Saturday, March 7, 2009

24: The Trouble with Milk, Air Filters and Checkout Lines




The following takes place between 1:30 and 2:20 PM.


I pull into the Wal-Mart parking lot, observant as usual. A parking space is available up close. So far so good. I enter the store. First stop, diapers. First problem. The ones that I want have only one box left, and the top of the box has been compromised. It’s partially open. After a quick check of the contents, I can see that the inner seal is still intact. Fog averted. Item #1 acquired.


I’m getting them.


While shopping at Wal-Mart during naptime, speed is of the essence. Allowing a few extra seconds for each item on the list can be near-fatal when trying to live on the schedule of three babies. I try to act casual. Much more casual than I feel. I’m a daddy on a mission.


Next stop. Milk aisle. I stop for Asia’s whole milk, and suddenly realize that almost every gallon has been compromised by a dairy disturbance. Milk is dripping all over the milk compartment, making a Wal-Mart size mess. I finally find the good gallon, expiration date acceptable. I’m on my way. The Fog is coming closer.


Next, I need a new air filter for our heater. Our old one should have been replaced 6 days ago. Shame. Shame.


Filter size needed: 20x25x1. Inches, not feet. The brand I used before has every size but that. I look some more. Not available. Should I ask for help? No. I would rather fumble my way through the Fog than ask for help. What can I say? I’m male. Who do you think starts wars and then writes books about them anyway?


There is a 3M alternative. But it’s more expensive. But wait, it also lasts longer. Some quick calculating show that the 3M filter will cost 4x as much as my normal filter and last 3x as long, which will mean an end price difference of about 25%. Or something like that. But, with the amount of time saved and the fact that the 3M filter is probably better for babies, (I saw the commercial on TV) I decide to go for it. 3M it is.


Finally, last stop. Lunch meat. I wait in line. I wait some more. I still am having more trouble than usual reading my watch because of the cheese that somehow got smeared over the watch face…I wonder who did that…


The lady finally says “next.” I get my meat and head to the cash register. This is where the Fog usually strikes, when all bets on choosing the fastest line are off. It seems like no matter which line I pick, I always end up behind the person who thinks that the sugar she is buying should be 30 cents cheaper and the cashier has to call the manager who has to get a price check to come in from the plantation in Hawaii where the sugar was grown before I can pay for my stuff.


This time, it’s me. For the first time ever, my signature is not accepted on the credit card screen. I write it again. This time it works. I must be more tired than I thought. I can’t even write my own name. The Fog of Fatherhood has come. I’m enveloped. I’m also driving.
Next episode: Asia Awakes!

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