Drive Up and Dial

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Recently a group of friends and I were lamenting the hassle of running errands with young kids. It’s a royal pain to unstrap them from the car seat, hoist them up and haul them in for a short stop at say, the dry cleaners or drug store. Witness my recent Nightmare in CVS episode to pick up Amoxicillin for two year old Daughter with ear infection:

“I’m sorry Ma’am, we don’t have it.”

“But I heard the nurse call it in!”

“Oh, here it is, but has your insurance changed?”

“Not since I picked up her fluoride vitamins last week!”

All the while Daughter is screaming in pain and lunging out of the cart or my arms. Put her down and she grabs candy from the toddler-height racks and cleverly rips it open. (Smart chick.) I vow never to return. Where is the new drive-through pharmacy in town?

Of course, the other secret solution is to leave your children unattended in the car for just a quick run into the store. Both illegal and dangerous, this option is only used in the most dire circumstances when your eyes can be on the kids from inside the store. And, anyone who’s ever tried this knows what a nervous wreck you are the entire time. First, in case Daughter or Son might be screaming even though you put favorite Barney CD on and opened books on their laps. But actually the greater fear is getting busted by a passerby who calls the cops. Even worse: a write up in the local paper’s Police Log that details said Irresponsible Mother who left children in car in the Store parking lot and claimed she was just “running in to get a few things.” Tssk Tssk.

The 2008 solution? Drive up service. Yep, my friend D. presented this ingenious solution at our girls’ night out. It’s perfect for dry cleaners and even her example, the liquor store! She pulls up front and dials the store:

“Hello, this is D. and I’m out front in the car with my kids. Would you mind bringing me two bottles of chilled Kendall Jackson?” That’s it. Easy as pie. She hands them her credit card or sets up a store charge. Works like a charm.

So, the other day, faced with sleeping Son and soon to be sleeping Daughter, I pulled up to a local vacuum repair shop. How am I going to do this? What if Daughter screams and wakes up Son? And then I remembered D.’s trick and decided to give it a try. I dialed the shop:

“Hi, this Heather Levy. I dropped off my vacuum the other day. Is it ready? Oh, great. Listen, I’m out front in my car with two sleeping kids in the back. Would you mind bringing it out?” He said sure.

And that was it. I handed him cash, he went in and made change and brought that out.

Now, I’m a convert. I realize my new trick’s only appropriate with certain merchants in certain settings, but imagine if stores starting marketing this service as a value added option? They’d corner the Mom market and keep our kids – and reputations – safe.

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