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Hurry Up and Wait

Personal space is usually invaded, cell phone etiquette is often forgotten and counter help sometimes lacks a sense of urgency. While waiting in line and dealing with your fellow man, watch, predict and plan, then accept, relax and enjoy the ride home.

I’d rather watch paint dry than deal with the Saturday morning routine of errands. Tasks you were unable to accomplish during the week are jotted down on the back of old receipts or added as misspelled line items on your digital device. Visits to the grocery store, dry cleaners, Costco, the gas station, Target, the mechanic and the post office are often just part of the list.

The interest in writing this piece came from a quick, 20-second, cathartic phone call from my frustrated and colorful friend, Chris. Her condensed Saturday morning experience of errand running was seasoned with profanity and candid humor. “Great idea for your column – gotta go!”

How many times do we run out on errands with a time limit, only to wait in line? Granted, some people look forward to the tasks and satisfy their feelings of accomplishment by crossing off each victory. But you may be someone who doesn’t enjoy the tedious roadblocks of living.  

Being a Saturday, I too ventured out to accomplish my hastily written list of duties. Hey, it was a sunny day and my daughter decided to tag along. We’ll grab lunch and enjoy the afternoon. How bad could it be?

As we approached the Target parking lot in Enfield, I soon began to share Chris’ sentiments. We all know and despise the engineering of that parking lot. Even on a slow day, feelings of claustrophobia and frustration replace the June Cleaver mentality of mother-daughter time.  

Although my daughter objected, my parking lot etiquette diminished. I took my chances with the “Reserved for Phone In & Catering Pick Up” spot. I’m confident the Enfield Mall cops are none the wiser.

We walk into Panera and the order line stretched to the double-door. Not one seat was available. Mothers in line were sending children out to salvage seats, like seagulls discovering pieces of day old bread. It resembled a particularly cruel game of musical chairs.

We unanimously decided to forgo lunch and hit Target. Our second attempt at line manipulation would only suffer by comparison. When our necessities were collected, the routine of careful line selection began.

Do we wait behind the woman buying crib mattresses along with the Sex and the City DVD collection? We knew to avoid the line with defeated mother, screaming baby and opinionated toddler opening “free candy.” After much consideration, the elderly gentleman buying a single bag of birdseed seemed the better choice.

Yet again, my choice was inaccurate. The crib-mattress matron defeated the birdseed patriarch.

Visibly annoyed, my daughter and I exited Target. As we pass through the crosswalk we’re suddenly stalked by a minivan sporting a multitude of bumper stickers. By the driver's slow acceleration and unfriendly eye contact, it’s apparent she’s following us for our much-desired parking spot. With each step, my annoyance quickly changes to satisfaction – satisfaction with her yet-to-be-determined disappointment.

As I back up, she realizes the unsuitability of my parking spot. Her minivan – and her plethora of bumper stickers – chose to park elsewhere. It was a sick and immature revelation that provided a temporary Zen moment.

The post office is another prime location to hurry up and wait. I never understood why one register is open while the line accumulates. An occasional head pops out to say “Anyone in line to pick up packages or hold mail?” When no one steps forward, instead of opening another register, the questioner retreats to the back. Distant sounds of unrelated laughter and the Gerry Rafferty tune “Baker Street” are faintly heard.

Although the postal worker means well, the nine people in line would rather not hear of his recent adventure to Anchorage.

With “Baker Street” stuck in my head, I jump back into the car. The gas light illuminates.

With the increase in gas prices, I’ve resorted to purchasing gas at Costco – along with everyone in Enfield. We wait, and wait, in the one-direction gas station. Since I was driving my husbands' car, I failed to recognize the tank being on the opposite side. Maneuvering that mistake disappointed many.

For suffering through the redundant hurry-up-and-wait format, a reward – specifically, Starbucks – was in order. After waiting in numerous lines throughout the day, caffeine is unnaturally settling. Yet, while waiting for my iced espresso drink, I decided to make a quick trip to the restroom. With the crowded space, I walk sideways, suck in my stomach and tap shoulders to make way for the restroom door.

I reach for the doorknob – it's locked. Since my drink had yet to be made, I decided to hurry up and wait. And wait. And wait. I notice my daughter reading the headlines of leftover newspapers. I began pondering my urgency. I imagine a female digesting her brunch of Huevos Rancheros caused the delay. Most women get in, wash up and get out. Do I really want to wait and be silently and falsely accused of such a serious travesty?

My daughter looks up from her newspaper and laughs. It was at that moment my annoyance took an opposite turn. Suddenly, it wasn’t that important. We grabbed our overpriced reward and headed home.

Chris’ experiences, mentioned in her phone call, had become a familiar reality. Running errands on the weekend along with your child birthed are the easiest pains to forget. It’s not until you do it again that you realize how unpleasant it truly is. Whether it’s managed by an epidural or high doses of caffeine, we’ll forever hurry up and wait – to distant sounds of “Baker Street.”

Christine April 01, 2011 at 12:44 PM
That article was great as usual!! Interestingly, you have captured my sentiments on the subject exactly. I think my favorite part was the "stalking minivan" only to be disappointed by your choice of parking spot! HA! love it. Daniel is right, "Hey, it was a sunny day...." But what good is a sunny day when you spend most of it indoors waiting on lines? :)
Cami Beiter April 01, 2011 at 12:57 PM
Thanks! I'll ask Perry to repair the H-E- double-hockey sticks. Glad you enjoyed it!
Wendy Pierman Mitzel April 01, 2011 at 01:09 PM
The gas tank location mishap is classic - sometimes I try to avoid the lines by thinking I can drag the hose all the way over the top of the minivan - fyi- that NEVER works! Fun Cami!
Daniel K. Kehoe April 01, 2011 at 01:22 PM
Thank you Cami!
Susi April 01, 2011 at 01:44 PM
Ah....the cribmattress....I would have stuck with the elderly bird lover too. Fun. This reminds me why I am so grateful to do my errands during the week. Weekends are a special torture.
Bill Ambrosini April 01, 2011 at 04:18 PM
I enjoy running the errands on the weekend. My motives are not pure however. My kids refuse to go and it's a couple of hours where I can have some time to myself. All of the lines and rude people are annoying, but I usually go into people watching mode so I can bear it. I love hanging out with the kids, but it's nice to have a small slice of my weekend away from refereeing them at home.
Ron Peterson April 01, 2011 at 04:27 PM
Cami: Your problem with the gas line reminded me of an instance many years ago, when I was home and Gerry was with our young son. A deep snowstorm buried the East Coast and Gerry spent nearly a half-hour digging out the wheels of her car to get to an appointment. Needless to say, she dug out the back wheels and our new car had a front-wheel drive. She didn't make that appointment.
Susi April 01, 2011 at 05:40 PM
Bill, you are genius! Alone???? worth all the hassle for an hour or two. Thank you.
John O'Mahony April 01, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Had me smiling as always...Thanks C
Patricia Gaglioti April 01, 2011 at 07:27 PM
Cami, so true. We're all nodding our heads and laughing..... been there. You say it like it is.... Loved it!
Danna Gauntner April 02, 2011 at 05:40 PM
Target parking tip...park outside of the Macy's Home store, always lots of spaces, plus a nice clean large rest room in the china area of Macy's...zip through Macy's and straight down the hall to Target, you miss all the craziness from the parking lot on the other side. Thanks for another great article loved the photo too!
Cami Beiter April 03, 2011 at 12:13 AM
Thanks Danna! Any tips with the Enfield Target parking lot are appreciated. Thank you, thank you!

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