I should say before continuing that I had a perfectly legitimate reason for going to Build-A-Bear by myself, without my children. When I take my children to Build-A-Bear, they selfishly insist on getting animals for themselves. Furthermore, they claim they need "help." So, I have never done a bear for me.
Not that this was a bear for me, per se. I mean, technically, I own it, but it isn't for me. It's for my students. I teach music at an elementary school. Our mascot is the Wildcats. Build-A-Bear has a special High School Musical bear. The school in High School Musical also has the Wildcats as a mascot. So, you see, there was no way around it: I had to purchase a Build-A-Bear High School Musical Special Edition Bear for my young Wildcats. And I had to do it in person, not online, because that would have been cheating.
I've taken the kids to Build-A-Bear dozens of times. We usually don't deal with the staff, because Sven and I want to Share The Experience with our kids. We have generally gone on a weekend or holiday, when the store is completely stuffed and we're lucky to escape with our lives, let alone our custom blow-up bear furniture. However, as an adult woman, alone, on a workday during a non-holiday week, I had a totally different Build-A-Bear experience.
Firstly, the staff was not "on." The perkiness I normally associate only with Build-A-Bear employees and meth addicts was conspicuously absent. I chose my bear, got my sound module, and approached the giant stuffing apparatus with no acknowledgement. That was fine; I was a little embarrassed to be there, with only a tourist family for company. My discomfort was only slightly increased by the tourist family's apparent lack of interest in buying a bear; however, they photographed every step of my journey, which will, I'm sure, make an interesting slide show when they get back home.
When I finally approached the Stuffing Machine of the Gods, the young woman working there managed to put a smile on her face and motioned me forward.
"Hi," she said uncertainly.
"This is for my students," I said, wanting us all to be at ease. The tourist family nodded.
"Whew!" she said. "Do you want to do the whole spiel?"
"No, that's okay," I laughed. I handed her the bear to stuff. The tourist family got their cameras ready.
"Did you kiss your heart?" the Stuffer asked.
"I thought we were skipping-"
"KISS THE HEART!" she commanded, choosing one from the bin of bear organs they keep next to the stuffing turbine. The tourist family grinned, pleased to capture the moment. I kissed the heart. She stuffed the bear until it was acceptable to me (which I had to prove by hugging) and then moved immediately to the cash register.
You heard right. She didn't try to get me to "bathe" the bear under the air showers, register the bear's birth certificate, or dress the bear. Furthermore, she didn't attempt to upsell the bear condominium, furniture, or time share on Fire Island. She allowed me to pick out some miniature animals for my children, then sent me on my way.
As I staggered out of the store, I saw the tourist family headed for the animal bins. I left them there, intent on saving myself. I hope they made it out.