The New Car

IMG_4114I can’t imagine hell being much worse than a car lot in Little Rock, Arkansas on a hot August day, which is exactly how I found myself spending the majority of my day today. Yesterday when I told someone I was coming to Arkansas today they asked if I was going to Little Rock, and that is when I started to think if I would ever go to Little Rock again, which is strange since it’s where I grew up and spent the majority of my life thus far, but I don’t have family there anymore which has been, since the time I moved, the only thing that has kept me coming back to a city that doesn’t offer much in the way of appeal, and just like that, I was back in my old hometown. It was a spur of the moment trip, brought on because my mom needed to pick something up there, and then afterward, decided it might be prudent whilst in a much bigger city than which she currently lives, to stop at a dealership to look at cars since she is desperately in need of a new one.

The salesman spotted us pulling onto the lot and directed us to an unauthorized spot right in the front of the dealership, royalty among the peasants. My mom knew exactly what she wanted, well sort of, she had it mostly narrowed down to a sensible option and a more luxurious option that she kept bringing up occasionally, debating aloud whether or not it was okay to spend a lot more money for a car that wasn’t all that practical, while I the bad influence egged her on. Reason won out and she decided to pursue, with all of her focus, the Toyota Camry, which the salesman Deshaun was more than happy to show us, especially after he found out that she was paying cash and could smell her desire to buy before we even stepped out of the car. We saw some preowned models, none of which tickled her fancy and then went on to some new models that seemed more in line with what she was looking for. There was one she really liked and after the test drive was just about ready to buy, especially since the salesman “thought he could get the price down” into her range, an old sales tactic, but an effective one, but I convinced my mom that if he was willing to make that deal today, then he would be able to do it a week from now, which the salesman confirmed to my delight, and she decided to talk it over with my grandmother who was waiting inside the dealership.

As we walked through the showroom on our way to go revisit the preowned cars one more time just to make sure that she really didn’t want any of them, we walked past a brand new silver car that she stopped to admire and instantly fell in love with when she discovered it had all of the features she wanted. The salesman looked at the price and regretfully informed her that unfortunately it was too far out of her range and there was no way he could get “permission” to bring the price down enough that she would still want to buy it. We looked at the rejected pre-owned’s once more and once again saw why someone had decided to give them up in the first place. My mom was ready to buy the other car, the one she test drove, but it didn’t have one of the big features that she wanted and didn’t like the interior color of the car. That’s when I had an idea, an idea so simple I couldn’t believe that I didn’t think about it sooner. I asked her if she would be willing to trade in her current car and have the salesman negotiate the price down on the showroom car that she loved to the price that fell within her range, and she, as expected was of course thrilled with my proposal. The salesman agreed to my terms which was great for my mom, and she ended up getting the car that she really wanted, all thanks to my sharp mind and negotiating skills, both of which were unfortunately nowhere to be found a couple years ago when I needed to buy a new car. We drove away from the dealership three and a half hours after we arrived in a silver Toyota Camry and leaving the GMC Acadia behind. The end result was a good one with my mom getting a good deal on her car, but I’ve gotta be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever been more ready to get out of Little Rock. It was a very long day.

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A Trip to the Mall on a Tuesday Afternoon

IMG_4082I have to work this Saturday which means that today I only had to go into work for a few hours, so when I got home I took my wife to her chiropractor, not because I love going to the dimly lit building where my wife’s spine gets shoved back into place, but because it’s rare that we are ever off work at the same time and I wanted to hang out with her today. After the appointment that took maybe ten minutes, and cost roughly two dollars per minute, which in all sincerity is money well spent since my wife could hardly even walk before, we decided it might be fun to go to the mall since we were already over in the area, and since school started here yesterday, we figured it wouldn’t be obnoxiously crowded like the rest of the summer. Sadly, we were wrong.

I’m not kidding when I say that the parking lot was as crowded as I can ever remember and I had to park pretty far from the entrance, not that I minded that aspect all that much since it turned out to be a pretty pleasant summer day. We walked into the food court, the place where any good trip to the mall starts, and got a snack of bacon cheese fries and a soda. You really haven’t lived until you try walking around the mall on a miserably full stomach. The cheese fries were overly salty, but they were devoured nonetheless, and with no particular destination in mind, we began to wander around the Wolfchase Galleria. There were quite a few stores that have opened up since we’d last been in there, so we ventured inside, were hassled by salespeople wanting to help us find something that we ourselves didn’t know we were looking for, and subsequently left, moving on to the next one.

The process repeated in this fashion with each store we went into, which left me remembering why I don’t like the mall that much in the first place, because browsing just isn’t as much fun without unlimited funds in the bank account, and it’s uncomfortable the way the shop owner’s eyes will follow you around the store, waiting expectantly to make a purchase that never actually happens. We went into Bath and Body Works, a store that I both loathe and love, because nothing is offensive as the combination of odors that you might smell, but there are few things as satisfying as walking away with the perfect scented candle that brings back some unknown memory that translates to happiness. We walked around taking the tops off of various candles and smelling them to see if that is what we wanted our apartment to smell like for the next month or so, but more often than not we shook our heads in disgust as candles with names like “Flannel” or “Pomegranate” gave off overwhelming scents that were altogether unpleasant. We did however find one that we love, an old favorite of ours, “Pumpkin Apple”, but agreed that was a scent better suited for a nice and cool fall evening than a warm and muggy summer afternoon that is currently our reality, so we left the store empty handed, vowing to come back for that candle once the leaves begin to change and life seems much more optimistic. Although we didn’t end up buying anything, I wouldn’t consider the afternoon a bust, because it was just nice getting to spend some quality time in the mall with my wife on a Tuesday, which in itself is a pretty rare occurrence.

Searching for the Perfect Gift

IMG_4073My grandpa and cousin Abigail share a birthday, August 7, which is tomorrow, but since it falls on a Monday the whole family got together to celebrate the greatness that is the two of them. I procrastinate on a lot of things, and unfortunately buying birthday gifts is one of them, so that is how I found myself driving to Walmart at about 2:30 this afternoon. I know, I know, what kind of idiot buys somebody a gift at Walmart? Well again this is unfortunate, the answer is me, but in my pathetic defense it is conveniently close to where I live. Maybe that makes it even worse, I don’t know. Anyway, I can’t turn into the parking lot because a stream of Mustangs are flowing in a cohesive line through the parking lot like a funeral procession, no matter that I had the right of way and they should have been stopping. I finally butted in front of one and got honked at, but it was a nice tradeoff to being forced to look at anymore of these lame people who have nothing more interesting to do on a Sunday afternoon that meet up in a Walmart parking lot with other people who drive the same kind of car that they do.

So I head into the store, knowing exactly one gift that I’m getting and with a couple options in mind for the other one. For my cousin I’m getting her a stainless steel bottle/tumbler/whatever that keeps drinks cold or hot for an excessive amount of time. I got one of these last year and it quickly became my favorite cup, eventually becoming the only one I drank out of, so I’ve decided to share the experience and have given it as a gift to a couple of people who really like it, so I figured my cousin would too. Now my grandpa is quite a bit more difficult to shop for. He’s not the sort of person you can just buy any old t-shirt for. There are certain brands that have been met with his approval, so it’s best to stick to these, but since I’m kind of balling on a budget at the moment, his shirts weren’t really an option so I had to come up with something else. As I walked down the aisles I scanned the ground hoping it would be my lucky day and I would find a very rare and valuable coin lying on the ground, which would make a great gift for my grandpa who just so happens to be an avid coin collector. But then again if it was really valuable I could sell it and get him one of his shirts plus something for me, which would be the ideal scenario in my selfish world, but alas, I had no such luck finding a coin.

I decided to get him a puzzle, which is actually something I think he enjoys working on, so I walked past all of the board games to the microscopic puzzle section of Walmart. Most of them were really annoying to look at, so I could just imagine how excruciating it would be to stare at that same picture for hours trying to put the thing together, so once I weeded out all of the unacceptable ones there were very few options remaining, a Monsters Inc. puzzle for children and a one thousand piece puzzle featuring a house with some tall grass and a couple of deer out front. I got him the latter and it actually seemed to go over well when he opened it, as did the tumbler with my cousin, which just goes to show you that good gifts CAN actually be bought at Walmart.

Stealing Cars & Groceries: Nobody Cares

Car alarms are useless. It doesn’t matter what kind of car you own, whether it’s a Lexus or a Hyundai, there is no real protection offered to you in the case of auto theft. I’ve never been the victim of this sort of crime in my life, but if it happens to me, I can’t say that I would be surprised. Just today I heard a car alarm going off in a grocery store parking lot, and neither me nor any of the people in the area cared enough to see what was going on. That’s just the way it is. An alarm is seen as more of an annoyance rather than an alert that something bad is going on, which is why I find car alarms completely useless and ridiculous. I click the button on the remote a couple times, first for the initial lock and the second to make sure the alarm is set, but that doesn’t really matter at all because nobody cares. Unless you are within eyesight of your car being broken into, the thieves will get away with whatever they want, and unfortunately this doesn’t just apply to automobiles.

As I left the grocery store today, I was behind a woman who set off the stores alarm when leaving, and and she didn’t even stop, not that it mattered because an employee was quick to offer her an apology for the “malfunction” and send her on her way. For all anyone knew this person could have stolen every item in her cart, but because nobody cared, she left the store free of any suspicion that any wrongdoing had taken place. The popular phrase, “the customer is always right” seems to take away any responsibility of the customers that shop at a particular store, one that is much more interested in having said customer return than the potential loss that is taken if a non trustworthy person decides to walk out the door with more groceries than they have paid for. I just don’t get it, and I wonder why stores let people get away from the flashing lights and beeping sounds of the security sensors as if the store is the one at fault.

I don’t plan to steal a car or anything from a grocery store but I have to say that it seems pretty easy to do so. When was the last time you heard a car alarm in the parking lot and actually went to investigate what was going on. That is somebody else’s problem, just like when a teenage employee doesn’t think twice about the person leaving the store while alarms go off all around them. I don’t condone stealing, but if other people are getting away with it then why should I continue to pay my weekly grocery bill at full cost? Don’t people care enough about what they own to step in and put an end to this madness? The evidence clearly says no, and that is why I won’t be surprised if either of my cars are stolen at some point in the near future.

Buying Groceries Online

I used to love grocery shopping, but all of that stopped at some point when my wife deemed it necessary to buy our weekly groceries at multiple stores and spending an exorbitant amount of time, around two hours, doing so. My wife focuses on getting the best values, combing through sales ads and going to one store for poultry and another for produce, whereas I just want to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible, because to me, grocery shopping seems like a huge waste of time. I realize that it’s key to survival, but do we really need to spend a big chunk of the day on it? I don’t think so, which is why, for the last few weeks anyway, my wife has done the shopping alone and we couldn’t be happier with the arrangement. Even though these arrangements are good for everyone involved, there is always room for improvement in any given situation, so this week we tried something new and ordered our groceries online.

Before my wife left for work this morning she gave me her debit card and the instructions to show up at Kroger sometime between ten and eleven to pick up the groceries. About ten thirty-three I pulled into the parking lot and tried to figure out where I was supposed to go. The email confirmation that Kroger had sent my wife and had been forwarded along to me just said to follow the signs and the instructions on them to pick up your groceries. I past sign after sign as I drove past the front of the store, careful not to run over any of the shoppers; fire lane: do not park, handicap parking, tow away zone, all signs I passed, none of which mentioned where to pick up your online order. After I finally made it past the store with no fatalities, I noticed a few parking spots to the side that were reserved for picking up groceries. Bingo, I pulled in. There was a phone number on the sign that told me to call it to let the store know I was here, which was pretty disappointing because I figured in this day and age that Kroger would have the technology to sense my presence as I pulled into the parking lot and be waiting at the front of the store with my basket full of groceries.

I called the number, gave them my name, and less than five minutes later an employee was wheeling my groceries towards my parked car. I got out, paid and signed the paperwork and told the employee she could put the groceries into the laundry basket sitting in the backseat, a genius idea thought up by my wife to carry in the groceries so we didn’t have to keep going up and down the stairs to our apartment multiple times just to carry everything inside. The employee asked me if I wanted the eggs up front with me and I said sure, but by the time everything was loaded, there were no eggs to be found. She said that she must have been mistaken in thinking we had eggs, and since I didn’t order the groceries I had no idea whether we did or not, but I’m sure I’ll find out quickly when my wife gets home from work and opens the fridge to make sure I’ve put everything away properly, which in all honesty, I probably didn’t.

Somehow we ended up with four boxes of croissants, and while I do use them for my sandwiches I take for lunch, sixteen large croissants seemed excessive so I texted my wife to ask why she’d ordered so many. She only meant to order eight, but must have accidentally doubled the order, either that or they gave us extra croissants instead of eggs. I honestly don’t know how accurate the order turned out yet seeing as how I have no idea what was ordered in the first place, but whatever the outcome, I hope we continue to do our grocery shopping this way in the future. It’s so easy and takes about the same amount of time as filling up at the gas station. If you haven’t already gotten in on this trend I would highly recommend giving it a try. Why not make your life easier?

The Curious Case of the Wal-Mart Bathroom

IMG_3573Does anybody else feel the need to use the bathroom while their grocery shopping? While the urge may strike you as soon as you enter the store or when you leave the checkout line, I feel that this human reaction is fairly common. My wife takes a crazy amount of time picking out groceries, and I, the basket pusher, finds myself in need of a restroom just about every time we go shopping, but unfortunately the bathrooms at the front of the Wal-Mart store where we go, are closed. It’s been that way four multiple months now, and every time we go, I’m forced to walk to the back of the store, through the paint section, and the hardware tools in order to relieve myself. Throughout the course of my life I’ve come into contact with different restrooms in different places that have been closed, with an out of order sign posted on the door, but this is the first time that stores that I frequent, have closed a bathroom for an extended period of time, and I just want to find out what’s going on.

Yesterday, my wife and I went grocery shopping and on schedule my bladder sent a message to my brain that it needed to be released. Unfortunately we were in the checkout line and the restrooms at the front of the store were closed off, baskets and caution tape preventing me from doing what was necessary at the moment. I wouldn’t be writing about this if it were a one time problem, but the truth is, these restrooms have been closed off most of the year and i don’t understand what could be so wrong with them that they would be closed for such an extended period of time. I called the store and asked about it, and the first person I spoke to told me that they had open bathrooms in the back of the store. That’s great but didn’t answer the question I was asking, so she transferred me to a manager.

I was respectful to the manager, more so that I probably could have, and he clarified why the restrooms at the front of the store were closed, because of a problem with the design of the building which subsequently led to too much sewage coming from that front bathroom. I expressed my displeasure and asked the manager when the bathrooms at the front of the store would be opened and he told me that Wal-Mart hoped to have them back opened within the month, which I’m not buying. The store in question is less than a year old, and I feel that proper precautions should have taken place to avoid his catastrophe, but they were not, which is why I have to haul my butt to the back of the store anytime I want to use the restroom. My advice to all my readers is simple; if you are the kind of person that uses the restroom at any point that you are shopping for groceries, go somewhere else like Target or Kroger, because at Wal-Mart you won’t find the adequate restrooms you deserve.

The Weekly Annoyance

Last night my wife and decided to get our weekly grocery shopping over with. Normally we do it on Sunday’s, but today we’re going to visit my family in Arkansas for the Easter holiday, and didn’t want to have to worry about going to the store when we returned home tomorrow afternoon, because for us, grocery shopping is an arduous process involving multiple hours and multiple stores. I’m not really sure why, but I just go along and try not to complain too much. We left the apartment at seven, and by eight o’clock I was standing in front of the deli counter at Walmart, to get some lunch meat, one of the few remaining items on the shopping list. An employee approached the counter and I told him wanted I wanted, a pound of the smoked ham, pretty straight forward if I may say so myself. He said something inaudible, but I figured he was asking how thick I wanted it sliced, a question I’m asked every week, so I gave my answer, and again the employee muttered something, so I guess I must’ve misheard him. I thought maybe he didn’t hear what I had said so I repeated, “one pound of the smoked ham” and in an attempt to make sure he understood me, I pointed at the product that I wanted.

He looked at me and said the same words again, but still I had no idea what he was saying. “Excuse me?” I asked, feeling like an idiot for having this guy repeat the same thing over and over to me. He said it once more and finally I made out the words. “We’re closed.” I walked back over to my wife who was checking out the abysmal selection of sweet potatoes, trying to convince herself to take one of the disgusting looking spuds, when I told her that the deli was closed. Without missing a beat she suggested we go to Kroger, eager to find some better looking sweet potatoes, so we added a fourth store to our grocery rotation, and backtracked all the way back to Kroger.

The good news is that the sweet potatoes happened to be on sale for thirty-nine cents a pound, and there was an enormous selection to choose from. The bad news is that when we rang them up at the self checkout, we were charged a dollar and ninety-nine cents a pound. Me being the con confrontational and impatient person that I am was all for paying the higher price and getting out of grocery number three as quickly as possible, but my wife was not about to spend so much for just two sweet potatoes. She voided the item on the self checkout screen and of course we had to wait for an attendant to come over and put in her little code and to make sure we weren’t trying to pull a fast one over on them by stealing the item we were pretending to void. I explained to the employee that we must have put in the wrong code because the sweet potatoes ended up being more expensive than advertised. Actually, we were told, we had indeed put in the right code, but for some reason that particular item was ringing up incorrectly, so she had to manually enter the correct price. It’s too bad we weren’t at Publix because if an item is more expensive than the sign says, you get it for free, but I was just happy to get the weekly soul sucking grocery shopping trip behind me. Now I can relax and enjoy my weekend.