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Monday, 08 December
Petula Clark Can Shove It

As Jesusmas approaches, I've been trying diligently to do all my shopping online, for obvious reasons: mainly, I hate people. More to the point, I hate crowds, and shopping crowds are to be assiduously avoided, like poison clouds, or eggplant. So online shopping has been a real boon for misanthropes like me everywhere.

Except for this one fucking thing I've been looking for--for the wife--that I obviously can't go into here. Suffice it to say that while I could find this particular thing available online, I didn't feel good about actually buying one, and if there is a drawback to online purchases, it's the squidginess of returning shit. Do I want to have to write an email, wait for a return tag, box the fucking thing back up and wait (maybe) for a replacement? No, I do not. What I want to do is to drive like a mad bastard downtown and fling the offending object at some clerk-ape and snarl, "I need this in the correct size for my pissed-off wife! She thinks I don't know what size she wears!" (She is correct, of course.) Then I expect the clerk-ape to lope into the back room and return with the fucking thing I should have bought in the first place. That's what I want, not all this fuckery with the boxes and the mail and tap tap tap where's my shit?

(I worked in retail for five years, so I am not actually cruel to the luckless bonesacks who work there, but I am fond of thinking about torturing them. But then I remember that there is no worse torture than retail.)

So, with a heavy heart, today after work I trudged downtown. And it wasn't long before I got my first little heartwarming holidaytime vignette. I was strolling down Olive St., vengefully smoking, when all of a sudden, BIP! BIP! BIP! Some asshole honking his puny, Lilliputian horn, over and over. I looked down the street, and I saw that a little, gray-haired, stooped old lady was trying to cross the street, and she was clearly having trouble walking, BECAUSE SHE'S A LITTLE OLD LADY FOR CHRIST'S SAKE, and she hadn't quite made it to the other side of the street before the light changed. AND THIS ASSHOLE IS HONKING AT HER. I craned my neck to get a better look at the offending vehicle, and . . . you're going to love this. It was a parking enforcement vehicle. A goddamn meter-ghoul was honking at an old, tiny person who was having trouble getting across the street because she was holding up the delivery of his next really important officious $44 holiday wedgiegram to some fool who might have parked too close to the poisonous yellow curb-paint.

Then something kind of great happened. The little old lady stopped, dead in the street, still right in front of the meter-ghoul, and turned her head to look at the bastard. BIP! BIP! BIP! continued the stupid little widget-car, snotty little blasts on the hornlet, sounding like an imperious little microwave with outsized dreams of world domination. The old lady stood there for a moment, and then waggled her finger at the meter-ghoul! This was so great, I did a little hornpipe on the sidewalk in impromptu celebration of such a display of righteousness. Fuck you, chowderhead! You're a parking drone, what are you going to do, ticket her cane? The ridiculous little tent on wheels responded with tinny blats of impotent rage: BIP! BIP! BIP!

Finally, the lady gave one of those classic hand-waves of disgusted dismissal--go suck it, parking cop!--and then finally trudged unhurriedly to the curb. The sad little parking car lurched angrily ahead, giving a final, sad BIP! on the horn in a futile attempt at retaining any kind of dignity at all.

By this point, I was only about ten feet away from her as she stoically continued down the sidewalk, so I quickened my pace a little bit to catch up with her, which I soon did. I gave her a sidelong smile as I passed, and then said, "I really liked how you handled that jerk back there."

And she looked at me and yelled, with surprising force, "Get away from me! I don't got nothing!" I started a little bit, and then, deciding that nothing more was to be gained by pursuing this line of conversation, obliged her, and stepped lively down the street, away from her, kind of unnerved and feeling like a dope. A few seconds later, I heard her scream, "Fucking maniacs!"

This is what I miss by doing all of my shopping online, I thought, rubbing shoulders with other people just like me.

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.


You know, if you cooked the eggplant in hot pickle juice, I think you'd like it.

Comment number: 004026   Posted by: avocadro on December 8, 2003 09:05 PM from IP:

Right up until the part where she said "Fucking maniacs!" I thought it might have been my mom.

Comment number: 004027   Posted by: stennie on December 8, 2003 10:05 PM from IP:

Fucking maniacs!

Comment number: 004028   Posted by: granny on December 8, 2003 10:11 PM from IP:

I'm not particularly familiar with the work of Petula Clark (call me Zombie, retard, stupid), so please explain why she should shove it?

Comment number: 004029   Posted by: Anna on December 9, 2003 03:13 AM from IP:

Part of why I like shopping online is BECAUSE of the "returning stuff" problem. The only thing worse than waiting in line during the weeks before Christmas to buy something that probably won't fit whoever it's intended for is waiting in the longer, "customer-service" line to return the thing that definitely didn't fit the person it was given to.

So last year I bought a sweater for my wife online. When I opened it I discovered that they shipped it with the ink tag, that stupid piece of plastic designed to keep people from stealing shit, still attached. I wrote them an email asking them how I could get this fixed and they asked me to take it to a nearby mall, where they had a store. So not only did I have to wait to get the attention of a teen-age, trendy goth face-full-of-piercings girl, but before getting to the store I set off the stop-stealing-shit alarm at the Hecht's, which I walked through to get into the mall. The alarm went off when I entered the store from the outside, then it went off again when I left to enter the mall. Apparently this was nothing new, as no one bothered to track me down and make sure I hadn't stolen some shit.

She did wear the sweater once or twice, though.

Comment number: 004030   Posted by: i on December 9, 2003 05:32 AM from IP:

Petula Clark sang "Downtown."

Comment number: 004031   Posted by: Anapestic on December 9, 2003 07:14 AM from IP:

I thought you were going to say that she gave the parking moron the finger. Heh. That would have been funnier. You should change that. Yeah.

Comment number: 004032   Posted by: Stacey on December 9, 2003 10:58 AM from IP:

Actually there was real suspense in the story--For a minute I thought: What's she gonna do? I thought she might engage in some sit down strike or perhaps whip out a revolver.

I have a total soft spot in my heart for old people (don't ask me why). And when they get scared and cranky like that I think: God, what do people DO to these poor old people? Being old must suck.

Comment number: 004033   Posted by: Miel on December 9, 2003 11:26 AM from IP:

I have no sympathy for cranky old people. Unless they have Alzheimer's or something.

Comment number: 004034   Posted by: spacewaitress on December 9, 2003 06:55 PM from IP:

Fucking awesome.

Comment number: 004035   Posted by: Joel on December 9, 2003 08:46 PM from IP:

Oh, I am so with you on the Petula Clark sentiment. And as for the old lady, I just hope I can be like her when I'm old -- slow-moving, paranoid, and righteously pissed. Then everyone will have to excuse my weirdness, because I'm a senior citizen.

Comment number: 004036   Posted by: Romy on December 11, 2003 10:34 AM from IP:

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