When I was eight, I thought my dad was the greatest dad in the world. He was a real life superhero in my eyes, complete with marathon-running endurance and x-ray vision through the cookie jar. I followed him practically everywhere he went, so I felt ecstatic when he asked if I wanted to go shop for office supplies with him. We got into his car and drove off.
My dad and I entered the Best Buy with high hopes for finding the perfect refrigerator. A salesperson greeted us after we stepped into the store.
“Welcome to Best Buy. How can I help you today, Sir?”
“Uh, I’m looking for a fridge. Do you know where I could find one?” My dad was too cool to find a fridge without help.
We walked through the store, following the salesperson. Flashing lights, sounds, and bright colors were everywhere. The amount of action that took place at once made the store seem like an electric playground. I wanted to take in every inch of it.
We passed through all the store’s departments: CDs, DVDs, speakers, video games, printers, gaming consoles, and TVs. The salesperson wanted us to see everything so we would buy more than just a fridge.
The amount of stimuli crammed into the store overwhelmed me. The store sold distractions, not electronics and appliances. The video game section displayed footage of virtual worlds flashing upon the screens. The latest musical hits emanated from the section of speakers. The TVs had different movies and low-budget cable shows playing.
I faithfully followed my dad until I passed a large flat-screen TV playing the movie UP. It captivated me. The unfamiliar colors and the characters told me of a house flying through the sky, assisted by a million balloons. The colors and sheer quantity of the balloons glued my eyes to the screen. I watched with rapt attention. This movie was the best thing that I had ever seen! I reluctantly turned away from the beauty of the screen to show my dad what I had found.
He wasn’t there.
I looked around again, sure I had just mistaken him for someone else, but he wasn’t there. I could feel my heart rate pick up and my palms sweat. Where was he? I began my frantic search through the store. It was imperative I find my dad. My speed increased and soon I was running through the store. I lost myself in a forest of appliances. Each washing machine looked ten feet tall. Tears started to form in my eyes. I angrily wiped them away and continued to search. I would not let myself fall to pieces just yet.
My hatred for the movie UP increased with each worried step I took. That movie got me into this mess! If that movie hadn’t been playing, I wouldn’t have lost my dad. I thought my dad was gone forever.
I started to plan out how I would live in the Best Buy until I grew old enough to find my way back home. At the time, I felt too young to walk home alone. I could sleep under the bathroom sink and beg people for food, and I would stay there until my dad showed up. I could befriend the regular shoppers and the employees to persuade them to bring me what I needed to survive until my dad came back. If he came back. It was at that moment I started to cry. I felt emotionally and physically drained. I was ready to collapse on the floor from exhaustion. Hope was slipping from my tiny, eight year old fingers.
I decided that instead of trying to find my dad by myself, I would ask for help because it felt impossible to find anyone in that labyrinth, let alone my dad. I ran up to the nearest salesperson and asked him to help me find my father. His buzz cut, acne, and food-stained blue polo screamed of the wisdom that comes with minimum-wage employment. He told me to follow him as he went to the loudspeaker. Trying to wipe away my tears, I followed his instructions, though I declined his offer to hold my hand, which appeared to be orange-tinted with Cheeto dust.
The employee took me up to the front desk and spoke into the intercom, “Would Mark Herron please come to the front desk to collect your child. I repeat, would Mark Herron please come to the front desk to collect your child.” Within a few seconds, my dad reappeared. It felt like an eternity since I last saw him. For all I knew, he had forgotten about me after what felt like years of being lost. Maybe he even considered adopting another child to replace me. Despite all this, my good spirits were restored. I had finally found my dad. I thought about giving up, but when I asked for help, I received it.
I can’t recall what happened immediately after I found him. I only remember the happiness that came with finding who I had lost.
After he had consoled me, we left the store arm in arm. He had found the fridge for his office and I had found my dad. We stopped at a gas station on the way home. He let me pick out a Grape Fanta and a bag of M&M’s. Everything was happy again. I didn’t have to worry anymore.
I still wonder how long it would have taken me to find my dad had I not asked for help. It could have been only a few extra minutes, or maybe another hour, or maybe even years! I will never know.
Regardless of the intense stress, I learned not to get distracted so easily. I also learned that Grape Fanta and M&M’s can work wonders for the soul. Mainly, I learned that it’s okay to ask for help. Even though it was embarrassing at first, it saved me a lot of trouble. It’s worth it, no matter what the situation is.
*This post is first in a series of peer-selected works that represent the best of the creative writing program at Booker T. Washington Magnet High School.