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Friday, May 19, 2017

Shopping Day, Part II

Part II of III. Part I is here

It was a maze of pallets, displays, abandoned shopping carts, tall moveable steps closed off at the we aren’t worried if they get hurt.
base with a chain and a sign with the severe warning, “Risk of Injury Employee Use Only,” as if to say

And people, a lot of people, some single, some in roving groups, wandering around the store, it could have been a scene from the Warriors, roving gangs bent on making it from the garden center to the building materials aisle, and other gangs and the occasional, normally impossible to find Home Depot employee trying to stop them.  “Excuse me, ma’am, can I help you?” Nobody falls for that line, at least not twice.

Many of them were staring at something setting on a shelf, or hanging on a peg, staring at it as if they were looking through it, or they didn’t really understand what it was. I imagine it will be that way during the first few encounters with an extraterrestrial life form (unless it has already happened). Looking, seeing, staring, but not really understanding, and definitely not believing.

We weaved our way through the madness, looking carefully around corners, looking back, constantly looking. The air was heavy, charged with a current you could almost feel. It had the feel of an approaching storm. Not the kind that brought cool weather, watered the plants, provided relief, the kind that blew in manic, violent, tore up trees, destroyed property and left the air heavy and wet.

In the long center aisle that bisects the building right down the center perpendicular to the doors there was a display of microwave ovens standing proud yet surprisingly affordable. They were a beacon, calling people to the home appliances. On the back side of the microwave display, the side farthest from the front of the store stood four brand new refrigerators, still in the box. Apparently, Mother’s Day is a big day for large, durable home goods.

This left only a small opening, a narrow gap in front for the traffic.  And it was crowded, we were coming up, through the hand tool aisle, and had almost arrived at the Microwave Gap, at the same time as a man from the right came pushing a cart filled with mulch, shovels, rakes, flowers, weed killer and plant food. And from the left was a man pushing a cart loaded with 2 x 4s, 2 x 6s, 2 x 8s, almost the entire catalog of dimensional lumber, several boxes of nails and screws, hammers, screw drivers, a leather belt with pockets for tools and fasteners.

Neither was willing to move or wait. Inching closer and closer to a catastrophic meeting right in front of us, malice and violence obvious in their every move, a Spanish guitar played in the background.  Lumber bounced and clattered as the man on the right, picked up the back of the cart a small way and dropping it back to the concrete floor.

A clanging, rhythmic pulse came as the man with the mulch bounced a hand trowel against the side of the metal bar serving as the rear handle, then he slowly scraped it across the steel shovel blade, sparks flew and the sound was evil. The other man reached for the hammer sitting on top of a box of serious looking nails.

Closer, and closer, neither willing to look away, staring at each other with the animosity of boxers at a weigh in.  The tension built, the air began to dance in heat waves, the anger and stubbornness was so intense.

“Excuse me.” And a frail, small, old woman, dressed like she had just come from church, her purse straps draped over the silk sleeve of her shiny, impossibly white blouse. In her cart was a watering can adorned with plastic flowers, a hand rake and a small bag of candy. With the imperious, demanding air of a school teacher she parted the masses. Moving to the side, their heads bowed in shame.

And, she forced both men to shove their heavy, difficult, unwieldy carts to the side. She walked past both of them without saying a word, and you could sense the heated rise of embarrassment enveloping them, turning their faces red.

Traffic began to flow, and both men waited patiently then took their turn going through the small opening.

Tune in for the exciting conclusion, when we check out at the self serve register.