Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Overnight Shipping or Urine Soaked?

I'm sad to report that Target has wronged me. I'm easily in Target on a weekly basis and I truly do heart Target. They do a brilliant job of knocking-off higher end clothing and design stores, while keeping the cost down. I'm always able to find exactly what I'm looking for and many, many others things that I'm not. And if I'm not able to locate the exact size or color of an item in a store, their website has never let me down. Target is my perfect store. Or, it was.

I'm going to a baby-shower on Friday and the mom-to-be is registered at a handful of places, Target included. It was a no-brainer. During the last snow storm, I decided I would save myself some hassle and just order her gift online. The gift arrived as scheduled yesterday and it seemed it was another perfect Target experience for me. It was perfect until I opened the outer packing box and was kicked in the teeth by one of the worst smells ever. It took me a few seconds, but I soon realized that this smell was the same one as the subway and rail stairwells - piss. I immediately dropped the box.

Within minutes I was on the phone with a Target online customer service agent. Surely, they would want to know about this. I mean, at this point, I felt like someone had wronged me and "my Target". I relayed my story to the agent and she didn't even waiver from her script, "I'm so sorry that you had this experience. We will be happy to reimburse you for your shipping and you are able to return the item to any Target store for a full refund". What? Didn't she hear me? I just said that I got an item shipped to me soaked in urine, and she is happy to have me just return it to any store? That would require me to actually touch this box again. After re-iterating the pee detail a few more times, she still didn't sound surprised, but did attach a $5 voucher to my account. Gee, thanks.

So, today I trucked the box of piss over to the Target store to return it. My husband thought I was crazy, "Why would anyone want you to return that? No one wants to have to handle that". But I was determined that Target needed to know that this occurred somewhere in their packing and shipping process. I was certain that an actual live person would have a reaction closer to mine and maybe let someone important in the Target company know. I placed the clean outer packing box on the returns counter and quickly warned the girl that I received the item inside with what appears to be urine on it. She didn't blink; she didn't even look at me. It was as if this was not the first time she's seen this. She opened the box, despite my warnings, "I don't know if you want to touch that". She said so matter-of-factly, "I need to touch it to scan it". And that was it, a second later she was handing me my refund receipt. I was so confused, I couldn't even bother any longer. Did I miss something? Is this normal to expect that sometimes you will just receive a package that has been pissed on? I must have missed something somewhere when I was checking out online. Was there a check-box under shipping preferences that asked if I wanted overnight shipping or soaked in urine?

I can't say that I will stop shopping at Target. I actually shopped after I returned the item. But I will say this has opened my eyes to a very strange, but apparently common phenomenon. I won't ever open a packing box the same way again.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Going Topless

We just spent a week at a French beach resort and although it was great to be immersed in the French language, culture, and food; we were also surrounded by their custom of going topless on the beach. We've been to this resort before, so it wasn't entirely unexpected, but I have to say that the first day on the beach still took some getting used to. I read somewhere that going topless is falling out of fashion on French beaches, but this was not the case here. Women of all ages were sunbathing, conversing with whole groups of people, and playing on the sand and in the water with their small children - all sans tops. It was a very family friendly G-rated, albeit, topless scene. So regardless of the current trend, why were/are the French so much more carefree about their bodies?

In general, on the beach the French seem to cover very little compared to Americans. But from my observations, its not because they all have perfect bodies - they don't. So, why did I feel like I should be covering up my imperfections, even with a top on? It became very clear to me that Americans obsess way too much over appearances. Its really no wonder that we have body image issues. Is it possible that other countries just don't care? It was interesting that the only person I saw wearing a skirted tankini, was a prudish American. She might as well have been wearing a dress because she looked fully clothed next to all of the monokinis on the beach. Interestingly, the term "monokini" in France means just the bottoms, not that strange looking attached bikini suit they sell in America where you can wear a "bikini" without showing your stomach. In America, by trying to cover up our imperfections instead of just baring them, are we insinuating that there is something wrong with less than perfect bodies? This isn't the best message to be sending to our children.

I also noticed that absolutely no one seemed to take notice of the boobs all over the beach; except for my American husband. I'm sure other men noticed, they are men after all, but there was no gawking. Can you image the Guido crazed frenzy that would occur if the Jersey Shore decided to go topless? But really what's the big deal? Men are topless on the beach, why can't women be? And would my husband really have noticed if he grew up in a place where it was normal for women to bare it all rather than hide everything? I don't know, but I liked how by baring it all, the French seemed to strip away that superficial layer of appearances. Boobs just became boobs, all sizes and shapes, not some mysterious thing for boys to be obsessed with getting a glimpse of.

I won't deny that by the end of the week, I was feeling pretty confident and comfortable with the idea, the idea mind you, of removing my top on the beach. However, on our last day there, I was putting sunscreen on in my bedroom of our suite and hadn't yet put my bikini top on. My 3 year old came barging in to ask me a question. He took one look at me and ran, without question, to the other room to immediately tell his older brother, "Mom doesn't have her 'boob covers' on today!" Feeling gone. You can take American kids to a French resort, but they're still American.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valium-times Day

Today is Valentine's Day and I'm spending it with my three favorite people; my two boys and my husband. However, I feel like we've spent a little too much time together this past week. After being away on vacation together for 9 days, we came home to the biggest snowstorm in local history and have been snowed in together for another week. We've had just a little too much "together time". The novelty of the snow has worn off and my children don't even want to go out and play in it anymore. Inside they have exhausted every video, computer, and board game; and we have watched all appropriate movies On-Demand.

Both boys made me cards this morning and my 6 year old wrote out each card to say, "Happy Valientimes Day". I thought it was funny when I read it out loud because my first thought was "Valium" - that's what I need right now. My kids haven't been to school in two weeks and the weather people are now predicting another snowstorm. I'm not sure we can make it through another week snowed in at home. I might need a Valium time day.