"Time lost is never found again." Benjamin Franklin.
If you have ever wanted to experience the strange sensation of simultaneously feeling your time to be slipping away at a prodigious clip and slowing down to the point of entropy, then take your elderly mother food shopping on a Sunday afternoon, which coincides with the Social Security check hitting the bank account, prior to an expected snowstorm, in a town 90 minutes from your own home, populated by people with a median age of around 70.
I have a curious relationship with time. When I can safely waste it, I will. When I don't have it is when I perform at my best. When needs be, I am a patient man; however, I do hate to wait for anything, and when I have something I would rather be (or should be) doing, I can't wait to get at it, just so that I can get it done.
Anything that interrupts this exquisite balance of procrastination, impatience and desperately-furious activity that I have developed for myself drives me batshit. It triggers something bordering on rage.
So, here we are. My mother needs to go shopping, so I have to drive all the way out to the ass-end of New Jersey. If it weren't for the circumstance that she lives there, I cannot think of any other reason an intelligent and discerning individual would volunteer to do so. New Jersey is to "desirable places to visit" what Herpes is to "perfect Valentine's Day Gift."
The local supermarket is surrounded by retirement "communities", that is to say, concentration camps for the elderly and infirm, who, if our society was really as cold, cruel and un-progressive as the Left continuously tells us it is, would have been converted to fertilizer quite some time ago.
All the makings of the Perfect Shitstorm.
The Sunday paper means the new circulars are here. Coupons galore! Several hundred thousand people with one foot in the grave who have been conditioned by 70 or so years of dumbfuck to equate the arrival of snow with the possibility that there may NEVER be any milk or bread ever again. People living on "fixed incomes" (which are always coming out of someone else's pocket, and yet somehow keep getting fixed upwards by Washington in an effort to buy votes) for whom that 20% off on denture paste or incontinence products means the difference between the "good" canned dog food and the sub-standard stuff (for personal consumption, not the dog's). These people get in their cars -- which they cannot drive for osteoporosis, cataracts and a lack of a prescription windshield -- clog up the roads, nearly cause 17 accidents in the lot attempting to park, then flood the supermarket, shuffling along at a glacial pace upon surgically-repaired knees and hips (courtesy of the taxpayer!), blocking the aisles, running over your heels with their carts, and generally stinking the place up with the combination of Old People, Ben Gay and mothballs.
When I go shopping, I know ahead of time what I want, and then I know where to find it. I get it, I put in my cart, and when I have everything I need, I go pay and then get the fuck out. On average, shopping for Mrs. Overlord and I is an operation I can complete within 30 minutes or less. Not here.
Because this is also a SOCIAL occasion, you see. For many of these ancient douchebags this might be the only time they get out all month. And they all know one another. Or maybe Alzheimer's sets in and they THINK they all know one another, and this leads to a cessation of shopping activity about every 4-and-a-half minutes while they all stop and talk to one another about who recently died, their varicose veins, the virtues of Epsom Salts, trying to one-up one another with the list of medications they're taking and maladies, and the weather. To judge by the pallor everyone is sporting (indicative of a vitamin D deficiency) you get the impression so many of these folks are shut-ins that they may have forgotten what weather IS.
Invariably, these discussions lead to one place -- regularity, or rather, lack of it -- and this suddenly reminds everyone they need to hit the laxative aisle, now crowded into complete inertia by some 12 or 14 old bastards comparing prices and looking for that coupon they clipped (you have to get "the right one", after all), and of course, talking about more recently deceased acquaintances.
Seriously, if this is old age fucking kill me now.
We have now been inside the Supermarket, trapped among the Circling the Bowl Set, for one hour. The contents of the shopping cart are enough to make you want to gag: hair color (the Cesar Romero-Lucille Ball Ludicrously-bright red is the most-popular among the biddies). Plug-in air fresheners and ironing starch (only because she had a coupon, you see). Chewing gum (the 10-pack, with coupon, on sale. I'm told that you can trade it in the "Retirement Home" for favors, which makes the place seem even more like prison). The cart is half-full of non-food items before we even get to the food part of the store. This next phase, buying food, itself, is an exercise in sheer aggravation.
Because everything must be sniffed. It must be squeezed. Individual items must be correlated with the matching coupon.
And here, I must stop for a moment to make a remark about fucking coupons.
To whoever is sending these things out, stop. Seriously. There is more acrimony about coupons, more time lost to price checks and barcodes that can't be read, questions asked about poorly-worded terms and conditions, and interminable arguments that are generated by a 20-cents off when you buy the 12-count package of panty shields and the 16-count generic package is only 22-cents more. I guess that 2-cents makes a great deal of difference -- what? are you going to retire (again) on it? -- when possessed of a spastic bladder that causes you to befoul yourself every other hour, does this mean a) everyone in the supermarket needs to know, via loudspeaker, that there's a price check needed on old people's undergarments, and b) can we find a more-productive use for our time?
Besides, if you have the supermarket "discount card", you don't need to clip coupons, Dickhead. I understand these new-fangled computer thingies confuse the unholy fuck out of you (mostly because of all the acid you dropped, you fucking Hippie!), but they save you (and by extension, ME) a lot of time and effort, and frankly, who gives a shit if the government can track YOU with it? You don't seem to have a problem with the government knowing where you are when the check arrives every month, do you?
The discounts should already be in the computer system, obviating the need for a coupon. However, if you didn't give the old bastards an activity (cutting things out of the newspaper) and then a reason or two to continue living (saving money! a trip to the supermarket...like...in open air...with people!), they wouldn't come in.
Which leads to another series of problems.
Since every scoliosis and cataract case in central New Jersey all came in armed simultaneously with a fistful of coupons and in dire need of suppositories, the shelves are quickly left barren, as if a plague of dusty, waiting-to-be-embalmed locusts had just passed through. This means that by the time I make the Great Trek to the blasted heath of Freehold to take Mom to the store, all the things she planned to buy with the coupons she laboriously accumulated are gone.
Because all the other decrepit mummies got there first and bought six pounds of coffee (that they won't live long enough to drink) because "stock up" and "coupon". Which leads to the word I hate to hear more than "Liberal"....RAINCHECK.
And this is when you discover that just when you began to believe there couldn't be any more extraordinarily-slow, creaking-jointed, cantankerous, just-glad-to-have-human-contact fucktards about, you have to stand on line to get some rainchecks for items that were on sale, for which you have the stupid coupon, but which are no longer on the shelves...and here is another battalion of them.
The complaining! The repeated "you can't do this to people!" routine (yes, because running out of your favorite denture cleaner was a deliberate act, intended to piss you, specifically, off. Another benefit: anger keeps the circulation going). It's a fucking crime and a travesty that you couldn't get the big container of Metamucil because only the small ones are left. Naturally, it's a disaster on par with Mount St. Helens or the Fukushima nuclear plant that the coupon says "16 -ounce can" and there's only 8-ounce cans left. All this means, you old fart, is that of the least-mobile people on Earth, you happened to be the slowest and even-lesser-mobile.
Congratulations. If there was an Olympic medal to be handed out for it, you just won the Aluminum for the 1,000 meter "Walk an aisle without having to avoid stepping on your own balls or tits at least twice" event.
What's funny is that this is the Woodstock generation, which spends so much of it's available time chasing after perpetual youth, started the whole "Healthy Living" craze, and bitched like you wouldn't believe when their own parents lived past 60. You all once thought you would "Change the World" and "Speak Truth to Power" and this is what you are reduced to -- arguing with a 16-year-old customer service worker over a can of Kraft grated Parmesan cheese and a voucher that mystically entitles you to "dibs" on the next batch that comes in.
Assuming you continue breathing long enough to see the next batch.
Because that coupon represents 50-cents that might come in handy, one day. Because it's not like you are being given money that you don't deserve and didn't earn, but which was taken from your children and grandchildren, because you've already outlived your own contributions, simply for continuing to show signs of not being in a coma and/or vegetative state, right?
And a vote.
Now, it does not bother me that my mother needs to go shopping. It also doesn't really bother me that much that I need to spend 3-hours, round-trip, in the car to help her do it (I enjoy most aspects of driving, except traffic, and without Mrs. Overlord along, I get to listen to what I want to on the radio. Like the ball game). What I object to is the utter wastage of my time.
It's as if there is a conspiracy to devalue my time. As if my time is less-important than everyone else's.
If it isn't the idiot who causes traffic to back up by straddling two lanes, or making half-a-turn to beat a light and then getting stuck behind other vehicles, it's the old woman driving a 1985 Lincoln Continental who can't get the sucker into a spot without inching forwards and backwards 81 times, while not being able to see over the dash. It's the exhausting and time-consuming snail's-pace shuffle through the supermarket behind, between and within people who have nothing BUT time, are quite happy to waste it and in the process waste your's, and who don't seem to give a fuck about it.
What's the big deal if I've stopped four times in five feet? I like to take my time when choosing a loaf of bread, to make sure I get the "good" bread, even if that means 15 minutes and not a loaf left undented. So what if I'm chatting up the checker because this is the first human face I've seen in weeks? Did you have someplace better to be and something better to do?
Why, yes, I did. And those would be: someplace where you aren't, you fucking fossil, and doing something that does not involve listening to all of your arteries harden in unison. Especially when it involves a 3-hour drive.
I tend to get testy when chores drag on and I'm doing someone else a favor by helping them. I get impatient when I'm watching someone do something I know I can do faster and with less inconvenience lollygagging. I hate aging hippies. I hate them even more in groups of more than one. I I become enraged when aging hippies -- who have ruined everything in this country with their no-fault divorce, conditional ethics, drug habits (both recreational and the stuff they need to stay alive for no obvious reasons that someone else pays for, too), appalling lack of honesty, and propensity to vote democrat (small 'd' intentional) just so the Gravy Train (both the figurative kind and the real kind that you eat in place of real meat that you can't afford) can continue -- turn a simple, straightforward process like obtaining provisions into a trial by ordeal, a Tour De Force of Dementia and Erectile Dysfunction.
I think that from now on, I shall have Mother Overlord just dictate a list of things she needs, I will get them in less time than that needed to boil a kettle, and then make the 90 minute drive to deliver them to her, just to save the two hours of torture in between. Sure, it means she won't have an excuse to get outside and feel the sun on her face (which will give her skin cancer, anyway), but it's probably a lot healthier for me.