By Susan Govern
Christmas is fast approaching…’tis the season for…many things, including shopping. Not just gift shopping, but also for food items – for baking pies, cookies, and the Christmas day dinner. All this means spending a good deal of time in parking lots, in stores and in check-out lines.
“Why can’t I ever _____?” is a question I ask myself over and over again through the holiday season. Why can’t I ever find a parking spot in the lot that looks open but just as I go to pull in, find a snow-plow has pushed a three foot mound of snow half way into it?
Why can’t I ever be completely lucky when it comes to getting a close parking spot to the store where I wish to shop instead of one that is clear across the street at the mattress store (which I have no intention of going into)?
And don’t get me started about spotting a convenient parking place, not too far from the store, with cars parked on either side just right so I could actually open my car door, only to go to pull in and discover other shoppers have left three or four carts in that spot instead of taking them to the cart return in the next aisle over. (Yes, last year that was me sitting there in my car in front of just such a parking spot at Target banging my head on my steering wheel.)
After finally parking the car and hiking to the store, next comes grabbing a shopping cart to begin my adventures inside.
(Here we go again.) Why can’t I ever…find a cart that has all four wheels in working order? That is – they will all want to go in the direction that I do. No such luck. Nine times out of ten I grab a cart that looks perfectly fine only to discover three feet past the entrance that two wheels want to go to the right, and two to the left, while I wish to proceed straight down the center aisle.
Making a quick u-turn (as quick as a semi truck would in my driveway), I return that cart and select a second one. A moment or two to test it, and it appears I have one with working wheels. One minute later as I see the heads of my fellow shoppers turning to stare at me, I realize that the loud screech & clicking sound is indeed coming from me – or rather – the cart I am piloting through the Housewares section.
Pretending not to notice the noise (as irritating as nails on a chalk-board) I finish my shopping and proceed to the check-out. Nearing the line of cashiers I can see that at one of busiest times of the year…where there are at least ten-plus registers, there are only four open.
Pausing a moment to assess the situation, I make a mental note that each of the four lines is as long as a line for a ride at Disney World, in July, on a Saturday. Resigning myself to just having to wait I try to pick the line that may only have a wait of about thirty minutes if I’m lucky. (Remember the parking lot and the cart selection?)
After waiting five or ten minutes, I usually notice a line two registers over is moving faster and seeing my chance – I move behind the last person in that line. Just as I do so, the next shopper (who is five people ahead of me) steps up to the cashier and I see they have two carts filled with items. You guessed right – my line I am in now slows to a crawl – and to make matters worse, looking back at the line I left, I notice that it is now moving along at “break-neck” speed and many other shoppers who are aware of it are now there preventing me from “jumping” back.
Forty-five to fifty minutes later I pay for my items and leave. Making my way through the parking lot, which is usually snowy and slushy, my cart stops making noise; instead getting stuck in the muck every two feet or so.
Eventually I reach my car and after stowing my bags in the back, I close the trunk and turn to grab my cart so I can properly return it to the nearby cart-corral. My trip to the store nearing the end, I make my way back to my waiting car just as someone comes faster than they should down the parking aisle.
As they drive past, I grit my teeth and think one last time – Why can’t I ever avoid getting splashed with snowy slush…just once…just once?!