I conduct nearly all of my shopping online. The only brick and mortar structure I walk into any more is the liquor store. Other than booze, I buy everything via the internet which helps save money and prevents human interaction. This morning I used the last of my tooth paste and had nothing to feed my two hungry cats. I could get by without tooth paste for the two days it takes Amazon to ship orders to my home, but unfortunately I couldn’t let my cats go that long without eating.
Tooth paste and cat food, two things I can easily get at the super market next to my office on my lunch break. My inability to keep inventory on my household goods forced me into a hell that I hadn’t experienced in a long time.
I began to understand the full consequences of my mistake when I saw the sea of cars that filled the super market parking lot. After parking into one of the last spots, I made my final decent into hell. I was greeted inside the store by an impossibly old employee who instead of saying “welcome” or “happy holidays” like he is supposed to do, asked “where is your coat?”
I don’t wear coats, even in the winter. Right now in Michigan the temperate is in the single digits (Fahrenheit) and it is definitely cold. But I am only outside for a maximum of 3 minutes every day. It takes me 30 seconds to walk to my car in the morning, a minute to walk into work, and a minute to walk to my car after work. I wear three layers of shirts every day, a tee shirt, a long sleeve button down, and a sweater vest. Plus I have about 100 pounds of extra fat insulating my core. It’s not like I am walking around in a tank top in the middle of winter, I have more than enough clothing to survive my short journeys outside.
Similar to not eating free food, not wearing a coat in the winter forces everyone (especially old people) to inquire why. Last week when I walked into work I ran into a co-worker in the parking lot and instead of walking in silence, I was interrogated to why I wasn’t wearing a coat. The concern in his voice would suggest I was walking while pointing a gun at my own head. I explained to him that the effort and time spent dressing like I was going to climb Mount Everest was not worth the little bit of extra warmth I would feel in the minute I spent exposed to the elements walking into work.
“But what if you slide off the road in your car? You could be outside for a long time.”
“That’s a risk I am willing to take,” I sighed. He was no longer concerned after I said this, his tone changed to disappointment and resentment as he muttered “well, ok” using his heavily gloved hand to open the door to the office for me.
After I resisted the urge to RKO the old greeter into the kiosk of candy canes behind him, I grabbed a shopping cart and ignored his question. The super market was swarmed with people finishing up their Christmas shopping and gathering groceries for the Christmas holiday. I was in the store for only 30 seconds before I was forced into a halt behind a mother and her baby who were looking at sale items in the center isle of the store. Once the oncoming traffic opened up I quickly passed the oblivious mother and continued towards the pet supplies.
Once I reached the cat food isle, I encountered my second obstacle. Two old ladies were leaning on their over filled grocery carts doing something I have so much trouble with, interacting socially. They clearly knew each other and were catching up as they blocked any path a person looking for cat food could take. I shuffled my empty cart up to the two women who apparently were so engrossed in their conversation they didn’t notice me. I awkwardly stood there behind my cart doing everything I could to ignore what they were discussing as it probably involved small talk that would send me into insanity. It took another cat owning woman to enter the area to break the talking trance the women were in to realize they were blocking the cat food.
With the cheapest bag of cat food in my cart, I trekked across the store to the tooth paste isle. During my journey I saw people huddled over a $5 DVD kiosk, looking at super hero themed kids clothing and gaudy Christmas decorations.
As I approached the tooth care isle, I knew what kind of tooth paste I wanted to buy. I understand that it is weird that I have loyalty to a tooth paste brand, but I like purchasing overpriced pronamel tooth paste as it makes me feel like I am rebuilding my eroded enamel from years of drinking diet soda (I know if doesn’t actually work as advertised). Only one old man was in the isle and of course, was blocking the pronamel tooth paste.
Whatever, bad luck, not that big of deal. Instead of talking to him and asking him to hand me a tube of pronamel, I took a trip around that block of the store hoping he would be gone by the time I returned. I waddled around three isles taking at least 3 minutes to loop back around to the tooth care supplies. When I reentered the isle, the man remained in the same location transfixed with decision fatigue over what fucking tooth paste he should buy. How can it possibly take 3 minutes to make that decision?
I slowly shuffled up to the area, cleared my throat and asked “excuse me, could you hand be a tube of the pronamel tooth paste there in front of you?”
He lifted his head and looked at me. His he used the saggy skin on his face to form a smile and said “why yes young man, I can.” Instead of reaching for a tube of pronamel, he stood there smiling at me with his stupid grin. Slowly realizing that this shopping trip is becoming a horrifying nightmare, I stood there with my cat food not sure what to do.
“Would you like me to hand you one?” he asked in a condescending tone which lead me to believe the smile was formed out of sarcasm.
“Um yes, please,” I said confused.
He reached his small hand to the shelf, grabbed a tube of pronamel and handed it to me, no longer smiling.
“Here you go, you’re welcome,” he said as resumed staring at the tooth paste.
What the fuck? Without even trying to figure out what the ancient creature was getting at, I evacuated the area and made my way to the check out. Day ruined.