Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Big Box Store

Earlier this spring I visited Winnipeg, a southern Canadian city. One aspect of a Northerner trip south is the desire to see stores, big stores with lots of stuff in them. We used to pack an empty suitcase down to haul back "treasures" but now we limit ourselves to an annual renewal of our maple syrup cache. Still, I couldn't resist the lure of an expedition to a big box store.

In the old fashioned downtown department store, laid out in the familiar prairie survey grid, you went directly to the "department" which had your pants or hardware. The big box store is different. Entering the store requires sophisticated route finding skills. The store map, vague blobs floating on white, doesn't tell you where to go, rather it outlines your Quest. After passing through the one way gate there is no return. You can only go onwards.

First you must pass through the awesome hall of rooms. A maze of Nordic dining suites, kitchen cabinetry and living rooms demand your attention and lure you from your quest. Maybe what I'm looking for is in one of these rooms. While I meet no monsters neither do I find my treasure.

Passages are packed with towering stacks of menacing upholstery, each piece tempting me to touch, to lie, to sleep, perhaps forever.

Onward into the chamber of children's toys. On first approach they appear innocent if numerous. However as I pass by their convolutions induce vertigo and I am drawn into their spell.

While fighting off their spell I am accosted by a triad of wheelie trucks clearly bent on my demise. Happily their inability to leap from the shelf allows me to escape their clutches and I move onward, lost in the cornucopia of fantastical domesticity.

Next, I fell into the quicksand pit of utensils. Hordes of neon noodle rakes, spatuelae, ladles, spoons, knives and whisks barred my way. I panicked and ran.

A new vista opened. With relief I noted the square grid pattern, my old navigation skills might still help me. I looked at awe at how the many wonders I'd viewed in the upper world of the Quest were now compressed into neat flat cardboard boxes. Here at last there was order, the chaos of plenty captured and controlled.

But rounding the last corner I saw the exit before me. There was but one final gauntlet of special items, sales pieces and the last chance hot dog stand to run through. Clutching the soon to be mine Jansjo "Uses LEDs, which consumes up to 80% less energy and last 20 times longer" lamp, I bounded to the counter, presented my magic plastic card and made a break for the crisp spring air outside.

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