The grandchildren were visiting one day last week when one of the boys noticed a large box with a bull’s-eye logo on it, and came running. “Target,” he shouted, “Is it for me?” Yes, I know this is a visual age, but I was still surprised. Thinking he was just too smart for his own good, I grabbed the box and slid it under a bed, out of sight.
I believe in shopping near home, but had ordered something from Target that didn’t seem available anywhere in this vicinity. When the package arrived, I noticed that it looked awfully large for what I had purchased, but I didn’t get around to opening it until Friday night, the night before Christmas Eve.
Oops! Instead of the very specific and specialized Lego set I’d paid for, the box contained two children’s cardigan sweaters, size 7-8, two T-shirts with silly branded “Star Wars” images, and two pairs of snow pants, one with a bib. UPS had dropped off the box at the right house; it was addressed to me, but it contained Christmas items bought by a stranger in Maryland.
You can imagine how long the wait was when I called Target to speak with someone who might help. Eventually, a person who was pleasant enough — considering the pressure he must have been under, some 36 hours before Santa’s arrival — told me there was no way to get the right present in time, even though I had clearly paid for it. I was able to give him the name of the woman for whom the box had been intended (her name was on the packing materials), and he told me she had called a day or two earlier and her replacements had already been sent.
As for my grandson’s longed-for Christmas present, nothing could be done; it was just too late to get something from the warehouse to UPS for delivery the next day. The customer-service person ordered a replacement anyway and said if I was lucky it would arrive the day after Christmas. (It didn’t.)
I wanted to be a good Samaritan and send the snow pants and T-shirts and the the rest of it back to Target, but I didn’t want to pay for shipping. This time, the man on the phone was unmoved. He could send me a return label only for what I had ordered, even though it hadn’t arrived. Going back and forth with him, I felt the pressure rising. He wasn’t going to send a return label and that was that. Did Target want me to throw it away, I asked indignantly? “Just give it away,” he said. Give it away? All right, then.
My grandson had told two or three different Santa Clauses that what he really, really wanted was this particular Lego set, so I was upset, but couldn’t really do anything about it until the next day, Christmas Eve, when I formed a search party.
The Wharf Shop in Sag Harbor, one of our favorite stores of all time, had all sorts of toy treasures, including a quite impressive selection of Lego sets, but not the Ghostbusters Ecto 1 and 2 set (whatever that might be!) that was my grandson’s dream.
But, guess what?
All’s well that ends well.
Stevenson’s, Southampton’s very fine toy store — it used to be Lilywhite’s — had the very thing in stock. One left. Exactly what I was looking for. Undeterred by pouring rain and wind on Saturday, I made it to Southampton, and Christmas was saved.
I gave away the Target clothes and felt like Chris Kringle himself.