As I was saying, a Mall at the end of the month, the horror! When these crowds come lumbering in with their fat wallets and even fatter cars. The automatic boom gate going up and down, like the needle of a sowing machine. What if there is a small person in that box at the end of the boom. What if he gets a beep in the ear every time some rotund flibbertigibbet with arms too short, opens his door, scratches the paintwork and presses the button. With the beep, the poor little man pushes down and lifts the boom. Do these hoards of spenders with shoppers fever, drooling mouths under blood-shot eyes care about this poor little man? Do they care about me? All I want is a freaking TV Bar and a good book. But first I have to deal with these huge monstrosities. SUV’s and 4 x 4’s all rendering me invisible, towering over me like metallic blocks of flats, breathing hot gasses to induce sharp throbbing headaches.
On this particular occasion, though the parking lot was full of zigging and zagging cars filled with irate passengers and bloodthirsty drivers, I managed to swiftly slip into an open parking spot. Never mind that it was about 300km away from the entrance of the Mall. What I have learned through my experiences with parking lots, is that the closer you go to the Mall entrance, the more desperate and dangerous the drivers become. Red-faced verbal abuse, violent hand gestures, hooters and brimstone eyes give way to the alighting from vehicles with weapons and full blown psychosis. And finally adjacent to the Mall entrance, seemingly like the golden gates of Heaven, you have The Desperate. These poor sods have tried the verbal abuse, they have blood on their shirts and shaggy beards which have sprouted out unkempt while they waited for a parking spot to magically appear. But hours of waiting have turned these people into quivering and twitching half-wits willing to sell their very soul for a parking spot. I know this because I bought a soul off one of them once. But it got soiled when I traversed a speed bump too quickly and a coke bottle launched around the boot soaking the soul, to its core. It was pretty well used when I bought it, but now, totally ruined. So I threw it away with a bunch of pamphlets from some quack “doctor” offering to help me regain my manhood and receive good luck in the direction of Love and Money, and Vengeance.
After the deathly hike to the Mall entrance, I thought I had finally entered Heaven but it turned out to be a Hell worse than the Hell playing out outside. Clumps of people stuck to each other, fused together by constant rubbing, like jelly babies melting and melding in your pocket on a hot day. It is winter, so at least it wasn’t hot and sweaty. That would have been a deeper layer in the onion of the Hell I was in. I immediately pointed myself in the direction of the supermarket. Get in and get out, no faffing about. Of course when you are in the supermarket, your mind which has remained quiet and forgetful on the subject of groceries, suddenly and irritatingly springs into action. It reminds you of all the things that you need to buy. Some of the items that it demands you have never even heard of, but your mind insists that you need them. So there you are wondering around, turning left, turning right, spinning around in circles, twisting your body like a contortionist to avoid stalled trolleys and mindless learner trolley drivers. All the while looking for the items you suddenly and inexplicably need. An announcement: “Dear Customers, the express tills are for 10 items or less only, Thank you.” At which point I went down on my knees and begged my mind to keep its shopping list to a maximum of 10 items.
My mind heeded my plea. I had 10 items. No T.V Bar, but I think that they stop making those. If I did find one I would have been at war with my mind, about what to leave behind, “Leave no man behind” my mind would have said, to which I would have responded “In war, it is every man for himself.” And this was war. The lady who was in charge of telling the customers which till to go to (as if we were all demented fools) was very regimented. A drill sergeant that all of us in the express queue feared. A few people couldn’t take the pressure and flung their baskets aside and ran out of the supermarket, never to be seen again, Charlie got them while they were looking for their cars. I kept my nerve. There was a lady behind me with a trolley, which she kept ramming into me. Inside the trolley were about 7 jars of mayonnaise. The big jars. Apparently she was making the worlds biggest salad. The queue, despite it’s name, was slow. We shuffled along like snails on a gravel road. I found my mind drifting to a friend of mine, who is an avid cyclist. He would be out cycling at this time had it not been for his accident a couple weeks ago. I still believe that he faked the entire thing. Oh, he sent a picture of himself all bandaged up, but I have read enough Sherlock Holmes stories,watched enough Pink Panther films and avoided enough Nancy Drew stories, to spot that the bandages were completely in the wrong places, for a fall. How does one fall off a bike and tear a pair of pants? When the pants in question were hanging on the washing line, next to his superman underwear, at the time of the fall. I contend that he was drinking and cycling and rode straight into the side of the elephant in the room. The horses were too busy in the committee meeting, designing the camel, to assist my poor friend. The elephant, being unharmed, but very angry, gave my friend a good thrashing then hopped into a clown car and chased two birds in the bush.
Finally! I am up next! I darted my eyes from till to till, ready to leap forth before getting scolded by Drill Sergeant Maximus Tenus.
“Do you have a store card?”
“Do you want a store card?”
“How are you paying, cash or card”
“We don’t accept No here.”
“No!……Do you want a plastic bag?”
“Only to put over my head and end it all!”
“Very good sir.”
When I reached the door of the supermarket, I took the plastic bag off my head and put my purchases into it. Perhaps ending it all would be a touch dramatic, I thought. Besides I would need a free hand to have my parking card discounted. At least I didn’t have to pay for my spot, way way out there on the horizon……of the freaking moon. While driving towards the exit I noticed three supercars parked together, a Lambogini Huracan, a BMW I8 and what looked like a Mclaren. Between the BMW and Lambo was an old white Volvo stationwagan. It was the perfect metaphor. Even those rich bastards are here, parked 100’s of kilometres away from the Mall entrance, going through that same torture that I had just been put through. And like that old Volvo standing head to head with those supercars, those rich SOB’s and I are equal in the eyes of the Devil that is the Mall, at the end of the month.
After the little man dropped the boom behind me, I realised that I forgot to go to the book store.