I was forced to venture into a store between Thanksgiving and New Years. That’s the commercial dead zone! A time when I barely leave the homestead! The store was infested with Christmas shoppers.
Sometimes you’ve got to go into the belly of the beast.
I made a plan.
I had a target. A short succinct list. I had a order of operations. I had moxie. I was going to get in, get what I wanted, and get out. I’d be on the road before my presence was noticed. This was going to be a surgical strike operation. I put more effort into my exit strategy than Bush did in Iraq.
Of course I was doomed.
It was (in my eyes) a wretched hive of scum and villainy. It was where the one ring to rule them all was forged. It was the street scene from the Blade Runner.
The parking lot was NASCAR crossed with AARP.
The rent a cop at the door was hollow and bereft of life. A zombie mall cop. I should have killed him in mercy. He looked like he’d have thanked me.
The musak was on a loop. Grandma got run over by silver bells. I won’t be home for Feliz Navidad. I think I started hallucinating.
The damn store mugged me. I got turned around. The party split up. Despite my intention to buy no more than we could carry, a shopping cart appeared and stared filling itself. The troops were wandering to and fro in the dazzling glimmer of commercialism and I was constantly jockeying toward the exit looking wild eyed and rabid. I even made a $2 impulse buy. (Shocking!)
I finally rounded up everyone and made a run for the exit. They got hung up at the checkout. Man down! Money being vaporized! Hit the deck!
I’m not the Marines…I left them behind.
A few minutes later they lurched out of the door. I was idling the getaway car. I zoomed up like an anti-commercial extraction force. Ten seconds later we were rocketing down the road. Whew!
We’d blown a middling amount of money. That is to say a tiny fraction of the average shopper. In fact this never fails to shock me: During evasive maneuvers though the checkout I glanced at the display on several tellers. Frankly Americans are monster good at spending money. We were in the bottom tail end of a distribution that belies any thought of a recession. How much shit can people conceivably buy?
All of our purchases were on rational things at fair prices. Which is to say stuff I’d probably wind up buying sooner or later and stuff that I couldn’t get cheaper elsewhere.
Sadly none of it was spent on meat, tools, ammo, liquor, or fuel…thus I conclude it wasn’t strictly necessary.*
At least we got out alive.
I needed to recuperate. I talked to my dog and then spent some quality time with my wood splitter. A couple hours stacking oak and I was too tired to be jangled. I felt like a normal human being again. Then a dinner of venison. Huzzah! Followed by a quiet evening by the fire. Perhaps my evening drink had a dollop of whatever the hell happened to be in the back of my liquor cabinet.** Ah yes…life is good.
I’m not going into another damn store for several weeks. The economy will have to muddle on without me.
* My list of that which is strictly necessary is a bit… uh… short. I’ll allow that we’d be wise to go beyond it occasionally; lest I go all Mosquito Coast.
** My usually ample liquor supply has not been adequately replenished the last several months. Poor form! What shall I do if the zombie apocalypse happens and I’m out of whiskey?!? It wouldn’t do to let my preparedness falter. After the holidays I’d better attend to the matter.