Our grandson, Zellik, saves his money. Birthday gifts, Chanukah gelt, allowance, random acts of kindness from family and friends — all of it gets put away for “something special,” which is determined by some sort of boy logic. No spontaneous purchases of candy or trendy T-shirts for this 10-year-old. We’re talking technology.
I would like to attribute his laudable behavior to our oft-repeated admonition “Be careful with your money,” but I think it’s really Zellik’s natural practical personality. Zellik is a boy who looks before he leaps and who prefers to leap when the outcome looks 90 percent rosy. Then there’s that other pearl of wisdom we constantly repeat: “Be polite, no matter what.”
I’m telling you all this for a reason.
Zellik earned $100 by selling several items through a consignment shop. He thought long and hard about saving or spending it, but, as it happened, fate stepped in.
Our grandchildren and I were on our way to the latest “Star Trek” film, but we got stuck in traffic. We turned around, and as we headed home, the kids called out, “Let’s go to Target!”
“Why not?” I thought, aware that Target is often as entertaining as a movie.
Granddaughter Miriam headed to the books and records, and Zellik headed toward the tech aisles. He wanted to see how far his $100 windfall might take him, and I agreed that it was his money to spend however he chose.
He spotted a set of gigantic, high-quality, bright-green headphones, with some ancillary devices included. The posted price was $59.99, and Zellik told us that this superior item is usually more expensive.
Miriam suggested that we walk around the store for a while, allowing Zellik to think about the purchase, giving me a chance to look at sale items and enabling her to explore the shoe section. A half-hour later, Zellik decided to buy the headphones. “They’re the last ones on the shelf,” he reasoned, “so I better get them now.”
“Let’s go home and look on the Internet,” I suggested. “If they’re really such a great price, I’ll take you right back to Target to buy them.”
Zellik is a sensible kid (see above). We rushed home, and Zellik was right. The best price on Internet sites was $69.99. Back we went.
The headphones were still there, and Zellik took them to the cashier. When she rang it up, we saw that, including tax, the total was nearly $75. Zellik and I looked at each other, and he explained to the cashier that the price on the shelf was different. She scanned the package again and again and came up with the same $69.99.
“It says $59.99 on the shelf,” Zellik said calmly. “I’m sure.”
Now, remember, Zellik had $100, so he could have paid more, but there was a principle here. “Can somebody please check?” he asked, polite as can be. I wasn’t optimistic, but whatever the outcome, a teaching moment was upon us, and I had to let it play out.
The cashier called the manager. She listened to Zellik’s story and followed him to the shelf where the headphones had been displayed. We didn’t know what the manager would do, and we were concerned when she stepped behind the counter, took my credit card and canceled the sale.
“The headphones were obviously in the wrong place,” the manager said, “but I don’t think you switched them. I’m going to accept your price.” Zellik was thrilled, of course, and as a bonus he got a powerful lesson in customer service.
On the way home, I told Zellik his good manners played a big part in the manager’s decision, and we agreed that she probably felt good about helping a kid.
There were so many disparate pieces to the experience: the $100 bonanza, the missed movie, the mis-displayed, last set of headphones, Zellik’s patience, the sympathetic manager, the gift of a perfect teaching moment. Of this I’m sure: It was beshert, Zellik’s destiny, to own those headphones, so everything had to happen just as it did.