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.”