Tar-jay, How I Loved Thee
April 6, 2006
I grew up in a smallish city, went to college in a big city… and then another college in another big city. And even though I now live in a ruralish town of 1000 I still think of myself as more of a city person, a displaced city person.
I realized yesterday that I most definitely am NOT a city girl. Excuse me while I pick the hayseeds out of my hair.
I came to this realization when I went to Target in the smallish city.
First off the Target is a multi level complex with it’s own parking garage. I pulled into the parking garage and promptly rammed the roof of my big van into the hanging pole with the height restriction written on it. Then I had to wait for the huge line of cars behind me to back up one by one so that I could back up. Let’s just say driving my big van in reverse is not one of my strong points, and if you could see my front lawn, or talk to my husband, you’d know this. Nothing says country bumpkin quite like not being able to fit your vehicle into the garage.
I was then directed to park in this small, dark side lot where the reject vehicles must park. It was empty, dark and scary. Nothing says country bumpkin quite like being scared of an innocuous parking garage. In the country we park outside! In an open parking lot! The way God intended!
But I had my sights set on the bulls eye and would not be deterred.
I walked really quickly to the elevator that would bring me up to the store. I got on the elevator and realized that there were two shopping floors in this Target. Yes, two full floors! Two full floors of things I didn’t know I needed and yet now cannot possibly live without. I was in the elevator with three men. I smiled, “Hi. How are you?” I said to the one who made eye contact with me. They all looked at me as if I were a complete nutcase, gave me a cursory nod, and went back to examining the floor, walls, and ceiling. I forgot, city people don’t make eye contact with strangers or …gasp… talk to them. Nothing says country bumpkin quite like talking to strangers.
When the elevator doors opened I gasped, so great was my delight. I had to hold onto the wall to steady myself.
This Target was unlike any I have ever seen. To say it was huge would be an understatement. I imagine I must have looked like a country girl who goes into the big city, stands in the middle of the sidewalk, looking up at the skyline, mouth hanging open… except that I was in Target, looking at housewares, and the throngs of people I was holding up were shoppers trying to get off the elevators.
I walked around looking at stuff. I had really gone in to buy the kids Easter stuff and realized it was on the second floor. In the center of the store was an escalator. And there was a separate escalator for your cart. I have never seen such a thing. I stood there for a few minutes looking at it. If I had my camera I would have taken a picture of it, completing the country bumpkin image. I couldn’t figure it out, and, since city people don’t talk to strangers or offer help of any kind, I took my things out of the cart and carried them up to the second floor on the people escalator. My new welcome mat was filled with shame, hoping the other housewares didn’t see it.
I found all the Easter stuff and filled my cart with it, as well as other things that just jumped in there to keep the welcome mat company. Once my cart was filled to the top, I went to the check out. That part of the experience was just like it is at home. Surly teenager with a poor attitude tossing my stuff without care into plastic bags. It warmed my heart to know that some things are universal.
I got in the elevator with my cart to go back down to the parking garage. I was still very pleased with my Target experience. I went push my cart out the door and the wheels on the cart locked up. Not to be deterred I pushed and shoved and bent down to examine the wheels. I wondered if I was on Candid camera and looked around for Allen Funt, before realizing he was dead. I was confused and bewildered. Why was my cart no longer working? The city people offered no help or comments and just pushed past me, letting the door shut in my face.
I dragged my cart with it’s unmoving wheels off to the side and that is when I noticed the sign. The sign that said carts are not allowed to leave the building and once you reach this point the wheels will lock up, rendering the cart as useful as, well, a heavy, metal cart with no wheels. If I had my camera I would definitely have taken a picture of the sign.
I stood there for a few minutes, and I’ll admit I said “What the fuckity fuck?” so great was my exasperation at this situation. But those city folk, they didn’t even seem to hear me… or notice me … with my big overflowing metal albatross. And none of them offered any assistance. There was no one standing at the door to help you bring your purchases to your vehicle like at home.
So I put the plastic bags on my arms and marveled at how heavy jellybeans are when you buy twenty bags or so of them. And I walked out of the store, the flesh being torn off of my forearms. But that was okay since I was also losing feeling in my arms because the plastic handles were cutting off the circulation.
And really it was all worth it, because it was Target.
I walk to my van, in the scary, dark, deserted parking area. Open the back doors and begin tossing the stuff in.
(Have I ever mentioned that I startle easily? No, well I do. It drives Rob crazy because I scream involuntarily whenever I am startled.)
Anyway, there I am half in the back of my van when I hear, “Hey!”
I turn around and there is a man standing about 2ft away from me. I let out a blood curdling scream. He jumped back through the air a few feet, startled by my scream.
“What do you want?” I asked, and not in a friendly sort of way. More like a I’ll cut you if you answer me wrong way.
“I, uh, was trying to get you attention for awhile now.” he said looking around.
“Why? What do you want?”
“Uh, is there an elevator in this direction?”
“I have no idea.” I answered. Got into my van and slammed the door. I still have my bitchy city girl ways lurking under the surface I suppose. But I’m a big believer in listening to that inner voice.
(The more I thought about the exchange later, the weirder the incident seemed. Why would you follow a woman from the entrance, the well lit entrance where the elevators are shining like a beacon through the dark parking garage?)
I drove off, out of the parking garage, and was stopped by the booth with the wooden arm blocking my path. I had to pay for the privilege of parking. “Where I live parking is like our air, clean and free. Yessirree. Just like the good Lord intended it to be. ” And then I replaced the hay stalk in my mouth, adjusted the bib on my overalls, and drove off.
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