Saturday, February 20, 2010

Into the Void

I learned something very important today.  Most of the time, while shopping amongst the aisles of one of my most favorite spots *Target* you usually worry about keeping an eye on your children.  Today was different.  I had gone to class, the girls were in school, and I went to get a myriad of things to prepare for the upcoming week.  Stuff for the house: kitty litter, 24 rolls of t.p., Method Tub & Tile Cleaner.  Stuff for the hospital: slippers, robe, duffel bag, new undies.  Essential kid stuff: ponytail holders for pigtails, string cheeses for snacking, a storage container for the hell of it.  Had my list, plugging along, and then everything just kind of came apart.   Yellow wallpaper anyone?

I left my basket to go look at curtain rods, got distracted talking to a nice older lady about "sheers", and then had about 20 minutes of trying to decide if I should use a regular curtain to disguise our messy pantry filled with old recycling, or use a shower curtain to do it.  I decided and then went to find my basket.  (Cue the Tatooine music from Star Wars...remember, when C3-PO & R2-D2 are in the desert with the sun BEATING down on them.)

After about 25 minutes of LOOKING for my basket, I began to feel somewhat bad.  A very worried kind of bad.  I had walked around the towels & pillows, kitchen wares, food aisles.  Around in circles, I mean, customers were looking at me passing them again and again.  Everyone was busy, talking on phones, and I just kept passing by, dazed.  I thought: Did I just forget where it was? I DID fill it up, right? I think I may have to ask someone to help, mentally help me.  I was saying all of these horrible things to myself (yes, the F-word again and again (quietly)).  I couldn't help dwelling on my condition -- was I under the influence of the tumor? Disoriented or just feeling sorry for myself? Was I completely confused in a public place? Did I just need to leave and try to find my way home? Am I conscious? Am I about to faint? Ethan?

I finally picked a Target employee to approach, in tears.  I said "Can I ask you a favor? I need your help."  She was worried, but I reassured her I was okay, just upset.  I continued: "You don't need to know the story of my life, but I am having a few health issues, and I was shopping and I have been looking for my basket for about 45 minutes and I can't find it anywhere, and I am just really confused and not sure what is going on...I am preparing to go into the hospital next week and I thought I was handling it but maybe I am not".


"Yes I did! Thank God! Do you have it?"

"OH, we found that basket over in *Blue World* and I took it to Guest Services.  They may be putting all that stuff back, they already did the refrigerated stuff but you can just go back and grab all that stuff you had some lunch meat and string cheeses some coffee but I may need to check on your slippers and 2 pairs of socks and that pack of underwear I'm pretty sure the litter and the scoop and the cat food is still in it I'll go grab your basket and bring it to you where will you be?"

"Uh, near the shower cleaners."

"OK, I'll bring it to you!"

This truly had been one of the worst moments of my life.  I had already been in there for about 90 minutes and now I had to retrace my steps to replace stuff taken out and already put back by Guest Services.  It was like being stuck in my own fresh hell...Yeats repeating in my sore head:

 Turning and turning in the widening gyre/The falcon cannot hear the falconer

(Okay I am exaggerating...)
I honestly did not leave my basket for that long -- in freakin' *Blue World* -- whatever the heck that means (bath stuff).  SO, don't forget this pathetic, sorry tale the next time you take your hands off of the handle of your basket.  A bored employee may think it has been abandoned...and take it into the void known as Guest Services which should be named something crueler.  Something like: "Guest Services: First you think you're going completely insane but it's really just a brain tumor! HA HA!!"

I did thank her.  That's really all I could get out.  I wanted to ask if they take baskets arbitrarily or if they time how long the baskets look abandoned, or if they just do it to be mean.  I had approached her at the edge of all my reason and sanity, a humiliating experience really.  But now it was fixed, the wheel jerked a minute, and the world kept turning.  There was normalcy in the relief.

Life won't stop!


  1. God, you are so poetic! Funny, terrifying, spot-on insightful into the mundane, and relieving all at once. There must have been a bored employee that day. I hate to think they do it to be mean. That quote from Yeats is so perfect. I so know that feeling. It's amazing what you're creating out of this experience. I will miss your writing when you go in for surgery. I hope you can write again not too long afterward.

  2. Cathy, this story has me limp with laughs, and Russ just told me to shut up so that he could hear his dad on the phone. I'm in awe of your ability to find these little epiphanies in the absurd--as if your tumour gives you special googles for making the same old world shine stranger, and brighter. I had a similar moment in the ASDA (read British Walmart, but anagram SAD-A, and more crowded). I just called Russ and told him I was having a panic attack. I found the basket eventually where I left it by the display of cut price baked beans. No 'Guest Services' here. I love you. Cait

  3. I completely understand. This exact thing has happened to me before. (the cart being taken part...not the brain part). I too questioned my sanity. I had no real explanation for my emotional response and lack of decision making skills about the whole ordeal. Once I was in the car and driving home I finally decided: I'm just at a higher level of crazy than other people.
    That's just it. I'm NUTS.
    You on the other hand...have every reason to be in skewed state of mind. I think it was a beautiful opera playing out for you. It's message...

  4. Aw, CAP... are them dang Target people making you think you're going crazy? (or as David would say right after the word crazy, "-er?" - as in crazier? He says, "I didn't make you crazy. You were that way when I found you.") :)

    That happened to me before too, in Target. Except I didn't have that much stuff in my basket, nor did I have a tumor in my nugget. And mine wasn't taken by the evil Guest Services, but by a heinous, entitled bitch who didn't have the foresight to get her own cart when she walked in to the store and was too lazy to go get her own when she realized she needed one. *AT CHRISTMAS!* I know! Geesh. (Another customer saw me looking around in a confused fashion, akin to what you must have looked like I imagine, and when I told her I was looking for my cart she pointed at the shelf and said "Is this your stuff? I saw some lady unloading it back on the shelf and figured she just didn't want it! What a bitch!" That's what I thought.)

    So, in a much less time-consuming and FAR less dramatic fashion, I feel your pain.

  5. ha ha! hilarious! I love you sweet cath... Sar

  6. Ha! I remember people yelling at us at B&N for "taking their books" or "hiding their books." Sadly, I remember these were the people we suspected were schizophrenic because none of us slackers were running around reshelving constantly (unless the DM was coming).


  7. "Epiphanies in the absurd"--love that.

  8. I think the cart return is a bomb watch thing...

  9. Good luck. My thoughts are with you.