Quote of the day: Hail! Hail! The gang’s all here. — D. A. Estrom
“Silver bells, silver bells / It’s Christmas time in the city”
As I walk through the front doors of one of Santa Fe’s upscale grocery stores, the produce department sounds like a cattle drive gone cowbell crazy. Everywhere I look, aisles are crowded. People are rushing by me as if en route to an urgent bathroom visit. Shoppers, with one ear attached to their cell phone, fuss over lettuce as if choosing their last supper, albeit an organic one.
Desperate, I park my cart in a little nook of space on the sales floor the marketing director has actually failed to fill. Unfortunately, in the time it takes me to pick my first item up for purchase, the empty cart is gone, snatched away in a flash.
I go back to the store entrance and get another cart. The only one left is a huge family size monstrosity. As I wheel this green, tank-like contraption back to produce, I get butt-ended by other people trying to turn their tanks around. Space is at an all-time premium today. Some people act as if there’s a personal two foot area surrounding their cart, a zone I’ll get shocked by if proceeding within. (I don’t exactly experience shocks, but do see snarls and flashes of customer teeth.) Wasn’t the average personal cart space in August at least three feet in width?
Cautiously navigating my way out of produce, I head to one of the store’s middle aisles. No way – it’s clear of customers! Overhead piped-in Christmas carols are replaced by “We’re Off to See the Wizard.” I kick my heels in mid-air as I skip down the lane for no other reason than I can.
But, like Dorothy in “Oz’s” Munchkinland Square, shoppers quickly descend upon me from all directions. I stop to watch my fellow New Mexican shoppers race around, as if by doing so they’ll shave time off their unalterable fifteen minute check-out experience.
Christmas lyrics return: “Strings of street lights / Even stop lights / Blink a bright red and green / As the shoppers rush home with their treasures.” “Shoppers rush home” is a reminder, a warning I must stop and look both ways for oncoming customers whenever exiting an aisle. I’ve learned that cart traffic laws don’t exist during Christmas, despite the fact it’s the season of giving. How sad. Christmas isn’t a very heartwarming holiday anymore. Because of it, and feeling crowded, people just get grumpy. All I really want to do now is shop, pay, and get out of here.
Approaching my car in the parking lot (with its Munchkin-sized lanes and Munchkin-sized parking spaces), my checkout line bagger suddenly rushes up and says, “Oh, sir, you left your bottled water behind. Here it is. And happy holidays, sir.”
He smiles. I smile. We even shake hands.
“Silver Bells / silver Bells / Soon it will be Christmas Day.”
Maybe Christmas hasn’t completely failed the test after all. I guess it just depends on who you bump into.