This is embarrassing and it's taken over a week to process, but since I'm sorting out the situation this morning, I might as well summarize what happened:
last Friday, the day before we went to Sea Isle City, Catherine sent me to the store to buy a few last minute items for our vacation . . . she sent me to the store . . . I do all of my shopping with Amazon Prime now, so even planning for this was an adventure-- I needed peanut butter, granola, spandex underwear for the kids, and a small cooler for beer and snacks-- and so I made a detailed list of these items, with notes, and I figured I would go to a grocery store and a sporting goods store, but my wife said no, I could get all these things at the local Target;
I drove to Milltown, parked the car in the giant parking lot, and went into the store, a brightly lit vast cavernous space full of all kinds of new items (if you haven't been to a store in a while, I would describe it as a living version of Amazon, but all jumbled up) and the first thing I'd like to say is that I did a fantastic job shopping-- I selected an appropriate sized cooler (and there are a lot of coolers to choose from, I felt like Navin in The Jerk with his extraordinary thermos) and I found some multi-colored spandex underwear for the kids, to prevent chafing from the sand and surf, and I chose two different kinds of granola (there are a lot of different varieties of granola, each one healthier than the next, and the packaging is very enticing) and I got the right kind of peanut butter (Skippy Natural, No Need to Stir) and while I had certainly relied on my notes-- there's a lot of extraneous stuff in stores to distract you-- I had done it, mission accomplished, and now all I needed to do was check out;
I went over to the line area, which is pretty chaotic at Target, you have a number of slots to choose from and each slot has a near cashier and a far cashier, and I didn't know the etiquette, if you could just jump to a far cashier, but I did it anyway and the lady greeted me, she was middle-aged and portly and had some kind of foreign accent (Slovakian?) and she asked me if I wanted 5% off my purchase and I said "Sure" and she said all I needed was a Red Card-- which I assumed was one of those little doohickeys you keep on your keychain and they scan it with your items and you get a discount, I have one for our local grocery store-- and then I was immersed in answering a number of questions on the credit card charging screen, and they were fairly detailed questions-- the little screen wanted to know how much I earned annually and my address and my social security number-- which seemed kind of crazy, just to get a little discount card, but the cashier-lady with the accent kept distracting me, so I couldn't process how weird and detailed these questions were . . . ske kept asking me questions about my purchases, she was really interested in where I got the spandex underwear, as she wanted some for someone in her life (her husband? I don't know, I have a hard time doing two things at once, and it was traumatic enough to be in a store) and I kept telling her that I found the underwear in the boys department, and then I pointed towards the blue hanging sign that said "Boys" and she wanted to know if they had these in the men's department, and I told her I didn't know, and then I finally finished answering all the questions on the screen and fended off all her questions about the kids spandex underwear and then she she said, happily, "You've been approved!" and she informed me that I had just signed up for a brand new Target credit card and I told her that I didn't want a Target credit card, that I had just come to the store for four things, not FIVE things . . . a Target credit card was not on the list and she looked at me, perplexed, and I asked if I could cancel it and she said she didn't know how to do that, and I told her not to use this card on the purchase, that I didn't want to save the 5% and then I got on my high horse and told her she should be more clear about the fact that this Red Card was a credit card-- I was stern, but too confounded to really let her have it, although I was quite pissed off and felt I should have;
then I drove home to tell my wife the news, and I knew she wasn't going to be happy and she wasn't . . . she was like: I send you to the store for a few things and you come back with a new credit card, I don't want to worry about that!-- and then when I told this story at the beach, to my cousins and family, my mother pointed out that Target did a great job employing folks with special needs as cashiers, and I realized that this woman didn't have a Slovakian accent, she had a learning disability or a speech impediment, and she had preyed on me and probably gotten some kind of bonus because she signed up a customer for a credit card, and so though I'm annoyed that I've got to call Target in a few minutes and cancel this thing (it just came in the mail) at least I know in my heart that I helped out someone that needed a helping hand (inadvertently . . . and I did chastise her a bit) and I will never go inside a store again (except for looting, when this whole consumerist nightmare fall apart).