It's been a bit of a wild weekend with us being at the mercy of the overpopulation gods. We had lots of plans for my husbands' birthday, but too many people visiting our town thwarted most of them.
I've had the chance to do some traveling around the state of Arizona over the past five years mostly due to photography classes and photography jobs, but my husband's job has kept him at home, so he wanted to get out and experience some place different. We planned to go to an arboretum on Friday, then to a pizza place and a "star party" on Saturday. However, when I realized that the pizza place was on the way to the arboretum and that we'd have a better chance of getting served on a Friday for lunch rather than a Saturday for dinner, I suggested that we get our pizza before going to the arboretum. Big mistake.
Though we did get the last table available right away, there was only one server, one bartender, and one cook on duty. It took us nearly two hours to get our menus, order, get our meal, eat, get our bill and pay. The old couple next to us was complaining bitterly about being there for over an hour, because they couldn't get the server's attention to bring a box for their leftovers. My husband suggested that they take the pizza to the bartender and ask for a box, but they just got more irritated and sat there. They wanted to be served and were going to continue to sit there for another hour until someone brought them a box. I wanted to tell them that's not Arizona style. You have to take the initiative and take care of yourself. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten up and walked into a kitchen area to help myself to utensils, napkins, water, and coffee because the staff was too busy to help the customers.
I would swear that the server was being more attentive to us than to the old couple on purpose, because we were kind and had a good attitude. By the time we got out of there, we still had half a large pizza leftover in a box, and I knew we couldn't leave it sitting in the car for several more hours while we drove to and hiked around the arboretum, so we headed back home to put the pizza in the fridge. By then everyone was too tired to hike, and I doubted we'd have enough time to tour the arboretum before closing time, so we skipped it.
Since the rodeo and carnival were kicking off, I suggested that we do our grocery shopping at night, because the population has been getting so bad lately that we have to fight for a parking spot, fight for a shopping cart, fight for space to get up and down the aisles in the market, and fight for the last items on the shelves. Also, most of the products we like are usually picked clean. Last weekend we went grocery shopping in a completely different city, and still didn't get what we needed, and several weekends before that we've had to go grocery shopping at two stores just to get half of what we needed.
A few weeks ago I was telling my neighbor that I'm homesick for my old hometown in Nevada because everything was so easy there. You just drove a short distance to the market, and there were three markets in a row, so you took your pick, got in and out in half an hour with a cart full of food that lasted your family a week, and not one single person touched or bumped into you or your truck along the way. Here in Arizona in the winter, you just have way too many bodies crammed into one space pushing and shoving to get around each other. I feel like an ant on an ant hill.
Anyway, he suggested that I only do my marketing at night, because most of the types of people I want to avoid are in bed once the sun sets. So, we went grocery shopping Friday night, and it was heavenly. Not only were the shelves stocked with everything we need, but we had the space to go our own pace, and I was actually able to spend some time perusing the baking section, which is an aisle I usually can't even get down at all. I've been eating mostly frozen foods, because that's the one aisle that most people of the retired generation skip. It's nice to get some real, fresh food for a change. Oh yeah, and we had our pick of parking spaces and were able to get one closer than ever to the front of the store. We were in and out in half an hour. I also discovered that they put their faster staff on duty at night, so our checker and bagger were flying. We also didn't have to wait for traffic to clear to get out of the parking lot onto the highway. Usually, the cars are backed up at red lights for an entire block, and we have to wait for the light to turn green just to get a car-length of space so we can turn and cut somebody off.
After experiencing getting a little bit of space, I realized that I've been under a lot of stress because of the population problems here. I'm constantly having to take in my surroundings, speed up, slow down, swerve, stop, and whatnot to avoid collisions with other people and vehicles. It eats away at you after a while. I am not a city person. Add in that all of these people are from different worlds from you, and have different sensibilities. Anticipating what others are thinking and are going to do is nearly impossible. I'm continually astounded by the stupid choices that people make. It's downright dangerous out there. While we were driving home from the market, my eye was pulled to the side where someone was waving a flashlight around. It turned out to be a man riding a horse in the dark with a flashlight. He was coming out of a restaurant/bar parking lot, and there were cars swarming all around him. Holy crap, he must have an awesome horse.
The next day I hoped to try going to the arboretum again, but my husband was having coughing fits and I doubted he'd make it. There was plenty in bloom, and it was a long hike. He said he'd rather spend his birthday taking care of things at home, so I took my own hike out in the desert in front of our house because I needed my exercise. I wanted to do something for his birthday, so I offered to take him out to dinner. Sigh. What was I thinking?
The restaurant he picked had people waiting out the door, and it wasn't even 4:30 PM yet. Most of the booths were empty and the hostess was warning everyone that they only had two cooks and two servers on staff, when they usually had four cooks and five servers. Everyone was grumbling that someone in management didn't plan very well with this being the busiest weekend of the year in our community. So, the hostess started telling people that they had several employees quit with no warning. It was painful watching person after person come in and point out to the hostess that there were dozens of customers waiting around, and at least a dozen tables with no one sitting at them. I guess they thought she was blind. She had to keep repeating that there weren't enough servers and cooks, so they had to close off one section of the restaurant until someone else came on duty.
Another cook showed up in a baseball uniform, and he was all dirty and sweaty. He obviously got yanked out of a game to rescue his employer. He went straight back into the kitchen and I hoped he would at least wash his hands. I thought things were looking up since a third cook had arrived, but then the hostess told everyone that was actually the second cook. The whole time we'd been standing around, there was actually only one cook in the kitchen.
The waiting situation was getting uncomfortable because both my husband and I have arthritis and bad backs, but because we were younger than everyone else, we had to keep giving up our seats to people who could barely walk. At one point, most everyone who clearly needed to sit had a bench, so I continued to sit in the waiting area to give my knees a break, and the lady next to me shot me an annoyed look because her husband wanted to sit down, but there wasn't room. I heard her say to her husband, "She's young. I don't know why she can't give you her seat."
Believe me, just because someone is "young" doesn't mean they aren't in as much pain standing around as the older crowd. You can't judge a book by its cover. Yes, I can hike with the help of a walking stick, but that's actually a lot easier than standing still for half an hour. The other thing is that this couple had just arrived. I'd been waiting for about 20 minutes at that point. They knew they had potentially an hour wait, so they could have sat in their car or gone to a different restaurant. A man showed up with three little boys, and he allowed them to lie down and play on a bench in the waiting area, taking up more space than anyone needed, while all these crippled people were standing around waiting for a chance to sit. I knew people were pissed at him after the "young" comment I experienced. Then he got up and went to his car, leaving his kids alone. One lady swooped in and crumpled into his seat next to his kids, which forced him to make the kids take up less space to make room for him when he returned.
We had to wait until after 5:00 PM to be seated, but we got a fresh server who just came on duty. She was super attentive and on the ball, but it was still a long process, and by the time we got out, my husband was too tired to go to the star party.
When we got home, our next door neighbor was having his annual rodeo party, which we had been invited to. We hadn't planned on going since we were going to the star party, but now we just wanted to go to sleep. Every year, his party guests spill out onto his covered porch and backyard, and when I walk outside to do barn chores or to take the dogs out to do their business, I attract everyone's attention, and whatever I'm doing quickly becomes the main topic of conversation. Everyone is drunk, so they don't realize how loud they are speaking. I can hear everything. I've had people sing "Rawhide" when I've been rolling my wagon around cleaning up manure, because the wheels on my wagon squeak and creak and make a lot of noise. Stewie always barks at all the people, which gets them squealing about puppies. I've heard people say things like, "Why is she taking those dogs out again? She just did it a few minutes ago."
Welcome to my life. Until you've owned two diabetic, decrepit dogs at the same time, you just can't relate. And yes, Scrappy is starting to get diabetic like Midge. He's drinking and peeing excessively. All of my dogs got that way in the last few weeks/months of their lives. That's the indicator that tells me the end is near. I'm going to put him down before it gets to the point where I have to give him insulin shots, though. He can barely walk, and he falls over when I put his diaper on and take it off.
I didn't want to deal with all the drunken party-goers insensitive comments this year, so I cleaned up all the manure, fed the horses, and filled all the water troughs before the party started. I also took the dogs out front instead of into the dog yard to do their business, so that we could have a little privacy. I'm looking forward to the return of normalcy, and regaining some space for myself.