Has this ever happened to you? You’re off to run errands — you get in the car, and realize you have forgotten (fill in the blank: shopping list, coupons, sunglasses, water …). Unless you’re super-organized, you have done that. And if you never have, please don’t tell me!
So the other day, I got in the car, backed out of the garage, reached for my water bottle and … no water. Now this is the desert and September is still plenty hot, so I don’t go anywhere without a bottle of water. So, I stop the car and get out and go back to the house, unlock the steel security door and then the wood door, go inside and snag the water, go back out locking both doors and then unlocking the car which I’d locked out of force of habit. The whole exercise was less than a minute — let’s call it 45 seconds. How much difference can 45 seconds make?
Two blocks later I turn the corner just as the school bell rings and the door burst open at the elementary school, unleashing a torrent of kids. The kids have enough sense not to run into the street, but the parents are another matter making illegal U-turns, double parking, stopping in the middle of the street and motioning to their kid to run across to them, and otherwise doing everything possible to snarl traffic. The flashing sign says “15 miles an hour.” I wish! It’s more like 15 feet an hour. Finally, I inch through and end up right behind a big yellow school bus belching exhaust fumes.
We get to the corner just as the signal turns red. The school bus, of course, can’t turn right on red, so we sit there for nearly 90 seconds (this is one of the longest signals in Las Vegas coming from a small street onto a main boulevard) until we get a green light. I whip around the dratted bus, finally seeing clear street ahead of me — but not. There is some kind of slow down, but I am now behind a panel van and can’t see what’s happened.
It turns out that what’s happened is somebody just rear-ended another car, and it’s in my lane, but of course I don’t know that because I’m behind a van. The other two lanes move forward, but not mine. After two signal cycles, I manage to change lanes and as I drive by, I toss them a dirty look — only to realize the car in front of me is stopped dead. I screech to a halt with maybe three inches to spare. The driver in front of me tosses me a dirty look in his rear-view mirror.
At this point I’m thinking I should just turn around and go home, but my $10 free merchandise coupon expires today and I desperately need some new socks. I’m finally free of the school zone, the van, the accident and now it’s a straight shot to Kohl’s. I know what I want and where to get it, so I should be able to get in and out quickly. And I do! Well, almost. I snag a package of athletic socks which are $13.50 — perfect.
So I get to the cash register. There are three registers open and only two people in line. I get there at the same time as another lady — we glance at each other and then I step back and let her go ahead — she only has one item, a coffee pot.
But it isn’t smooth sailing. Why did I think it would be? Cashier #3 closes for her break. Well, still two cashiers so it can’t take that long. The next person in line has a huge stack of shirts and shoes and several coupons. She’s just ready to pay when the cashier says “would you like to open a Kohl’s account today? It would save you 20%.” Oh, merciful heavens. They go on and on — she’s not sure; she wants to know how much 20% would come to; she already has so many accounts; what would her husband say…
At last cashier #2 is free and the lady in front of me — the one who has just the coffee pot — steps up and explains that this is an exchange. The cashier rings it up at $15.30. “But when I bought it before, it was only $13.50. I shouldn’t have to pay the difference.” The cashier scans something, pulls out an ad and tells her the sale price has expired. She isn’t going to let it go. He finally calls for a manager. At least I’m standing there with a package of socks and not a quart of ice cream! I have now been standing in line for about 8 minutes. All because I went back to get a bottle of water!
Cashier #1 is now done with the lady who finally declined to open the credit card and I step up. With my coupon, it comes to $3.50 plus tax. I have money in my hand when he says, “Oh, wait, that’s not right.” Noooo!!! It’s a good thing I’m holding a package of socks and not an axe or machete because I am very close to a homicidal rage. “Here,” he says, swiping something across the scanner. “It’s $2.80.” “How did that happen?” I ask. “I gave you the 20% off family and friends discount.” It saved me a whole 70 cents — the best thing that’s happened to me all day.
I plunk down my money and head, gratefully, for home. I catch all the green lights, take a quick jog over the freeway (which is what I should have done on the outbound trip) and am home, safe and sound with my new socks in just over an hour. A trip that should have taken 30 minutes — 40, tops — ate up all that extra time just because I went back to get my bottle of water.
And the worst part? As I get out of the car, I realize I never even took the top off the water bottle.