The Value of Rest: A Note to Target, WalMart and KMart Shoppers


I’ve started this post a dozen times and deleted hundreds of characters. I wanted to explain to you the import of rest. I wanted to tell you that shopping after your Thanksgiving meal is obscene. I was going to remind you that you weren’t really saving money buying sale tchotchkes that you wouldn’t otherwise have purchased. I was going to remind you how utterly depressing it would be to look at a checker at WalMart, KMart or Target and know that they just don’t get a normal holiday because you showed up.

I was going to ask you to stay home after your Thanksgiving dinner.

Then I realized that if you’re looking to bail on your family and friends that Thursday night we are likely at an impasse before we begin. It’s inconceivable to me that anyone would want to cut the evening short and you likely wouldn’t trust my opinion anyhow.

What I would hope we all keep in mind is the need for rest. Every religion has a sabbath and every physician has prescribed rest for ailments ranging from colds to cancer. Athletes know that rest days increase both strength and endurance. When our children are little we work hard to maintain their sleep and nap schedules, when they outgrow naps there is often scheduled downtime in the afternoons. Then we send them to school and tell them they’ll rest when they retire.

Obesity is linked to bad sleep habits.

We emphasize hard work and reward it with praise and money. When the Greek economy collapsed and we heard about their work hours and early retirements we rolled our eyes and said, “of course”. When executives come here from England and Australia they are horrified by the lack of vacation days and the fact that they may sit at their desks in the evenings. We do things differently here in America.

When my husband proposed in London he presented me with a ring that was a little loose. I needed to have it sized or at a minimum to buy a ring guard. On the evening of December 23rd that was impossible and it had to wait until the 26th and even then not everything was open. During the Olympic games shopkeepers in London were allowed to stay open longer hours on Sundays (they have laws about those things) and someone mentioned to me that they hadn’t actually made more money, just worked more hours. I suspect that is true but cannot confirm.

Sometimes when you’re weird you’re cutting edge. Sometimes when you’re weird you’ve just got problems.

I used to be really good about taking a digital sabbath. I used to be the mom that would power down her phone when she was with her kids because if the kids are with you there can’t be an emergency, right? Recently I’ve slipped into answering emails in the early evenings because my iphone makes it so easy.

You see we’re all guilty of not prioritizing and the businesses aren’t making us behave the way we do. They’re just reacting to our behavior. One of Target’s employees has started a petition, knowing full well she’ll likely be fired for it, asking them to take the high road and save Thanksgiving. I’d never want to legislate the hours that stores can be open, but I’m game for a bit of shame.

Surrounded by Fools


This weekend was long. We had drives to Costa Mesa and back both days. Saturday I put 130 miles on my car. Mr G and I did a little divide and conquer, but by mid morning Sunday we were just plain beat. When I say “we” I was referring to Mr G and I. The kids still had energy for things like bike riding, hockey and eating me out of house and home.

Then, of course I’m following Justin on Flickr and he somehow leads me to a bunch of images of Mille Bornes and I looked at it and thought, “I can’t raise children without Mille Bornes.” Clearly it’s too late for me to feel like a success with Jane, but Alexander is still just nine, he won’t know that I’m late to the game. So I pick up the telephone and start calling local toy stores. Well, I call the toy store. To be perfectly fair, it’s not really a toy store so much as it is a comic book shop with a few toys here and there. They don’t have Mille Bornes, they don’t ask how to spell it, I assume they know their inventory well.

Mille Bornes French Card Game

I call Target and there is a lot of confusion about how to spell and how to pronounce it. While on hold with Target I check and find that they don’t carry the item. I hang up.

Now I’m scouring the internet for Mille Bornes and I see that Toys R Us is my last best hope. I call the one closest to my house (which is not particularly close) and we have the following conversation:

ME: Hi, I’m calling to see if you have a toy in stock. It’s called Mille Bornes. [pronounced Mil Born]

HIM: Um sure, let me check. [some typing happens there is dead air, a little more typing, a prolonged period of silence and then…] um, do you know how you spell that?

ME: M-I-L-L-E new word B-O-R-N-E-S

HIM:  The system says that we have six of them.

ME: Oh great, can you do me a favor and put one of them on hold for me and I’ll be there in half an hour?

HIM: There’s six of ’em, we’re not going to run out.

ME: Right, but I want to be absoultely certain that you have it. I don’t want to drive all the way there and not be able to pick it up.

HIM: Do you have internet access?

ME: Yeah.

HIM: If you just order it online for an in store pickup we’ll have it waiting for you. All you have to do is show your ID and like flash the email or print up a reciept or something.

ME: Okay, but it looks like that takes two hours.

HIM: It never takes two hours. It’s always ready.

ME: And you’re certain you have it in stock?

HIM: Yes.

ME: I’d really like you to have it in your hands.

HIM: There’s plenty of them.

Then I did the unthinkable. Based on the recommendation of a guy who answers the phone at a big box store on a Sunday afternoon I hopped in the car to come pick up Mille Bornes. When I walked to the customer service counter I could hear the conversation on the walkie talkie system, “I’m looking for Millie Born-nes and the system says there are six of them…”

I tried to keep my smile, but when the manager turned to help me I said, “I think I’m here to pick up something you don’t have.” He looked confused so I told him that I’d ordered Mille Bornes online at the behest of his employee on the telephone. I explained that I’d asked him to get it in his hands.

The manager looked pissed. A pissed manager is not what I was looking for. A seven dollar card game is what I was looking for.

The manager and I left his corner to go have a look for the game. As a duo from the sales floor read the product titles to themselves in a whisper I scanned the aisle, found an empty slot, looked at the tag and saw that Mille Bornes did indeed go there, and it was in fact sold out. I showed the manager. He called the other two over to the area to look and see if it was hanging behind any of the other card games. Once again the whispering began: Bingo, Old Maid, Skip-Bo they said the name of every item out loud. In the interim I’d scanned the products and could see plainly that there were no packets of Mille Bornes hanging behind Skip Bo or Uno.

I told the manager that I didn’t have any more time, he said that they were looking. I explained to him that I’d already looked, nothing was there. The manager was really irritated and explained to me that he would be writing up the employee who I’d spoken to on the phone. Then I felt badly for him even though he was clearly not very good at his job.

The other two are probably mouthing the words Yahtzee and Monopoly as we speak.

Photo courtesy of lochnessjess via creative commons