Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Tale of Two Notebooks

Normally on Mondays I stay at home and clean. However, yesterday was a run-around day. David's prescription needed to be refilled and while I was out I got some of the supplies on our list for vacation.

Also last year, since we didn't know which school David would attend until the Friday before school started, we had trouble getting many of his school supplies. Not so this year. I got his school list several weeks ago and the school supply sale ads began to appear this week. So I took my list and purchased not one, but two of everything David would need on the list. Now, I know this sounds like overkill but trust me it isn't.

Our saga began the weekend before school started last year. Half the supplies were nowhere to be found. The supplies that I could find were not on sale (go figure)! After driving all over town and finally coming up with some items that would "just have to make due" until the stores got new shipments in, we were ready on Monday morning.

Of course you know the game, the students get to school and there is a whole other list that must be purchased on top of what was already bought. At the end of three weeks David had lost his large notebook binder—with all the dividers, paper, pencils and calculator in it. By this time he had also broken the zipper on his backpack. So a whole new trip to purchase supplies, less then a month after school started.

Over $250.00 worth of school supplies between both sets. I really got upset when one of David's one-on-one's a few weeks later suggested a different type of binder for him that might work better. I firmly stated he had his supplies and that would be the last that we would be purchasing for some time.

They were already aware of the outlay in funds that we had already flowed from my purse. So I came up with an alternative. I took supplies to each class and left them there for him. He would not be able to lose or doodle them away between classes. The teacher could also let us know when he was running low.

We also had to buy many extra boxes of tissues. Each teacher had a box on their supply list. So David went with six boxes ready to give to each teacher. But the plan went awry when he gave all six to the first teacher. I then tried to explain that they were to go to all his classes, I was not donating enough tissues for the entire class. David had tried for a week and the tissues were never returned to him and he wasn't comfortable demanding them back from a teacher.

I eventually had to go in myself to collect the extra boxes and take them to the correct teachers myself. The final count on notebook binders was three for the school year and three backpacks. David did become more responsible with his supplies as the school year progressed. I think he was so concerned about the new atmosphere and what was expected that the supplies were the least of his worries.

So this year I purchased two backpacks (a great buy-one-get-one-free deal). Two calculators—one for home and one for school. Lots of extra spiral notebooks, notebook paper and pens.

I thought I found a great deal on the binders at $5.99. There were a whole row of binders that had the label $5.99 under them. But when I got up front the cashier rang them up as $15.99, a big difference. So I explained they were marked $5.99 in the back. She called a worker in that department who agreed they were put out in the wrong place, but they would cost $15.99 if I wished to purchase them.

Since the likelihood is that David will lose one within days of beginning school I really didn't want to spend that much. And even though the employees had placed the items in the wrong place I wasn't going to make a fuss. After all, we all make mistakes. But, I still needed a binder so I paid for my other purchases and made my way to the back corner on the opposite side of the store again to find a binder.

Can you imagine my surprise when I got back there and found that the sign had not been removed and the binders where still listed at $5.99. The employee who had agreed that the binders were misplaced had left them in the wrong spot. So I grabbed one of the binders and went back up front, but the closer I got to the register the more upset I got. How many people are picking up this great buy and not noticing that the price was not what was expected. Or figuring: "I'm not going all the way back for that one item."

So I went to the same cashier and asked to speak to a manager, after explaining to the manager the problem he gladly offered the $15.99 binders at the $5.99 price. He also got on the walkie-talkie to get the problem corrected in the back. Mistakes are understandable, but leaving the mistake after knowing that the mistake exists and customers are being mislead is another thing.

So this year I got two sets of school supplies for about $100. instead of the $250. I paid last year, so I am one happy camper. When I got home I promptly got David's backpack ready and labeled for the start of school.

Today is the last day of summer school, so David is a very happy boy. On to the eighth grade.


Mrs.RGS said...

Kim, I always thought Southern women were so quiet, meek and mild. You are so willing to stir up the pot (as you should). ;)
I offered to purchase the school supplies for our new step-grandson last year and the school was so long in getting the list out to the parents that, like you, I found empty shelves and no sales. I chased around to 5 stores before I found the pencil box in the dimensions described on the supply list. Our other grandkids are homeschooled -- much easier.

Kim said...

How could you have thought we were meek and mild? Have you forgotten Scarlett O'Hara and even Melanie Wilkes from Gone with the Wind? When push came to shove even Melanie was willing to shoot the Yankee intruder in her home. This happens to be one of my favorite movies.
My great grandmother married and buried three husbands and then lived many years after the last ones death. She was called "Big Mom" and when she told you to do something you better hop to it and fast.
When I see the Virginia Founding Mothers I see much strength of character and will. Robert E Lee's wife taught her slaves to read and write at a time when this was not done.
I try the gentle approach until I feel like I'm being pushed around for being weak, then look out. I have learned that if I don't fight for what I believe in my family will suffer- poorer medical care, lower standards in school. When I was in high school I was very meek and quiet, but life has forced me out of that box.

I bet the pencil box for your steo-grandson didn't even have to be the size stated. I think they enjoy running us ragged looking for the needle in the haystack. But this year I'm ready!

Mrs.RGS said...

Kim, thanks to you I immediately emailed my daughter-in-law and asked if there was a web site that would have the school supply list. She sent the list to me within the 30 minutes and I went to Target this evening. No crowds, all the shelves and bins were full, I found everything on the list and including tax the bill was just under $70 -- he's in the 5th grade.
"Steel Magnolias" -- another movie showing soft-spoken Southern women who can handle the worse of circumstances with grace and strength.

Mrs.RGS said...

Oh, and you are right -- after I chased around looking for a pencil box last year that matched the measurements on the list I was told that any pencil box would have been okay. grrrrr
Thanks to you, I've fulfilled my Nana commitment early this year.

Kim said...

I'm glad to hear that I could save you time and money! Who doesn't need that now a days. I imagine like me you found a great selection of colors and style to choose from in notebooks and backpacks.
It doesn't surprise me on the pencil box. I have found this often is the case. Last year while looking for the supplies I saw a mom whose first child was heading off for kindergarten digging for just the right items. I explained to her not to freak out about the exact sizes and explained she would be right back here Monday night anyway, since the teachers would have a whole other list from the school issued one. She looked at me and said "but is what the school told me whe would need." I explained that for the last seven years I had never had a list that had everything needed and some items that wouldn't be used. Another mother in the aisle started to laugh and stated she had experienced the same thing with her two kids for the last five years. I remember when I had been that mom of David heading to school for the first time. I measured and counted everything to make sure he had everything needed.

One of my friends at church, Peg, is a real southern lady. She has been an inspiration to me. She has experience two bouts of breast cancer, the death of her 16 year old son, her only remaining child in a very dangerous job and she is now caring for her mother with dementia and she's diabetic. Her faith and strength have gotten her through these devestating ordeals with courage and grace.