I see this as an opportunity. I fire up the B-1100 and head over knowing that I can’t return home with a pallet of toilet paper or a fifty-five gallon drum of dry-roast mixed nuts since I can strap neither to the bike.
BAD THINKING. Forgotten in my logic is that this is the heart of the holiday shopping circus. Within a half mile of my destination, I begin to know what cholesterol must do to the circulatory system. Almost nothing is moving. Instantaneously I am blocked from the rear. I look at the long line of automobiles stretching ahead, behind and around suburban curves and rethink Carl Sagan’s use of the term “billions and billions.”
Twenty minutes elapse before I make it to the parking lot. No space is empty, even in the farthest reaches. Spaces only come available. The traffic line creeps. I feel more than vulnerable on my little bike. Shoppers departing back blindly from spaces in cars loaded to the headliner with cases of soda and bubble water and motor oil, bales of paper towels, multipacks of deodorants and shampoos, lugs of cantaloupes and gunny sacks of oranges or walnuts. Steel shopping carts the size of three-quarter ton pickup trucks drift driverlessly across the tarmac seeking the nearest low spot or newest new car to ding.
Once inside, the behaviors continue. Many customers engage in an activity known to me as “the Costco Walk.” Aisles in these stores are wide; ample room exists for folks to push their pick-up sized baskets or flats all the way to the back of the store unimpeded except when the come up behind someone engaged in the Costco Walk.
I hang a left taking a narrow passage between discount books and discount socks/underwear. But toward the end of the alley, a Costco Walker is sampling Peruvian dried apricots. Someone pulls up right behind me and begins to thumb through the latest James Patterson novel. As in the parking lot ten minutes before, I am trapped, blocked, almost incarcerated. The rattle of carts, the nagging of partners, the impatience of children riding in baskets, the drone of holiday music – in short, the sounds of the commerce that makes this country great – begins to pound on me. I think of the classic horror movie trailer line: “What if you screamed but no one could hear you?”
I ARRIVE AT THE PHOTO COUNTER only to discover that the pictures are not ready. Developing services need to be prepaid and we hadn’t done that on line.
Church of the Open Road Press