If there's one thing I've learned as a parent, it's that babies mean goo, mess, and disgusting substances smeared all over the floor. Having a baby in the house forced me to learn how to use that mop that had been meditating all alone in the utility closet for years. I've also learned that you can never, ever find the correct mophead replacement for your replaceable-head mops. Here's my true story (listen and learn). Close your eyes and imagine a place, a time, not so far from here...
I'm the weary mother of a pre-walking baby whose favorite activity is flinging food around the kitchen. I'm also the victim of a sadistic landlord who installed white linoleum on the kitchen floor. After battling baby food and assorted family-generated grime for months, the sponge on my beloved mop (which dates from my college days) is worn and crusted — no doubt about it, it's time to replace that mophead. But down at the supermarket, my brand mophead — my brand mop, for that matter, is not there.
We cruise the aisles, Annie and I. The bright lights above, the bright colors on either side enchant my charming little one who grabs and coos as we glide. I use the opportunity to shop for groceries, then pay, load the car, load Annie, drive to another store, unload her, get her in the cart... and so on. She's not quite so charming at this store. And this store doesn't have my mop heads either. So it's "Back to the car, darling," and on we drive.
Three stores and a grumpy baby later, I realize that my mop company is out of business or has changed the models, and unless I buy a whole new mop or get down on my knees, I now have no way to clean the layers of mashed yam and banana off the kitchen floor.
"Fine," I mutter, "I'll make sure this never happens again!" I select a new mop, and grab two replacement mopheads at the same time. Now I'm set. At the rate I mop floors (even with a baby in the house), this stash of cleaning gear should last me until Annie goes off to college. Delighted with my own ingenuity and foresight, I join the long line at the supermarket checkout.
Alas, it's one of those days. Annie's in the front of the basket, exhausted from all the mop shopping and about to melt down. With the snarl on that little face, she no longer warrants the adjective, "cute." The checker is on Valium, and the people in line are not, evidently, on Prozac. They grumble and hiss as each transaction ahead of me requires check approval, or elderly customers slowly count out their pennies from multiple envelopes secreted in various pockets all over their body.
I pacify Annie with cookies. Bad Mommy.
Finally the cashier rings up my mop and two mopheads. "$32.85." And at my dropped jaw: "The mop is $10.95 and the mopheads are $10.95 each.
"What!?!" I bark. Annie, startled, begins to cry. The checker, confronted with an irate, weary mother with crumbs on her shirt and a crying, runny-nosed baby, looks as though she's about to tear off her apron and run screaming from her job. Instead, she turns to the electronic pager without another word, and her voice echoes throughout the store: "Price check on aisle 2!" The crowd behind me starts to grumble, I'm afraid they're gonna turn ugly. I have images of lynch mobs, of holding my baby and dashing through the aisles screaming for mercy, "I just wanted to mop the floor!"
"That's ridiculous!" says the woman behind me. The man behind her nods. A rumble goes through the line. "What a rip-off!"
"I'm so tired of this mop thing."
"Yeah! They charge as much for the sponge as they do for the mop!"
"And they change the models every six months!"
"Yeah!" "We should do something!"
The crowd has mobilized in support. I proudly brush the cookie crumbles from my shirt and raise my head high. I feel like Joan of Arc, ready to lead the great mop brigade to war, waving Annie like a flag as we parade through the streets shouting, "Mop Justice!" "Mops for All!" "Moms for Mops!"
But Annie is ready for a nap, so I merely buy the mop — no mopheads — and head on home. I'll deal with it later. I've got a tired baby and a floor to clean.