Monday, February 27, 2006

Does Not Play Well With Others

The following is a tale so chilling - so frightening -, that it is only now, some months after the events have unfolded, that the story can be told.'s actually a post from December that I never got around to putting up.

Happy now?


I've come to the conclusion that people annoy the crap out of me.

No, really.

Why are you laughing?

OK, OK...I know that my all consuming hatred deep dislike of crowds is near legendary. The fact that I hate talking to complete strangers, even for something as simple as asking what time it is (& no, this is not some macho I-don't-need-no-steeenkin'-help-from-nobody thing) is a given. That I cringe at church when they do the turn-&-greet-your-neighbor thing is pretty well known as well.

The story I'm about to relate to you this time, though, Loyal Readers, is not about a merely uncomfortable, close proximity, stuck-in-the-elevator, one-on-one situation. I'm not talking about your run-of-the-mill Market Night crowds, either. I'm talking writhing, seething, undulating masses of people. Times & places where it feels like the entire population of a decent sized metropolis has converged on the very spot that I'm standing. Allow me to elaborate.

T sent me to Maul-Mart one Sunday last Christmas Season with a relatively small list of things needed there. Of course, she knows how much I absolutely loathe the Redlands Maul-Mart, even on a good day. I'd rather be subjected to a muti-part discourse on the effects of pygmy goat molestation on the economy, hosted by a panel consisting of Rita Crosby, Nancy Grace & Jim Cramer (am I the only one who thinks that Rita Crosby looks & sounds like Will Ferrell in drag? Take a good look at her - I defy you to not see the similarities), than go anywhere near Maul-Mart in December. Throw retarded Christmas shoppers into the mix & it's a recipe for disaster.

Anyway, The Boy & I pulled into the parking lot & I decided to take the first available spot (since usually it's an exercise in futility to try to find a parking space close to the entrance) - which was roughly 33 miles from the store. Of course, as we're walking closer to the mouth of Hell, several parking spots became available. The story of my life, Loyal Readers.

One of the things on my to-do list was to drop off film at the 1-hour processor in the store. After seeing the 10 people deep line there, I made the executive decision to go somewhere else for my photo developing needs (I believe my exact declaration was "Screw this!") & proceeded to the cart corral - only to find that every single cart in the place was gone. The Boy went out to retrieve one while I made a pitstop. I walked into the l'il pardners room, only to find about 5-7 other patrons in there. I went about my business as quickly as possible, all the while cursing the store under my breath. I made my way back only to find that The Boy still hadn't returned with a cart. A couple minutes later, he showed up, saying that he had to go clear down to the garden department to find one. Having finally acquired our chariot, we made our way into the fray.

Of course, we could only move about 3 paces & then had to stop while someone stopped to look at a bubblegum display on an endcap.

Our first stop was the pharmacy. It's here that I found out that the Maul-Mart pharmacy closes at 5p on Sundays. And they also stop processing prescriptions at about 4p. This was unpleasant news for the gentleman in front of me, who made it clear to the pharmacist that he had to have this prescription today. No amount of telling this man "No, we can't get this filled tonight" would sway him (somehow, I get the feeling that, since doctors are closed on Sundays, he'd probably had the prescription order since Friday!). Almost ready to admit defeat, but still trying to persuade the tech to fill his order, I took the initiative & suggested that he go to one of the local 24-frickin'-hour pharmacies scattered about the area.

I finally made it to the counter & handed the tech my prescription slip & told her that I understood that it couldn't be filled tonight, that my wife would come back on the next day to pick it up. At this point, they could've filled the prescription with Tic-Tac's & I would've been happy (since this was T's birth control, I doubt she would've shared my elation. Her breath would've been minty fresh, though.).

After grabbing the few items that we came for, we made our way back to the front of the store to check out. We were greeted with lines that were, no kidding, about 10 people deep. So, with a second "Screw this!", we made our way to the electronics department, looking for a shorter line & a quick exit from shopping Hell. We walked in to the extremely small department, only to find another line 10 people deep.

It was at this exact moment that you could hear something snap inside of me. My eye started twitching. I started speaking in tongues. I was frothing at the mouth. If I could've done it (which I believe that, at the time, I could've), I would've squirted fire. I was ready to commit several major felonies against the shoppers at Maul-Mart.

As I tried to turn around to get out, at least 3 times someone shoved a cart in my way. At that point, in a Hulk-like fury, I literally lifted the cart & swung it around in an attempt to leave the electronics department. If I would've had the room, I'm sure I could've lifted the cart over my head & flung it clear into the tire department.

With The Boy trying to keep up behind me, telling me that I needed to calm down (which probably wasn't the most opportune time to point that out to me), we made our way to the sporting goods department. I was going to get out of that place with my White Cloud toilet paper, dagnabbit, even if I had to go to every friggin' department to find a short line!

We made it back to sporting goods to find a line of about 3 people, which was, given the crowds at the other lines, quite doable. Shaking with rage, I made my way up to the counter, eyeing the shotguns & imagining all of the line-clearing mayhem one of those babies could inflict. As I unloaded my cart, I said to the clerk "I'll bet you hear this all the time, but I really hate this place." "I hear that all the time from people who work here," he replied. "Yes," I said,"but at least you get paid to be here!"

incidentally, The Boy & I went to Target to develop our film. While there was a bit of a Christmas rush going on there, I still managed to get my film & T's present without once feeling the need to pummel someone.

Or squirt fire.

Which, when you think about it, is a very good thing.