Thursday, August 19, 2010
If I wrote a letter it would go like this:
This is not the kind of letter you normally get. It isn't about your tires or anything related to them. It isn't about an accident that was averted thanks to great traction or even the friendliness of the technicians in one of your stores.
This is a letter about a marketing display. Or, as he's come to be known in our house, The Balloon Man.
It started a few months ago. See, you have a service center that's located really close to our house. It's right next to our neighborhood Home Depot, and also adjacent to a major intersection that we cross to get just about anywhere. For a while I would idly talk to my two-year-old Bean about the large red balloon dude affixed to a fan so he would be doing a herk-a-jerk wiggle and dance in front of your store as we passed. I'd wave and tell Bean to say hello. That was it.
Everything changed two weeks ago when I needed to pick up some WD40 at Home Depot. It was a nice day outside and I suggested to Bean that we walk. She wanted none of it. She wanted to stay home and watch Elmo. Or color with her crayons. Or snack on toast. Or watch paint dry. Anything except accompany me on an errand to Home Depot. I am an industrious and creative sort, so I dug deep into my repertoire for something to entice Bean to come with me free of hysterics. Here's what I came up with:
The Balloon Man.
"Bean. If you come with me to Home Depot we'll get to SEE THE BALLOON MAN." (Said in the most booming and pee-your-pants-for-the-excitement voice I could muster. And I was very musterful at that particular moment.) I raised my eyebrows. I clapped my hands. I did everything just short of a JIG to convey my extreme pleasure at visiting the Red Dancey Vinyl Giant IN PERSON.
She took the bait.
She was very excited.
She was clap-her-hands and squeal and do an ACTUAL JIG for the excitement at seeing the Tried-and-True, Accept-No-Substitutes BALLOON MAN... IN THE FLESH.
So off we went. We walked to Home Depot, all the while Bean peppering me with her anticipation of seeing this vinyl celebrity in person. "Balloon man? We see the balloon man? Bean see the Balloon Man?"
"Yes honey. We're going to see him."
And then we did. We stood in your parking lot and gazed up at the magnificence of In-Person Balloon Man. He did not disappoint.
He continues to be Bean's favorite neighborhood superhero. I do believe she loves him. Loves to see him. Loves to wave to him as we pass by. Loves to talk to me about the fact that HE'S WAVING TO ME, MOMMY. HE'S WAVING TO ME!
There are days, though, that he's missing. And we get very sad. WE get very sad. WE are sad because Bean gets sad. WHERE IS HE, MOMMY? WHERE IS HIM????
When this happened a few days ago I told her that he must be taking a nap. Luckily this was the perfect answer, grasped desperately from the dusty bottom of my Parental Grab Bag of Magical Excuses. Bean supplied the rest of the trappings. She told me that the Balloon Man was in his crib. With his pacifier (paci). He was taking a NAP, she told me, with a serious nod.
Now I have just the right thing to tell her on those unfortunate days when we miss seeing The Balloon Man. It eases the disappointment. Let me just say, though, that you have never witnessed the sheer and unadulterated JOY of a Bean in the company of her beloved Balloon Man.
Thanks for providing such a useful and necessary service to our community. I thank you. And so does my daughter.
Please don't get rid of him anytime soon.
....but I didn't write a letter.
We stopped by the service center instead. And we told the manager. All three of us. We thanked him for The Balloon Man. His response, "Well, um. Thanks. That will certainly make it easier for me to do the chore of setting it up every day. If I know that someone is looking forward to seeing it......him. To seeing him."