Sep 3, 2007

Labor Day Heat; Mervyns Apocalypto Sale


Southern California has been experiencing a record heat wave, and to me, it’s God’s way of giving us a preview of hell. Heat, despair, power outages, and everyone running to the mall for air conditioning. That was Larry' and my brilliant idea yesterday. “Let’s go to the mall, where it’ll be cool.” Only everyone else had the same idea, and the volume of bodies soaked up what A/C was happening.

The place looked like Grand Central Station. Except at Grand Central Station, the people move quickly and with purpose, because they’re New Yorkers. The mob at the Galleria shuffled aimlessly or sat on the ground propped against the store windows. The kids were tantrumy and the adults loud. How does one pull off listless AND loud? I wished I’d brought my ear plugs.

We went to see the newly opened Target, but it was on the other side of the mall: an obstacle course through noise and smell of people who do not believe in antiperspirant.

Larry was deluded into thinking Target might carry Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass CD. And I that they'd carry webcams for Macs. But no, it's a hip-hop Ashley Simpson, Windows XP world at Target.

We caromed back through Mervyns, where they were apparently having an “Apocalypto Sale.” The floor was scattered with merchandise; as if the US had suffered economic collapse and everyone had panicked for supplies. You know, survival supplies like "Pirates 3" t-shirts and lead paint toys from China and polyester tops for hookers.

We wished we’d exited the mall at Target and gone back via the street.. Who cared if it was a furnace outside? At least it was quiet.

On the way home, we stopped at the supermarket to buy comfort food, which at this point meant anything in the frozen food aisle. Ah, frozen fish sticks! Who cares if I never eat them. I can sit on them on the ride home.

The lady bagging our groceries was of limited mental capabilities, and she dumped our strawberries onto the counter.

-- What do I do now? She frowned at the checker
-- Go get another box.
--- You mean I gotta go get more?

It was not strawberry season. Leaving our replacement box to a woman of questionable IQ was not going to happen, so I said I’d go pick it out myself.

I closed in on the wilted strawberry display, I heard her disgruntled voice behind me. “I had to come back this way, anyway, lady.”
“I don’t work here,” I snapped. Like it was MY job to dispose of the ruined box?
She sighed and waddled off to the employee break room.
I’d had the last word. And boy did I feel shitty about it.

We pulled out of the parking lot, I wanted to go back and apologize. Maybe she’d been in jail and the store had given her one last chance to turn her life around. Maybe this was the only job she could do, and spilling the berries was her third strike before getting fired.

Larry and I talk about creating a world where God’s kingdom can really come: A world of justice and mercy for the oppressed. A life that's counter to greedy consumerism.

And I was NOT living that life. Yeah, it had been a hot day and we’d been assaulted by a mob of consumers at the mall. But we had gone to the mall, too. We’d been worshiping at the temple of Buy, even if we didn’t put down any money.

Later last night Larry and I read from a book about this very subject, how to bring about God's world today, now. And all I could think was, “I dissed the feeble-minded box lady. I suck."

Every generation has a new word for that kingdom come: a shining city on the hill, Utopia, Nirvana, and a brand new way to make it happen. But there's this problem: human nature. We dream big and always trip up when it comes to the everyday stuff, like being kind to the feeble or undeserving.

I pray for grace to do that in the little things. Cooler temperatures will also help.

3 comments:

Debs said...

Hey Suz,

What ever happened to Mr. Wilson's blogging? I used to love reading the "She said He said" versions of the stories. I guess since you are now married he figured out that you know best. ;-)

Stephanie said...

I want to know the same thing! Does he know that some rather supercilious comments have been made by self-promoters over there lately?

And here's something else, Mrs. Wilson. Feeble-minded box lady has the same obligation and the same ability you do to be nice to people. She's not less capable just because she's in a crap job. Sounds like nobody was having a good day. But you don't suck. You're just human like the rest of us. (Which is harder to take sometimes, if you ask me.)

soulpadre said...

grace. it's like glory - indescribable, but you can't live in the Kingdom without it. as always I love your honesty.

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