Stay at home dad of three Cameron Lecky had a fight with an automated checkout machine last week. We’ve all been there, right?
The honeymoon period ended last week. My previously impenetrable facade of cool, calm and collected Stay at Home Dad didn’t just crack. It came crashing down like it had been hit with a Miley Cyrus wrecking ball.
It started with a fairly typical weekday trip to the local supermarket with the little fockers.
There I was, strutting through the supermarket in my #activewear, two kids in the shopping trolley, browsing the selection of fresh kale. Essentially, looking every part the modern SAHD. And that was when it started. As if by some previously agreed secret signal, Focker #1 started rapid-firing irrelevant and unrelated questions at me. Simultaneously, Focker #2 started taking exception to anything and anyone within arm’s reach, and lashing out indiscriminately.
“Daaa-AAA-aaad” (seriously, how the fuck does Focker #1 manage to make a three letter word into a three syllable word?) “Daaa-AAA-aaad, will veggies make me big and strong?”
“Daaa-AAA-aaad, what does that sign say?”
“Daaa-AAA-aaad, Lucas says that fire can put out water, is that true?”
“Daaa-AAA-aaad can we get a puppy? I want to call him Steven.”
“Daaa-AAA-aaad, Focker #2 just slapped that baby on the head.” OK, so this wasn’t a question, but Focker #1 is also very good at giving me a running commentary on anything remotely naughty that #2 attempts.
And then Focker #2 chimed in.
“Daaad-deeeeee” (only two syllables for this kid, but equally as fucking annoying).
“Yes bubba?” as I leant in towards her beautiful, innocent little face to better hear what she might have to say.
“Poke Daaad-deeee!!” she exclaimed as she nonchalantly jammed her index finger deep into my eyeball. Instant searing pain tore through my skull.
Even at this point, writhing on the supermarket floor in extreme agony and wondering if I’d ever regain my sight, I thought I might still be able to rescue the situation. And that was when the little fockers changed gears. First it was Focker #1 starting with the old one-two punch of “Daaa-AAA-aaad I’m hungry” and “Daaa-AAA-aaad I’m sooo bored.”
Focker #2 then chimed in by reaching out of the trolley and grabbing one of those large chocolate Easter eggs from the middle of a beautifully stacked display at the end of the aisle only to bring the whole display crashing down.
Even at this point, busily re-stacking the display with one eye closed and tears (or possibly blood) streaming down my face, I was taking some deep breaths and managing to keep a lid on the simmering pot of rage that was bubbling away inside of me. But they weren’t done yet.
The killer blow came just as we joined the queue for the self checkout. The finish line was in sight, and I was congratulating myself for surviving what was my most turbulent experience thus far as a SAHD.
And then it happened.
“Daaa-AAA-aaad, I need to go to the toilet.”
“Well son, you just need to hang on for a couple more minutes and then we can go.”
“Daaa-AAA-aaad, I’m busting.”
“Just hold on would you?” (there was a hint of panic in my voice as I frantically began scanning items and throwing them haphazardly on top of my kids in the trolley).
“Daaa-AAA-aaad, I think I need to do poos. My tummy hurts.”
“Ok buddy we can go in a minute. Just hang in there.”
And then a third voice joined the fray. The pleasant, but slightly smug and condescending automated voice of the self check-out.
“Please place the correct item in the bagging area.”
“Please buddy, just hold on for a few more seconds.”
“Please place the correct item in the bagging area.”
“FOR FUCKS SAKE, WOULD YOU JUST SHUT UP AND WAIT FOR TWO MORE SECONDS? AND MY ITEMS ARE IN THE FUCKING BAGGING AREA SO JUST SCAN THE FUCKING THING!!!!”
I erupted. I completely lost my shit. A stunned silence ensued, not just from my kids, but from everyone in the checkout area, as well as the entire fruit and veg section who’d all turned to look at the one eyed crazy guy who was yelling at the checkout machine. I felt the weight of everyone’s judgement descending on me, and was wishing the supermarket floor would open and swallow me whole. That is, until I finally plucked up the courage to squint around at my new audience. My one good eye met with the eyes of a woman standing nearby who had clearly been there before. She gave me a look. A look of camaraderie, recognition and shared suffering. A look that said, “Fuck yes, I feel your pain, I’ve been where you are right now, and goddamn I respect you for it.”
That woman and that look saved me that day, and enabled me to walk out of the supermarket with my head held high.
After a timely trip to the public toilets to ease Focker #1’s load, we finally got to the car and unpacked the trolley. It was then that I discovered that things had taken a turn for the better. Focker #2, bless her little cotton socks, was sitting on a sizeable stash of Easter eggs that she had slipped into the trolley and smuggled through the checkout.
I’d like to believe that at two years old she couldn’t possibly have known what she was doing. Blinding her daddy, and then taking advantage of his incapacitated state to launch her shoplifting career. But then, I also know how cunning this kid really is. Ordinarily, I would have gone straight back in to the supermarket, explained the situation, and returned the stolen property, but this time I didn’t. Fuck you automated checkout machine. Stick that in your bagging area.
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