Thursday, December 9, 2010

Communication Breakdown

We were running out of bread, milk, eggs, and food in general, so I had to go to the market yesterday. The wind was screaming, clouds were bearing down on us and I was afraid I'd get stuck out on the town in an ugly storm, but I had to get food. It seemed no one else in town was concerned about the storm, because traffic was as bad as ever.

When I go to the market, I have to make a left off the second busiest street in town onto the first busiest street in town, then I have to immediately change lanes and make a right into the market parking lot. By law, drivers are supposed to turn from the left turn lane into the left lane, then put on their turn signal and move over into the right lane if it is clear. However, all these newcomers just turn straight into the right-hand lane from the left turn lane, even though there are other drivers trying to turn right into the right-hand lane from across the intersection. After successfully cutting off the other driver's right-of-way, they then gun it so that us law-abiding citizens who made a left in front of them into the left-hand lane can't get over to make our turn off. Right-hand turn signals are completely ignored, because God Forbid the driver might have to slow down when the person makes her right-hand turn into the supermarket.

So, I had a guy in a big black pickup truck behind me, and I knew he was going to pull that stunt. I don't know what it is about big black pickup trucks, but they seem to attract the most aggressive drivers. I handled it by turning into both lanes so that I was half-way in the left lane and half-way in the right lane, and I quickly put on my right turn signal. Still, he tried to cut me off by getting half-way in the right lane and half-way in the shoulder and gunning it to pass me on the right, but I beat him to it by coming right over. Fortunately, it didn't lead to a road rage incident. I was desperate, because if I miss my turn I have to drive way out of my way to reach the next street with a signal that will allow me to turn around.

While pushing my cart past aisles, reading the signs hanging from the ceiling listing which foods were where, I became aware that someone was pacing me, pushing his cart at the exact same speed on the opposite end of the aisles. This was suspicious, as I usually push my cart much faster than others, as I like to get in and out as fast as possible, but without crashing into someone. I looked at the man's face, and he was not looking at the signs. He was looking at me. The next aisle... still looking at me. Next aisle... still looking.

Now, I've heard that supermarkets have become a more popular place to pick up on women than bars, but I wasn't in the mood. From that distance, the man couldn't see that I was wearing a wedding ring. As soon as the next line of shelves cut off his view of me, I spun my cart around and headed in the opposite direction successfully losing my tail.

A short time later I was debating over which flavor of muffins to get for my teenage son... same old apple cinnamon or something different? I was vaguely aware of a woman in her 50's standing next to me with her cart. A man in his 60's put his hand on her her shoulder and I turned to look because he had a Scottish accent, which is rare to hear in these parts. He said something to her along the lines that she shouldn't leave her purse sitting in her cart, because someone could reach into it and pull out her pocketbook when she's not looking.

I figured this man was her husband. He talked to her for a bit and I really didn't pay any attention beyond that until I felt the woman tense up. She said something about her husband and the man just kept talking to her while she tried to get away from him. It hit me that he was trying to pick up on her, and she was married and didn't want to have anything to do with him. My guess is that the Scottish accent was probably fake.

I had to rescue the woman, so I turned toward the man and gave him this look that told him to back off, and the woman was able to escape while I distracted him. He moved on and I started looking around me. I realized that for some reason my regular supermarket that I've been shopping at for 20 years had turned into a meat market on this day. Men were all over the place hunting down women. It was bizarre.

All the while an announcement kept coming over the loudspeaker saying that the debit machines were down and everyone would have to pay with cash, a check or credit. I wasn't happy to pay with credit for groceries, because I've already run up our credit bill with all our Christmas gifts. The checker and bagger were saying that they heard a rumor that all the machines were down for all the businesses in the valley, and it was due to that WikiLeak attack.

Right then another announcement came over the loudspeaker that due to someone digging with a backhoe, there was a break in a main cable and the phone lines were down for several counties in both Nevada and California. Ugh. This is getting to be a habit in this town. Newcomers move here and start digging to build things without the proper permits, and then everyone suffers because they break some major communication cable. Happens at least every six months.

I then stopped at a pet supply store in search of some personalized attention from a knowledgeable salesperson. All the dog foods that I buy at the feed store and the market haven't worked out for us. The feed store keeps recommending dog foods that my dogs hate, and what they sell in the market in the way of kibble is just too big. Scrappy is such a little dog with bad teeth that he has a hard time chewing the bigger pieces. The vet wants me to keep him on kibble to get the tarter off, but he struggles to break up the big stuff.

So, I needed assistance finding tiny bits of kibble that are somewhat soft. The owner of the store was all aflutter because of the debit machines being down. She couldn't even take credit cards, so she was turning away customers. I paid with cash, but she was also low on small bills, so I had to count out a lot of change -- something I haven't done in years. I usually just hand someone a twenty, take the change, and when my purse gets too heavy I toss all the coins into a pickle jar. Then when the pickle jar gets filled up we have the kids take turns putting the coins into rolls, and carrying them to the bank, where we deposit the amount into their bank accounts. Sadly, I learned that I no longer have the skill to count out change thanks to years of laziness and using plastic. I may as well have been in a foreign country trying to learn a new currency.

Because I don't normally shop at that pet supply store, I got disoriented and realized that I turned up the wrong street. With traffic being as thick as it was, there was no way I could make a left onto the main highway without the help of a traffic light. So, I had to turn right back into the parking lot I just pulled out of and circle past the store a second time.

I became aware that there were a bunch of cops around the storefronts. I worried that someone had done something bad and I was now making myself look suspicious by circling the stores. I reached the stop sign at the driveway and put on my right turn signal. I realized that I was about to make the exact same mistake I made before, so I switched to my left turn signal. Then it hit me that perhaps I should go straight, so I turned my signal off all together.

This must have confused the man making a left out of the driveway in front of me, because he stopped right in the middle of a busy street and motioned for me to go. He had been at his stop sign long before me, so he had the right-of-way. I motioned to him to finish his turn, but he shook his head and insisted that I take his right-of-way. I looked around confused, because I wasn't blocking him in any way, so I didn't know why it was so important to him that I move.

I still hadn't made up my mind as to which direction I wanted to go in, so I yelled at him that I didn't know where I was going and that he should JUST GO! He was holding up traffic on the cross street that did have the right-of-way. He finally finished his turn and gave me a few seconds without pressure to think through how I was going to get out of this maze of streets.

I was so relieved when I finally did get home. It was crazy out there. Each time I run an errand in town I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone, because there are so few people who I recognize anymore. I used to know most everyone at least by face, if not name, because the population here was fairly stable, but now we have so many people moving in and out of this area that the demographic is ever-changing. I'm thinking that I should change my label for these types of stories from "rural lifestyle" to "not-so-rural anymore".


Grey Horse Matters said...

Sounds like you just weren't having a good day. I hate it when the place I'm living gets too crowded. I'm like you, I like my privacy and I like to know most of the people in the area (at least by face if not name). Anyway, you're done for the day, you're home and someday you will probably move to the perfect house, town, farm ...

Reddunappy said...

Gaaahh that moving violation is a pet peave of mine!

People are just getting wierder and wierder arent they.

My son is in the Air Force and works for the NSA, he cant tell us what he does, but I dont even want to imagin what he sees!!!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

What a nightmare, between crazy drivers, perverts, broken money machines, traffic, and the maze of crowded roads. Yikes!
I feel for ya.
People in Albuqeruque think I'm weird that we live out here, but those are the reasons why I rarely ever drive into Albuquerque. All of my shopping is done in our mountains.
Around here we rarely ever have traffic, heck most days, it just seems to be me on the roads, and when there a few extra cars out, we keep a respectful distance of each other (unless they are newcomers who just moved out here....but eventually they learn...or they move back to the city).

Any other shopping I have to do, I do online. I am not a city driver or city shopper and never will be.


Vaquerogirl said...

Wow, what A WEIRD DAY.
Dont you feel like you have just escaped a weird dream or dodged a bullet when that happens?
Glad you made it home in one piece!

J M S said...

I feed Blue Buffalo the Orange bag. Smaller kibble but not soft, but my 7 month old LOVES it. ;)

fernvalley01 said...

So reading that ,I have to say I am glad Martin and I diodn't take a chance and try to rent a car to come visit while we were in Vegas, too far, and sounds like I would have gotten hopelessly lost! Have a better day my friend!

achieve1dream said...

I'm not even going to get started on drivers. I will rant for far too long if I do. :)

I know how you feel though. When I get stressed about traffic I can't even think anymore much less figure out where I'm going, especially in the city. I learned to drive on country roads where you'd maybe see one person as you circle the block. Sigh. I miss those days. :)