My Name is Lil’ S#!t…!
Someday, I was going to go back to college and become a school teacher. But in the interim, in the summer of 1983 I worked at a toy store, more specifically Keebee’s Toys & Hobbies at the Christown Mall in Phoenix, Arizona. However, everyone who crossed my path received an education in how to have fun. With me on the sales floor, there was never a dull moment in our store. I was always doing something to increase sales or make people laugh.
I’d been working at the store for awhile. To help advertise our store and make kids feel special, I started writing the children’s names on their purchases. Whatever they’d bought (even from other stores) went into a KeeBee’s bag with their name on it. It was fun to hear the kids brag to anyone who’d listen to them going down the mall – “Look! Buy stuff at KeeBee’s and get your name on da bag!” Everything was going smoothly and sure enough business increased.
Back in those days some parent’s felt safe enough to send their kids in to the store with a little money to buy something for them; while the parents shopped in nearby stores. Frequent mall parents knew me - $2 to $5 went a long way in my store. I made sure their kids made good choices for their money. I made sure the kids walked away with at least 2 or 3 treats. Treats that lasted 10 minutes - like candy, 30 to 60 minutes like some fancy gum and/or a little toy, and something that lasted at least 48 hours - like matchbox cars, a sturdier game, a book to read, or a coloring book.
One day a little boy who hadn’t been to the store in a while stopped by to browse. We knew each other, from previous visits – but I’d never learned his name. The little guy, who was about 5 years old, told me his momma had decided it was high time he earned his own money if he wanted to buy something.
I teased him. You mean just coming to see me or petting those big ol’ State Fair snakes wasn’t good enough for him? He laughed. You want to buy stuff? “YES!” He said. He told me he hadn’t been here in awhile because he’d been workin’ and savin’ his money. His Momma made him do his chores and then do extra jobs to earn money. I told him – I thought his Momma was doing the right thing.
The little guy said, the work was hard; he had been doing extra jobs like porch sweepin’ and picking up dog do-do. It had taken him 3 weeks, but he had saved up $10.00; he put $5 in his savings and decided to come spend the remaining $5. This wasn’t Momma’s money, it was his. So he had to really shop for a good deal.
He ended up spending only $3. I put the stuff in his bag and explained our new name on the bag promotion. Then I asked the little guy his name? Without skipping a beat he said, my name is Little Sh!t. I was stunned and my boss chuckled and comments, “That’s a new one.” Undaunted, I looked down at the little guy and asked for the spelling. He looked back up at me – and said meekly, “I don’t know, but you’re grown – don’t you know?”
“Humf” I said, and tried to look as puzzled as possible. I looked at my boss and he just shrugged. So I said, “We’ll do what the newspapers do” and wrote, “Lil’ S#!t” on the bag. I handed him his bag and silently prayed his Mom would understand.
About 15 minutes passed, but sure enough the little guy came jogging back in. “I need a new bag. My real name is Steven with a “V” for Victory. My Momma say’s I’m a winner!” “Yes – You are! You’re a winner in my book, too.” I chuckled as I wrote “Steven” on a new bag and tucked the old bag inside.
Lady Jewells (Feb 2013)
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