Pretend City or Pretend we are a Non-Profit
Towards the end of summer, after running out of things to do with my kids, i decided to check out this new place called “Pretend City”. For some reason, i expected it to be like the “Wanna Do City” in Florida. It is a gigantic indoor facility where kids literally get to pretend for a day to be anyone they want to, from firemen to nurses, to whatever else they want. They run around from one activity to another, dressing up and learning about the different trades. It was a wonderful place to visit and worth every penny!
Now, this “Pretend City” that we decided to go to is a whole different ball game. I knew they are a non-profit educational place, so i assumed it would be fairly reasonable price. $4, $5 bucks per kid… Wrong. When we got there, I was told that not only do i have to pay $11 per kid, no matter what age they are, but i had to pay the same amount for me to get in also! What? You are telling me that i have to sit here, along with other parents on these benches, and watch my kids play? Not only watch them play, but have to PAY to watch my own kids play?
I would have no problem with that if there was something that I could be involved in, if there were activities that the parents and the kids did together. This place was smaller than my back yard, and I have a pretty small yard according to CA standards, and compared to the rest of the nation…
I kid you not when I say that we walked around the whole entire place within the first 5 minutes of being there!
Every time my boys wanted to do an activity, for instance shop at the grocery store, there was something missing. They couldn’t find any grocery baskets, to put the food into. Then, when we finally stole a basket from a baby that shouldn’t have had it on the first place, they couldn’t find the food that went into the damn basket. It seemed like every kid that has been there, has either eaten the toys or took them home with him. We tried going into a garden, where the kids have to plant the food. That didn’t work out so well either, my youngest found a half eaten strawberry. It was plastic!!!
When they got to the police station, there were uniforms missing, and missing pieces. Buttons fell off, hats missing. At the ATM machine, where my kids wanted to take out all their “pretend” money out of, i saw a huge line form. I realized that i was the only parent in line with my kids. So, as i watched kids ranging in age from 1 to 9, cutting in line, pushing and shoving each other, i started to look around for someone that worked there, or the kids’ parents… There was absolutely no supervision of any kind, kids were running around on their own, parents nowhere to be seen… I had a random thought pop into my head: what if some of the parents dropped the kids off, and snuck out through the back? Just as i was debating if that was morally the right thing to do, i saw yet another kid cut right in front of us. At this point, we watched this go on for about 15 minutes, and i was willing to do the whole “wait and see” approach, until my oldest finally gave me the: “OK mom, go for it!” look. Feeling a little uneasy, since i don’t usually feel right yelling at someone elses’ kids, but having no choice at this point, he he, i gently and quietly told the kid in front of us that if he didn’t move out of the way this instant, he would be sorry… He moved.
And on top of all that, the whole place smelled like a giant poopie diaper!
Oh, and apparently they had some big bruhaha over an Indian Swastika symbol that was hanging in one of the rooms.
As we were leaving, exactly 35 minutes and 23 seconds later, they had the nerve to ask if I’d like to donate some MORE money toward their institution!?!? And if I was interested in becoming a full year member, which means i can come back anytime I want!
I pondered my answer for a second, as i looked at my oldest who was shaking his head “no” with such force, i was afraid it would come off his neck. I think to him, it was worse than me threatening to send him to a Communist camp.
Not a RALPHS fan in the least
Being a wife, a mother and a woman in general, you find yourself at a grocery store quite a bit. I also find myself quite a bit pissed off when I’m there. I really thought that America was all about business, and customer service, and giving really good customer service. I just assumed that coming to this country from Russia, where back there most people didn’t know what “customer service” even meant, I would only find happy, go-lucky people here in the States.
Apparently, I was wrong. I keep hearing the phrase “good customer service is hard to find”, from everyone these days. I never really thought about it, until I started paying attention. Take my neighborhood Ralphs grocery store for example. I was in there the other day, and was hoping to find those small, Persian-style cucumbers. I remember that they used to carry them before. One of the produce guys was working close by, so I went up to him and asked if they ever get those cucumbers in. Without even looking at me, he blurts out: “No!”, and keeps working. No explanation, no offering to see if they could order some, NOTHING. Me being a big mouth, and wanting my damn Persian cucumbers, I ask him if they ever order those anymore? “No”, he says. Well, at that point I couldn’t back down, even if I wanted to. “Do you think you COULD order some, and I will come and buy them all?” This time he actually turned to look at who has the balls to keep bugging him! What a miracle, I thought!
As I waited for his response, he blurts out: “Fine, I will see if we can order them!” I am sure what he meant to say was: “I will order them, if you take your annoying ass out of here.”
Did I mention how much I dread going to my neighborhood supermarket? And I’m not saying that other stores are any better. I tried going to the Persian store, further away but was told they have the best produce, and carry a lot of Russian and Israeli foods, which I was very happy about. I learned fast that if you don’t speak Farsi, they just ignore you! They are very nice when you first walk in, and assuming that you are Persian, they say: “Salom”, which I have no problem to say back to them, but that’s as far as my Farsi language goes. Once they realize you have no clue what they are saying, they leave. I’ve tried asking for something a couple times, only to get the same response as the moron from Ralphs, “No”. Once you finally get to the checkout stand, the checkers don’t even look at you or say “hello”. They just keep scanning and bagging your groceries until you are done.
One of the last times I went to the Persian market, during the checkout process, I asked the clerk: “Why are you so mad?” He looked up at me, and I swear I wasn’t sure if he was going to ask me to get the hell out of the store, or throw the groceries at me. Without answering, he proceeded to bag my groceries. The people in line behind me didn’t seem to find it funny or amusing either… Let’s just say that was the last time I went to that store.
I expect the rudeness from the Russian stores, it’s in their blood, I know they can’t help it. That’s just how they behaved themselves back in the old country. During Communism, life was bad, not enough food, sometimes no food and the the store clerks were the bearers of bad news. When you’ve been waiting in line for 3 hours for a skinny, unplucked dead chicken with all the hairs and his head and neck still on, the last thing you want to hear is that they ran out!!! And the fat, ugly He-woman standing behind the counter is the one to deliver the bad news to you. You know she hates her job, but it’s a job and someone has to do it. I can only imagine how my Mother felt after a long day at work, then standing in line for a promised chicken only to find out the guy in front of you took the last one… I know I wouldn’t have taken the news well, and probably would have reached over the counter and tried to strangle her.
When that same woman behind the counter immigrated to the U.S., the only job she could get was being a store clerk, and with no English, she had to do it at a Russian store. Unless you are Russian, and used to that sort of thing I don’t suggest going into one. Its almost as if people forget they are in America, and once enter the store start reminiscing about the bad-old days. They forget that its not the “first-come, first-get-it” mentality. There is no need for shoving and pushing, and on top of that yelling, very loud yelling over everyone’s heads!
The first time I took my husband to a Russian store in Los Angeles was back when we were dating. Boy, was he scared. Even though he is a 4th generation Russian, his grandparents never talked about their days there. He is still learning about the culture and the way life was in Russia. He was definitely not prepared, and I almost felt bad for him. Some 80-year-old woman shoved him into a corner while trying to grab some bread. I must have been busy yelling at the clerk because I didn’t even notice him standing quietly in a corner, with his eyes about to pop out of his head. Its a pretty scary sight for a newbie to be thrown into the chaos of leftover Soviet-era mentality.
I’m pretty sure that I am on some kinds of a “list” in every grocery store in Orange County, they all have had enough of me and my efforts to “change” things… Oh and you know how much we, Jews LOVE being on lists! I try to avoid being placed on any kind of lists, even the good ones. Going to a bar or club, I’d rather wait in line in the freezing cold than have my name be put on a list. I don’t care that its a VIP list, its still a list.