Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Barbie Boat

This is a story about a dream that was caught, but that resulted in bitter disappointment.

Some people are good with money. Others are not. Examples are people who buy without thinking, and regret it later. That is an example of someone who is not good with money. 
Then you have people who think twice, thrice, about buying something before they purchase it. They are good with money. 

I have a theory to explain the difference between an easy shopper and the thoughtful shopper. The spender and the saver. Because I work in a store, I encounter many a family who are shopping. This involves their offspring who will want to have everything the store has to offer. “I like this mom! Oh wow this is so cool, look, look, LOOK MAMA LOOK.”

Most of the times the parents buy their kids gifts. But this is not about them. It’s about the kids who have their own money saved up. They get to buy something with their own savings and their parents are there to guide them in the process.

It’s quite endearing to watch to be honest. When they finally decide on something, it’s usually the most stupid thing I, or the parent, can find in the store. The parent will repeatedly make sure their kid is aware he is spending all his money on this thing. He will not be able to buy anything else. Are they sure. Okay then, go ahead it’s your decision.

The kid will probably regret it hours, days or weeks later. But that is part of the learning process.

But I’m assuming everyone had these moments in their youth. So that is not what determines and shapes an easy shopper or a thoughtful shopper. What I think shapes a person, is a dramatic, terrible and failed purchase. One you will regret and remember the rest of your life. One that impacts you so much, that you will never make the same mistake again. A life lesson learned.

The Barbie boat was, is, my life lesson learned.

The age of my person when this life milestone was reached is unbeknownst to me. It would be my guess that I was perhaps 8 or 9 years old. A tiny little girl, long blonde locks of hair, a piggy nose and slanted asianish eyes when laughing. Always talking, talking, talking. This tiny little girl was very good at saving. She did not like spending her money on herself. She preferred to buy silly things she thought would make great gifts. If she was going to spend money on herself, it had to be something she really wanted. She finally found such a thing. It was on the television, a commercial, about a great and fantastic Barbie boat. It had a little house; you could go inside the boat. It could probably house 3 Barbies at the same time. And as the icing on the cake, it had a blender incorporated inside the boat that could make milkshakes and drinks! It sounds a little unreal even now.

Of course she was absolutely smitten with the Barbie boat. She did not yet have the funds, but she was a marvelous saver (and beggar) and after a few months (probably weeks) it was time. Her mother knew she wanted that Barbie boat desperately. What she didn’t know, is that her daughter wasn’t in love with the boat, but with the blender. She saw strawberry smoothies floating in her dreams, thought of recipes for fantastic milkshakes and delicious juices. She couldn’t care less about the Barbie boat. It was pink, and therefore the blender was pink, this was good. But the Barbie boat was a means to an end. Buy the Barbie boat, get the blender.

Of this her mother was unaware. She naturally thought that her daughter wanted to play with her Barbies, on the Barbie boat.

So there they went, with a big envelope full of money. That little girl is one of the many kids I had in front of my counter. A piggybank, envelope or tiny wallet. The shyly asking if they can have the “Barbie boat”, and then slowly, oh-so-slowly, digging out the money, taking forever to count.

That’s what tiny Doni was doing. She shyly pointed to the Barbie boat behind the counter (a testament to how expensive it was) and slowly pried the coins and bills out of the worn envelope. When a hundred gilders were reached – a high amount even for an adult – her mother asked if she was absolutely, positively sure. She nodded yes; the blender was almost within reach. Nothing would stop her now.

Then the purchase was made. The Barbie boat was hers.

Back home she sat down and marveled at it. Excited, she got her strawberries and got her milk. With a big smile she sat in front of the boat, put the ingredients in the blender, and pressed on.

It didn’t work.

She pressed again. Nothing.
A moment of silence.
Then the trembling of the lower lip and watery eyes full of panic and disbelief.

She cried, asked her mother, asked her father. But not even her father could make it work. And now it became apparent to the parents that it was not the boat she wanted, but the blender. If her mother had known this, she could have helped her daughter, since the blenders sold separately from the boat (and were a lot cheaper).
But alas, it was too late, the purchase was made. The blonde locked girl was devastated. And she hated herself for not realizing that the blender could be gotten separately. Blinded by the commercial of the Barbie boat, blinded by the praises the TV sang. She had spent a fortune. It was a black day, an empty night. The Barbie boat was despised, and never played with. Perhaps she even kicked it once or twice. She vowed something like this would never happen again.

And that’s the day I became a thoughtful shopper.

I believe that if you as a child had an experience like that, that it shapes you. If a family member had bought a new blender for me, or gave me my money back, the life lesson would never have been learned. By letting me suffer then, I remember this milestone in my life now. Everytime a child comes by the shop with their envelope of money, I remember the Barbie boat. And I wonder, if that will be THEIR Barbie boat. I hope it is.

(To this day I do not know why we didn’t just go back and get a working one, my child mind has not remembered such insignificant facts. You would think there would warranty on it, but perhaps little Doni has damaged the blender herself, or did the warranty not extend to the blender. The blender did actually work; here is some proof!)


  1. Haha I love it! I wish I had a "barbie boat"..

  2. Ik weet die boot nog wel....Kon me niet herinneren dat je die zelf gekocht had. Wel dat het echt een luxeding was, maar wist niet eens (meer) dat er blender op zat, laat staan dat je m daar voor wilde haha.

    1. Perhaps you even played more with it than I did!

    2. Doubt it....you were quite possessive of your toys :D