It was hot out east, and Target proved frustrating, as did Toys R Us -- they've remodeled and it makes things hard to find. It also makes it look like they've cut their inventory in half, and indeed there was NO selection in the area in which I was interested. So off to Target I went. Their gift-registry-thingy is pretty cool -- the touch-screen interface was quick and responsive, and the machine printed out a list that even said what aisle each item should be in. I found the first thing I was looking for right away, but after that NONE of the aisle designations was right. I couldn't find the other thing I wanted to get at all, and settled for a couple of other small things, but still felt like I hadn't gotten enough. If I could've found the last item I was looking for, it would've been okay, but I couldn't, and there wasn't a Sales Associate for miles.
So I looked for some other things, and couldn't find them either. Then I looked for things for US, and couldn't find *them* -- no decent table lamps, no plastic *hangers* for crying out loud. I forgot to re-check the purse section, which I breezed past on my way in, and they didn't have any good flowers. But then I noticed a hanging basket with calibrachoa in it -- I'm a sucker for calibrachoa. And they had a tiny hanging basket of burro's tails that was kind of cute. So I bought them, and the other stuff that I had managed to find, and congratulated myself with not being overloaded as I walked out into the hot sunny day...
Just in time to watch the bus go by. Okay. I walked down a couple of blocks to where I could catch two different buses, both of which would take me where I needed to go (but of course the second bus also went by before I could reach the stop). I waited.
And waited. The sun was getting pretty damn hot.
Finally, a bus pulled up. I gathered my bags and boarded. The driver eyed my plants and told me to hang on to them. Right, of course, I nodded -- they were hanging plants, and I wasn't dumb enough to hang them on the handrail, which was doubtless what he was advising against. The bus was un-airconditioned and empty save for one or two people, and I sat in the first front-facing seat, the one with a little extra space by my feet so I could put my things there.
I had to unlatch the seat to put it down; the driver seemed to be waiting for me to settle in before moving. Self-consciously, I hurried to sit down and tuck my plant next to my feet. Pause. Bus not moving.
"We're not moving until you pick up that plant," the driver announced. "If I have to tell you again, you're getting off the bus."
Huh? It's not supposed to touch the floor of the bus? What am I supposed to do with it? I took hold of the hanger and lifted it up an inch. Bus driver, glaring at me in the rear-view mirror, finally began to move the bus.
Bewildered, but humiliated at the scolding (for what?), I tried to levitate the plant. Why couldn't I set it down? Did he think I was some kind of troublemaker, me and my plant? It was a wide-bottomed pot, certainly not about to tip over. There was almost nobody on the bus but me, so why would I have to keep it in my lap? Was it okay for me to set down my other bags? I was half-inclined to get off his damn bus, rather than obey him. Had I done anything at all that warranted being threatened with being kicked off the bus? I could feel my face turning red. But the idea of waiting ANOTHER half hour in the murderous heat was almost worse than my current situation.
Bus Driver was a jerky driver, coming to abrupt stops and slamming the gas pedal down when he was ready to go again. The plants whacked my shins every time he pulled over to pick someone up, and were starting to look a little worse for wear. The burro tail was shedding little burro-tail things. My wrist was starting to ache. I tried gripping the hanger another way, and my fingers started burning. I sneakily tried to balance it on my foot, but then my foot began to cramp.
It was a long ride.
I made it back to the mall, eventually, and exited from the rear door of the bus to avoid any further words with the bus driver. I set my things down, wrung out my aching hands, and gathered everything up again. As it turned out, I had to pass the front of the bus again on my way past it; the bus driver was standing outside of the door, reading a paper, looking away from me. I was terribly tempted to flip him off. I am not usually the kind of person who flips bus drivers off. It's amazing what a little respect, or lack thereof, can do to a person.
I had belatedly thought of something else to look for at the mall, and went to a store I'd missed on the way out earlier in the day. They did indeed have what I was looking for, and I got in line to pay for it, setting my bags and my plants down at my feet. My hands were still trembling a little from having gripped those goddamn plants for half an hour. The woman ahead of me in line had a toddler. It was the Slowest Line in the World. The woman-ahead-of-me was making the sales clerk take their newly-purchased doll out of its packaging for the toddler. A lot of things needed to be snipped and pulled open to accomplish this; the woman-ahead-of-me seemed oblivious to the growing line behind her. Finally, the doll was freed and handed to the toddler, who looked completely indifferent to it. The little girl clutched the doll, toddled two steps, and tripped. She sprawled directly onto my plant. (She hadn't tripped over it, but she did land on it. The area near the register was so cluttered that an adult could hardly navigate it, much less a baby.) Mom dragged toddler back up, and I handed her the doll again. Nobody apologized. My plant now looked sat on. The burro's tail shed some more burro-tail-things in sympathy.
I continued onward after paying for my purchase, with plants and packages in tow. As I paused to regroup halfway down the mall, a woman my age complimented me on the burro's tail and told me that it would thrive with almost no care. Only if it makes it home in one piece, I said.
I picked up my packages again, trying to hold both plants' hangers in one hand without the burro's tail squishing the larger plants. I took two steps, and my hand rebelled, letting one hanger slip. The burro's tail managed, despite its hanger, to land upside-down in a shower of burro-tail-things and one entire severed tail.
I stuffed what used to be the nicest-looking burro's tail at Target back into its pot and readjusted my grip, hooking the hanger around my fingers. I made it all the way back to the bus stop and sat on the sidewalk, trying to ignore the fact that now some muscles in the middle of my back had begun twitching spasmodically. I stretched one way. I stretched the other way. The plant the toddler had sat on was swooning. The truncated burro's tail was, surprisingly, not too bad, although some of the tails were looking a bit stripped. I considered abandoning the large pot.
The bus was due in two minutes, but true to form it was twenty minutes or more in the hot sun before it arrived. This bus driver said nothing about my plants. I promised myself that when I got home I would go for a nice, cool swim. The hell with the laundry. I'd throw some in before I went to the pool.
I made it back up to the apartment, checked phone messages, and took care of the laundry before putting on my swimming suit. I usually put on normal clothes over it and remove them poolside, but I'd thrown all the sweaty clothes I was wearing into the washer. What the hell -- I wrapped a towel around my shoulders and went to the pool. It was, surprisingly, empty, on such a hot day. I unlocked the gate -- the water seemed awfully still, and the hot tub was off. Was the filter running at all?
The water was cloudy. And greenish.
I didn't want to cross the busy street half-naked to go to the complex's other pool, which is better cared for but also is heated. Instead, I gritted my teeth, promised myself a cool shower instead, and went back to the apartment. There was an advantage to being half-naked -- the breeze felt pretty damn good. It was considerably cooler at the complex, near the ocean, than it had been inland while I was shopping.
I got back in the apartment, and Ken got home before I could get in the shower. I made dinner and did more laundry and finally got in the shower half an hour ago. It did feel good. We both played with Rat, who will be going to her new home tomorrow. I tried to feel good about that.
This really did start out as a damn good day, and though I was upset by some of it I'm still not in a bad mood. My plant looks truly sorry, but if I'd had any brains I wouldn't have bought it to begin with -- those mixed planters at department stores always look nice to begin with, but I can't maintain one to save my life. And they always get too damaged on the way home.