles before we were successful. when it came time to check out, we walked to the front of the store. there were no cashiers. "now what"? i asked my son. he pointed to an aisle with a counter and a small computer screen. "what's this"? he patiently explained that what i was looking at was a self service checkout lane. he then went on to explain that it was simple and all i had t do was read the directions. i told him he could do it, but he refused, shaking his head. "you can do it mom. the only way you will ever learn is by doing it yourself".

i was instantly thrown back thirty years. my son was seven and i had taken him to the bank to open his first savings account. i told him what he had to do and what he had to say to the teller. i told him i would be right there, watching him but that he had to do it himself. "the only way you will ever learn is by doing it yourself". i remember the look on his face. it must have been the very same look i now had on mine.

o.k. i thought, i can do this. i looked over at the next aisle at a little girl, in a pink easter dress, calmly scanning a twenty pound bag of fertilizer. i took a deep breath and dug into my purse for my reading classes. the line behind me was growing longer. first i had to scan the blankets. o.k. i did that. then the screen lit up. "cash or credit" it demanded. i looked at my son - he shrugged. alright, i pressed "credit". then back into my purse for my credit card. there was grumbling from the line. usually, when you have a live cashier, the line's hostility is directed at them. now all the pressure was on me. i managed to stick the credit card in the right slot and sign the screen. i started to walk away when the machine let out a loud screech. i turned to see my son laughing. unfortunately, no one on the now fifteen person line, was laughing. i had forgotten to remove my receipt from the machine. by this time i was sweating. but my ordeal was not yet over. i still had to bag my purchases.

by the time we left home depot i was exhausted. it is true that i had learned a new skill but one
that i hoped i would never have to use again. my son tried to console me. "mom, get used to it, this is the future". "the future"? i thought it was the past. i remember when i was a little girl, my mother always got me to do my homework by telling me that if i didn't study hard, i would end up like our neighbor's daughter annette, who was a checkout girl at our local market. my mother would ask "do you want to be bagging other people's grocery's for the rest of your life"? who knew, with all my education that that is exactly what has come to pass. and they call this the future?

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