Yesterday morning I went shopping. I suppose that the order in which I go to stores plays a part in my overall shopping experience. I began at Kohls because I have a coupon (30%!) and because I knew more or less what I wanted. On my way home I remembered that I needed 8 beach balls for an event with some guys from church the next morning (this morning) so I decided to go to the HEB Plus, rather than my nice little HEB grocery store around the corner from my apartment because they'd be more likely to have beach balls.
Once I got inside the store I was greeted by their electronics department. Why a grocery store needs an electronics department I'll never know; especially when there's a Best Buy so close with whom they can't hope to compete. But, the racket and lights from that section greeted me as I walked by with my basket. I saw a bin of movies for $6.99 and up, and I glanced through them. Mostly they were sequels of formulaic movies that I wouldn't have cared for in the first place, but it doesn't hurt to look. As I continued along my way I was getting jostled by the people in there. I suppose a huge grocery store on Saturday I should expect to be busy, and I would have actually expected it to be busier.
I started to look for the beach balls first so that I wouldn't forget them. (I am I, after all.) I looked through their seasonal stuff and I saw floating things to go on kids' arms and other air-related items, but I couldn't find beach balls. That was irritating and it was more irritating that I couldn't find anybody to help me.
At the meat market there is a small kitchen and the chef there has a microphone and she was VERY excited about what they were cooking that day. I don't think that I'm just being too sensitive when I say that she was being too pushy;she was definitely too loud. I managed to get around to the ground beef and as I was looking for what I wanted two different people stepped in front of me to pick something out. As I walked through the store looking for the rest of the things on my list I was passing endcaps and bins of marked down movies and toys and a TV set up in the middle of the aisle playing new releases that they had on sale and I just needed a few things like napkins and cream and ground beef, but every time turned around there was some display screaming at me visually and the music and occasional announcements screaming at me literally. Employees were offering samples, which is nice enough, but they rather blocked the flow of people. I began to imagine a sinister Disney-type movie with the staff and products in the store singing and dancing for my attention and everybody wanting me to have a good time with this or that new electronics product, whether I wanted it or not, and I was getting pushed around and clinging to my basket as ear phones danced in front of me, twirling arm-in-arm with video games, all the while taunting me because I'm not cool enough to spend my hard-earned money on the latest gadgets and shiny things. In the cartoon in my mind I kept saying that I just needed a few things on my list, while some insipid product tried to grab my hand. An austere looking older woman with a triangular face said darkly to the man beside her, "Get that list."
I stopped at the deli to get sliced turkey breast and people were pushing past me, walking in front of me without any consideration while talking with each other very loudly over the general noise pollution. Kids were running around, literally running. There were people waiting at the deli for help, but not too many, especially for a Saturday; and people behind the counter were actually very nice – not like Julio at my little HEB who knows what kind of meat I like and how I like it cut and who likes to suggest different types of meat for me to try and who will shake my hand when he sees me on this side of the counter – but they were pleasant enough.
I finally found somebody to help me with the beach balls. It turns out they were where I had originally looked; I just couldn't see them between all of the other recreational floating devises. There weren't lines to speak of at the registers – thank God because I might have had to leave my basket. The cashier asked if I needed anything else and I told her a glass of wine and a Xanax. She gave a small explosive laugh and I was on my way. In the car on my way home the first song I heard was Cough Syrup, by Young the Giant. It seemed strangely appropriate. Go listen to it.
All I could think of on the way home is that they are going to tear down my little HEB and open an HEB Plus in its place and this is all I'm going to have to look forward to. It's a little like one of those ghastly old church songs, They Tore the Old Country Church Down (Built a big new church way uptown...). It seems a little like people have become so accustomed to environments like this, and at the same time people are becoming accustomed to the increasing prevalence of mood-altering prescription medication. It's an American adage that necessity is the mother of invention. Calvin (from the cartoon Calvin and Hobbs) says that mothers are the necessity of invention. This is the kind of turn-around that I feel is happening. Don't try to fight the slow march of progress, and at the same time pharmaceutical companies are creating a market for themselves. I, for one, think that mood-altering medications should only be taken recreationally. I prefer to avoid any true anxiety.
|My cat's take on the situation|