Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Big box = big pain

Last weekend, my mother and I were out Christmas shopping, hitting a number of stores in the morning before the roads became clogged with other shoppers. We ate lunch while the holiday music enticed us to spend more once we had full stomachs and our feet were rested a bit. One item eluded us, though. Something that jumps out in front of you whenever you're not looking for it, but now we couldn't seem to find one anywhere.

We ended up at the closest Big Box store. You know the one I mean. They have the best prices after all and there seems to be one in every quadrant of town. I have taken to avoiding this place at all costs, for a number of reasons. Too few employees, buggies of stock blocking the aisles. But the major reason is the sheer size of the place. First you have to walk the length of a football field in the parking lot to even get into the building. Then you're faced with a store the size of Oklahoma, not that I've ever been there, but I know it's big.

As we entered the front door (the one I'm convinced they have rigged with some fancy technological whirly gig to make you forget why you came there in the first place, so you buy lots more than you intended) of this particular SUPERSTORE version of the Big Box, I came to a dead halt. My mother ran into the back of me, in her fog of being 85 years old and probably out way too late by this time.

ACRES of stuff, as far as I could see. Farther, actually, since I couldn't even SEE the back wall of the place. Groceries to the right, off into the haze over there. Clothes in the middle, everything else to the right. And it was probably EVERYTHING ever made, from the looks of it.

A sheer exhaustion dropped down over me. I think the current vernacular would be OMG! I have the money today to buy just about anything I need, but the energy level of my younger days has deserted me. We stood there for a few minutes, trying to decide if it was worth it. Did we want that item enough to walk the distance it would require to find it?

Well, it turned out we did. So, off we went into the innards of the monster. However, I stopped the first employee I saw, the one who had her head ducked into a shelf of candles, hoping no one would notice her. I asked for the item. She stood up, gazed across the store diagonally and indicated I should follow her. Then she took off at a clip nearly impossible for me to match....me, the person who has conquered the Stairmaster at the gym. My poor mother was left shuffling in the dust, hanging on to the cart for support. But I didn't want to lose that woman who seemed to know where the item hid in the midst of millions of other items. Why don't they have a little trolley? A map, starting with YOU ARE HERE!  Maybe some of those headphones like they use in museums for walking tours. Something, anything.

After what seemed like 15 minutes, weaving around abandoned buggies, screaming kids, arguing couples, the foxhound employee stopped and pointed down the aisle in front of her. Then she was gone. Poof! Disappeared. I waited for my mother to catch up with me, and she didn't look too good by this time. Her face was pale and her breath was choppy.

Then we marched down that aisle, craning our heads right and left, up and down (yes, you have to look UP, too), until we reached the end. Puzzled, we reversed and did it again. Nothing.

It wasn't there after all. All gone. Empty space. SOLD OUT. OMG....

Is Peterson's 5 & 10 still open?


The hardest thing in life to learn is which bridge to cross and which to burn.
Frank Noble

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