On Sunday, I was trapped at the Rochester, MN super-Walmart with my girlfriend as we waited for their "tire center" to put a new tire on my car (my Honda blew a tire just as we rolled into Lanesboro, MN for a wedding). Why Walmart? Because it was a Sunday and I just wanted a new goddamn tire and I thought everything else would be closed. Little did I know, the apparent convenience would not only be a mirage, but would also cost me a cross-section of my very soul.
The tire lady, who looked like a friendly creature from Where the Wild Things Are, told us it would take about two hours to put a new tire on, due to the five blowouts that had preceded us there. Whatever, I decided, too hung over from the wedding the night before to think rationally, though all I wanted on the planet Earth at that moment was to return to my bed quickly and sleep for ten years straight. And so our Old Testament-esque wanderings in the desert of capitalism began, not with a roar but with a who-gives-a-fuck.
The new, modern day desert is shiny. It beeps and has a Subway and a grocery store and video screens built into the ends of several aisles, video screens that advertise products just like Blade Runner and every other dystopic sci-fi movie has promised us. It has three different video game systems where you can try out video games much harder to figure out than your old video games. It has greeting cards and fat people too lazy to push their own cart and who instead ride around on those lawn mower/scooter things with baskets on them. It has everything you need to ease the pain of modern existence, including lawn chairs, but after about twenty minutes I felt myself fading. By forty minutes I'd had it, by sixty minutes I tried to pretend I still wanted to buy the shit I'd picked out, and by eighty minutes I was playing Angry Birds out in the lobby on my cell phone, wedged between a belching old lady and a pretty young lady spending a good half hour of her life picking out a one dollar Red Box DVD rental.
Finally, we ambled back to the tire center, though the promised call to my cell phone had not been made. By all appearances, my car had been ready to go for a good while and the clerk made no apologies for not summoning us. Instead of delivering a good strong slapping, I merely paid my bill in silence, 75 bucks for their cheapest goddamn tire, and we headed back to I-35, exhausted and stunned by the whole shopping ordeal. My girlfriend, who'd only bought a bag of pretzels the whole time, took over driving from me and let me sleep in the passenger seat with a blanket over my head.
She may have saved my life.