Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – November 22, 2004
Crowds Of People
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – November 22, 2004 – It’s back again – “The pre-Christmas out-in-the-afternoon so you don’t get caught later on shopping with a billion other people time”. Big and I met at IKEA around 1:30 so I could return a defective thingie. We wandered around for awhile with a few items in our collective cart and then, unlike ideal shoppers, we returned them all to their respective shelves and left empty handed.
We had bigger fish to fry. Said fish were at the annual Ashley’s warehouse sale. We arrived about three o’clock, having been told by Big’s sister Paula, that it was a good time to go. We squeaked into the $5.00 parking lot and dashed across the street to the main entrance. Once inside, we (wisely) took a cart each and set out through the aisles to check out the wares.
Almost immediately I found a low, square serving dish for Dorothy and snapped it up. She already has the square plates in the same clear glass style, which she uses all the time and absolutely loves. I know she’ll be thrilled. Heck – I’m thrilled. I love it when a gift I’m giving is one that will be received with genuine enthusiasm. How many times have you opened a package and looked at a gift and said “wow” and thought “what in hell were you thinking?” Of course that’s never happened to me.
I was still smugly enjoying my little dish triumph, when a cart pushed by a crazed woman with red hair and too many teeth smashed into my back. “Oh” she said, “I’m sorry I didn’t see you”. I smiled ever so sweetly and said, “Better be careful there are hundreds of other people around here you may not see either – we’re everywhere”. I straightened out my cart and proceeded along the aisle to the corner, in case “Red” belatedly recognized the sarcasm in my voice and was anxious to give me another bashing.
I have never been able to figure out why people walk along at a pleasant clip and then just stop. No gradual slow down – no hand signal – no “Whoa Nellie” – just a dead stop. I wonder if they do the same thing in their cars. If so, it would explain in part, why there are so many fender-benders. Once I’m cart pushing at an acceptable speed, a premature stopper, is an incredibly annoying thing. I had a couple of close calls myself, but managed to stop short of a really good bash.
I nipped Big’s ankle once about an hour after we arrived. Big however scored a perfect take down of a surly woman right at the end of our shopping experience. Big apologized profusely – Surly Woman bent over in real or imagined anguish (drama queen). The steady stream of shoppers pushed froward, carrying us past our injured sister – now in full shopping distress. Other than that, the pedestrian traffic was uneventful. It was too crowded for my liking, but still manageable. I can only imagine what it will be like on the week-ends. The riot police must be on call.
We wandered past every conceivable do-dad known to human kind. I resisted at every turn, intent on finding wonderful gifts only. Stuff held no interest for me – I was in search of crystal. After a reasonable perusal of the display items, and trips up and down too many aisles to recall, we arrived at the Royal Copenhagen, Kosta Boda and Orrefors section. Now, this is where I can really shine. I like and appreciate quality items.
My cart was soon brimming with bowls and candle holders – beautiful gifts for the special people I like to recognize during the holiday season. I mentioned to Big how easy it would be to use a piece of crystal as a weapon. When I was a kid, I had a game called Clue. With one of these heavy bowls, it would be completely believable to arrive at the conclusion of a Clue game that “Big did it in the library with a crystal candy dish”. Then cleverly run through the hot cycle in the dishwasher, said weapon could be then be returned to the china cabinet, by the beastly Big. Holmes, Watson and Inspector Clousseau would be none the wiser.
My gift list was now considerably shorter, the crowds were denser, Big and I were getting less patient with idiot cart pushers and silly aisle stoppers, so it was time to head for the cashier’s line up. A woman, with the qualifications of a drill sergeant uttered three words – “cash or card” and then whisked us along to aisle 6 where we were processed and dismissed with alarming alacrity. One more stop with the “bag boys”, a nod to the presiding police man and we were out the door.
Just enough time for a coke and a Polish sausage on a bun, while sitting in Big’s car, and then it was home to feed the ever-patient Alphabet Boys. Not a bad return for enduring three hours in a crowded warehouse sale. Half of my holiday shopping is done. If I just can polish off the other half with the same ease, I’ll be a happy camper (and I don’t even own a tent).