Feeding the Machine

I walked alone around Costco last week, wheeling my squeaky cart with abandon around tight corners, stopping to finger t-shirts and 6-packs of organic chicken stock, smiling blankly at people, speaking only to excuse myself when they tried to get around me.


Once, my solitude of choice was found in a notebook and a pen. That was how I retrieved my centre. Notebook, pen and coffee. Notebook, pen and wine. Notebook, pen and music. Me, notebook, pen.

These days, when granted an hour of free time, I choose to get in the car and head to a big box store. Truly. The week before last, it was Superstore. The groceries I picked up were incidental (except at Costco I do go specifically for the kilo of chips). I went for the Quiet. Yes, in the middle of Costco, with seventeen different noises assaulting my tender ear and surrounded by women in hairnets offering me warmed appetizers and lemonade, it is quiet as if I had applied airport-grade hearing protection.

The philosophy of the big box store is balm for my over-stretched skin right now. I am no one at Costco. No one is anyone at Costco. You find what you need, you pay your money, you get out. No one is going to ask to help you. No one is going to offer to carry your stuff. There isn’t even an express line for 12 items or less. Suck it up. It’s Costco.

As I have become less form, more function in my new gig as mother to two, sometimes it is soothing to slough it all off and become a ghost, wandering the isles lined with sky-high shelves stacked with hundred-packs of pens and notebooks, not even seeing them, much less considering their possible use.

Perhaps this silence of anonymity partially explains all those terrible stories where a person is murdered in broad daylight and none of the many bystanders steps in to help. Perhaps all of those bystanders have lives too noisy, too needy, too responsible and they have gone too far in the other direction, to a place where they apply blinders when they leave their homes so that they may have a few minutes of non-responsibility, non-needy, non-noise.

Probably I could get it together for five minutes to call 911 if I saw someone being murdered in the street. But that guy whose shopping list dropped out of his back pocket in front of the cases of tomato soup? When I’m off-duty, he’s on his own.

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