The Day After Christmas
Ah… The joy of shopping a day after the Christmas holiday. After working for eight hours at my job, I was drafted into taking Savannah and Jared out in public so they could spend their gift cards. I do not get out much due to a number of reasons, and one of them is certainly due to the large number of people who obtain a limited amount of intelligence.
When deciding our first destination it was simple, the book store. Jared had four gift cards on him, three of them were for the same place. The three of us with little preparation, went on a ride to the first store. As I pulled into the crowded parking lot, my chest began to tighten, knowing that this was going to be crazy. The three of us walk into this bookstore one at a time right behind each other with that smell of paper tickling our senses. We were instantly surrounded by a large crowd of people just meandering around drinking coffee and pretending to read books. After spending about a half an hour following Jared around the store, he decided to buy a pair of wee Star Wars Storm-trooper figurines. As we walked out of the book store headed for the car, our next destination was the mall. A large area of land where a multitude of stores are so great, one's head would spin. I remember feeling a sense of calm as we drove out of that crowded parking lot. I thought at the time, the rest of our trip should be easy.
We drove across the street with ease. I instantly notice how busy outside the mall was, and felt myself tense. After finding a spot to park, we headed inside following Savannah. Walking into the clothing store, you begin to feel claustrophobic. Realizing the large amount of people walking around very slowly and confused. Jared and I were content to follow Savannah as we made our way through into the mall. Savannah was like a hound dog, just sniffing her way through, focused towards the first objective.
Savannah had gift cards for two clothing stores, a make-up store, and that sexy store we all know about. The first clothing store was a bust. Only trying on a couple of shirts, yet having doubts when viewed with a mirror. Leaving that store, our next destination was the sexy one. On an average day, Jared and I would be very reluctant in entering this kind of establishment – it is a man thing. With Savannah leading the way, she was like the golden ticket allowing us to follow in tow. Upon walking in, the large amount of people made this room seem so small. I am an educated man, but am afraid I do not have the vast amount of knowledge in regards to fire codes. I can say that this wee store was clearly overly populated and presented a fire hazard – it was just insane! While walking around, you would rub against a person, manikin, or some panties hanging on a rack. Savannah would mostly purchase lotions and perfumes – this time it was perfume and a loose top with spaghetti straps. The time in which our day became hectic, was while waiting in line with Savannah wanting to purchase her selected items. There were four lines to each cashier, with each one being about five to six people deep. The lines were filling fast, and we got in with about five people in front of us. Events that led to this point were smooth, with the time on my watch showing it was 5:15 in the evening. Three of the lines were moving forward, but slowly. Of all the lines to stand in, we were in the line that literally did not move. By the time I had realized our situation, there was no way we could simply move over to another line. There was this female employee standing towards the back like a Gestapo, Storm trooper making sure the lines were straight, and all new comers were forced towards the back. The cashier who was working our line was either new, or just dumber than a box of rocks. At about 5:25, she finished with the original group of people that were standing there when we arrived. Now the fourth in line, this cashier was showing signs of stress when starting on the next group that stepped forward. After switching cashiers when we were the third group in line, frustration intensified. We still did not move an inch due to the grumpy old woman in front of us. This woman looked to be well in her fifties, about five foot five, and heavy set. Standing there holding her infant granddaughter while talking to the young mother of the infant. You can tell she was just listening, standing there with this blank stare, nodding her head as if she understood. You could tell the young parents were just beat, the father had this look on his face as if he just wanted to get away. He would lean against the counter along the wall, or the stroller that happen to be full with bags. There seemed to be issues with one of the panties the older woman wanted to purchase. That is when I noticed the young mother leave the line and retrieve another kind. Time was moving along, but this line was not. All because this old fart wanted to purchase about a dozen decorative panties – hopefully they were not for her. After all this time, we did not get out until 5:50 in the evening. Our time spent in this store was almost an entire hour – most of the time spent standing in line.
The next was a store that had wall to wall of mak-up, and this place was a freak show! When noticing the aesthetic look of employees and some customers, one can recall memories during their youth watching, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. This place had such a palpable smell, the mind began frantically attempt to identify which brand of perfume was strangling the nasal passages. After regaining focus, I found a corner within the room and quickly got out of the crowd. Sephora provided an experience to a customer like myself, a sense of wonderment. The sights of femininity, sounds of gasps when a favorite color accentuates a face, and smells of indefinable origin. I soon developed a craving for popcorn, and the expectation to see Tim Curry perform the musical number, “Sweet Transvestite” while entering the store.
After spending several hours at the mall, we limped our ragged, disheveled, hungry bodies to a burger shop. There are many reasons why I dislike fast food restaurants, and this evenings experience provided many of them to support my opinion. This establishment had employed several young clueless, unorganized people who acted like wee children. We were waiting a long time for our food, along with being skipped at least once. One female employee mishandled the fountain machine, which had projected some liquid out of and over onto the counter where customers stood. The first time this happened was when Savannah was standing at the counter waiting for our food. I am glad this substance missed Savannah, because she was already grumpy and tired. I would stand and watch, while attempting to distinguish which temperament she would show when attacking those employees – now victims. Savannah’s mum, including myself can let the attitude fly when being poked in the right spot. It would be interesting to see how Savannah would react. About ten minutes later while we were at our table eating, I saw the second time this employee messed with that fountain. This time the liquid had splashed an older woman right in the face.
When it was our chance to order, my choice was a fat burger with cheese on it. To ensure its unhealthiness, I had asked for extra pickles, extra grease, but no onions. When our food finally came, my burger was dry, still had onions, and only three damn pickles. Both kids saw the annoyed look on my face and instantly attempted to ease my frustration. The kids were unsuccessful, so I calmly walked over to the front counter.
I told the cashier, who then slowly meandered his way towards the back in the kitchen area. After a few moments, the burger was handed back to me by the same lazy cashier while showing a tired ass look on his face. To my surprise upon lifting this bun from my burger, there were no longer any onions. I was not surprised to see that it was still dry, with only six pickles placed haphazardly on the patty. Yes! Those lazy people gave me only three more pickles, one of them looking like a wee deformed slice.
The crazy part of our visit was seeing how dirty, and poorly maintained it was during the evening hours. Their lack of ability in filling the slots for paper bowl-cups (for ketchup), lids, and napkins was annoying. I grabbed a bunch of ketchup packets from the counter and sat down. By this time, my patience was becoming thin, and my feet really hurt. In general, I really do not like using public bathrooms – especially ones at restaurants. This night had reinforced my reasoning to why I am compelled not to use public bathroom facilities. Before receiving our food, I had made a fateful decision that would haunt me to this day.
When entering the bathroom, the stench of human feces had almost knocked me out! To top this off, the bathroom was so wee, there was one sink, urinal, and stall. Combined with this overpowering smell of feces – it was like a bomb! I staggered my way through, noticing the dirty floor with toilet paper strewn about. The urinal had pubic hair plus pee stains, and the walls looked to be coated in dust and dirt. This bathroom looked as if it has not been cleaned in years. I staggered towards the stall holding my breath, knowing eventually that smell would penetrate my nose. Not wanting to lose conscientiousness and black out, I took small breaths through my mouth. No way in hell would I want to fall down onto that dirty bathroom floor. I quickly found the source of what created the smell when opening the stall door. What looked to be nestled on the floor between the toilet and wall was something that is just nasty! There it was – crumpled up toilet paper covered in feces that contained underneath soaked covered underwear. My stomach began to tighten, and my knees felt weak. I had enough and just decided to leave – leave quickly. I staggered out of the bathroom – fresh air filling my lungs while the head began to clear and focus. I headed back to the table where the kids were sitting, and reluctantly began to eat my food. That smell coated my throat, and camped out in my nasal passages for hours.
The moral of my story is that life is unpredictable, eventful, challenging, and all wrapped up as a gift. Having adventures out in public contains a multitude of learning opportunities. I am grateful for my children, family, and friends, all the while with being blessed to have experienced them during my lifetime so far to this point. I am not perfect – nobody is, but every day has a beginning and an end. I maintained the ability in living each day to the fullest, while becoming a better person for everyone to see. I can honestly say that my time was well spent – simply because my two children were with me the entire time. Throughout all of my days, failures, and success – my children are a part of my soul. With the help of my first wife – yes First wife, my children are a unique mixture. Heather and I have been divorced since Jared was about four years-old, and all the while, raising the kids is an arduous experience. There is no way I could have done this by myself, so there is much gratitude for Heather in being there for our children. The irony in having children is that their personality is a mixture, which shows traces of Heather and myself. When it is said that family and friends are everlasting – it truly is indeed.
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© 2016 Jeb Stuart Bensing