BLOG: 6's & 7'S
You know that one toy that every kid just has to have? The one that the sadistic toymakers only produce in limited supply? Yes, that one. Of course, it’s different every year, and when my kids were little, I was just like the rest of the monsters, I mean, mothers, out trying to score that one thing, that one toy that would make them dance around the tree and scream “Thank you, Santa Claus!” Right. The only fat man involved was the one I kidney punched because he tried to grab my Cabbage Patch doll.
It was the year of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and the only thing my sons wanted was a red power ranger action figure. Of course, every child between the ages of four and fifty wanted the same thing and I had exhausted the search in my small town and surrounding areas. Two weeks before Christmas, and I tried to explain to them that I couldn’t find it. I might as well have been talking Furbish. They knew that what Mom couldn’t find, Santa would take care of. Damn the fat man.
I had one more shot. My aunt and I had planned to meet in Manhattan for a weekend of shows and Christmas fun. Of all the toy stores in the world, surely, FAO Schwartz would have the prize, right? Well, kind of. Amidst a mob of mothers I listened while the store manager explained:
“Our last shipment of power ranger figures will arrive in the morning at 5am.” Then he added. “By truck. In the alley.”
I wasn’t opposed to grappling in a dark, New York City alley at 5am for a power ranger, and I was pretty sure I could hold my own. But these other miscreants, I mean, mothers, were pretty excited about it, and that scared me. I shrugged, and thought, oh well, in the spirit of Christmas, I’ll round up some brass knuckles and a cat o nines and take my chances. What the hell.
I got there at 4 a.m., thinking I would be ahead of the crowd. The others were obviously more experienced at alley jacking trucks, and there were easily two hundred women already there. Yes, two hundred Zhu Zhu warriors, ready to crack you over the head with an Easy Bake Oven, if necessary.
Seeing that my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle moves were not intimidating anyone, I knew my chance of actually getting through these angry birds was pretty slim. They would be arm-loading, and if I got to the truck at all, the only thing that would be left would be, heaven forbid, a blue ranger. And from the looks of the crowd, I’d probably have to take a knife just to get that.
I was ready to accept defeat. I wavered between telling the boys that Santa is a jerk or to just blame their father. I started walking away, glancing back to the alley and trying to avoid the Christmas cheer that the twinkling lights and expensive decorations were there to encourage. Then I stopped and looked more closely at the decorations that were strung through the streets. “Well, Tickle Me, Elmo,” I said. I turned around and walked one block, turned and walked one more. Then I waited.
At 4:45, an unmarked 28 foot box truck crept down the street. At 4:46, I walked in front of it and forced it to stop.
“Lady, are you crazy!” Probably not certifiable, but that wasn’t the point.
“You hit me!” I yelled as I limped toward him and climbed on the step side.
“You are crazy. Lady, you need to get off my truck.”
I nodded. “Sure thing. I’ll just call your dispatcher and say you hit me and kept on going. Or, I could call him and tell him how professionally you handled Christmas Hell in that alley ahead. Either one will go in your file, right?”
“How do you know what alley I’m going to?”
I shrugged. “I work for a truck line. Last week one of our drivers took out Santa and all eight reindeer that were hanging too low across the street. Look around, this is the only route there is to that alley, and you have a 5 a.m. appointment.”
He laughed. “I guess you want me to open up my truck and get you one of those damn dolls. That ain’t gonna happen.”
He knew he was packing the goods. But I was smarter than the average beanie baby. “No! Of course not. I’m going to ask you to give me one of the ones you’ve got in the cab of this truck. Twenty bucks for a $7 toy, and a glowing compliment from one of the mothers at FAO Schwartz. Whatdya say?”
He thought for a moment. “What makes you think I have some in the cab?”
I gave him my best smirk and rolled my eyes. I do love truck drivers.
He thought for a moment and then sighed. “You got forty bucks?”
“Forty bucks! Highway robbery!” I said as dug in my pocket and grabbed two twenties. Then I realized, it actually was highway robbery and I was a maskless Zorro. “It has to be red,” I said as he leaned over and reached behind the passenger seat. I heard him mumble, “Well, hell, like I don’t know that.”
He handed me two boxes. I shook my head. “No, I only need one."
“One’s red and the other is green. They just came out with the green ones. You’ll be walkin’ in front of trucks for that one next week. I’m trying to save us both the headache.”
I walked back through the streets of Manhattan with more attitude than Holiday Barbie. I stood across the street from Hell Alley and watched as the biting, fighting, screaming and general chaos began. I couldn’t resist yelling “Merry Christmas, losers!” as I turned to leave. I smiled as I patted my coat, now bulging with two boxes—-a red ranger AND a green ranger. I had scored. And I’d be damned if Santa was going to get the credit for it.
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