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A Baby Booby Trap

, , , , | Right | November 11, 2020

I’m covering a cash register during a slow period when a frazzled mother comes up with a crying baby in her cart. Mom tries soothing her, but the baby is inconsolable.

Me: “Can I try?”

Mom: “Knock yourself out.”

I pick up a small plastic Mickey Mouse figurine from the register:

Me: “Look, it’s actual-size Mickey! We know who this is, don’t we?”

The baby stops crying, recognizing the character and eyes going wide and starstruck when I hold out the toy, and then she starts smiling. Mom stands there with her eyes closed while I ring her groceries through, soaking up the peace. When we get to the end of the transaction, she tenses up in preparation for the inevitable tantrum when I have to take the toy back.

Me: *Wiggling my fingers* “All right, I’m gonna have to pull an Indiana Jones Temple of Doom maneuver here.”

I maintain eye contact, keeping the baby’s attention on the receipt while I stealthily slip my hand over the toy.

Me: “Okay, now we’re putting you in charge of this super-duper important paperwork. Make sure to hold on reaaaaaaal tight so you don’t lose it, okay? Look how crinkly. What is it? Aaaaaaand… extraction complete.”

The baby takes the receipt with both hands and studies it. She can’t quite put her finger on what just happened and looks back and forth between her mother and me, perplexed.

Me: “Huh? Did I just pull a switcheroo? We already forgot, didn’t we? Good thing you have no attention span, so you’re easy to bamboozle!”

The baby decides this confusion is amusing, and her mood switches to mirthful and she starts dancing in her seat.

Me: “And we forgot what we were crying about in the first place. Have a great rest of your night!”

Mom: “Do you have kids?”

Me: “Not yet. I’m holding off.”

Mom: “Well, when you do, I think you’ll be fine. Thanks!”

Still no kids yet, but at least this gave me more confidence that I can handle it.