The other day my friend Anna and I were looking for a table. A kitchen table, actually. Quickly this simple excursion turned into a tedious one. We were continuously met with dead ends. Some stores were closed. Some didn’t have what we were looking for. And some, located in the 'shadier sides of town', greeted us with bars on the windows. Insightfully, we opted against these ones. Furniture shopping was becoming about as painful as getting a colonoscopy. Though of equal importance.
Suddenly, the heavens parted and sunbeams gleamed down over a magical furniture shop. No really, the rain suddenly stopped as we pulled up to this particular shop. It must have been a sign. We found exactly what we were looking for. We took lots of pictures to send to her husband for joint approval of the purchase.
Mission was accomplished. Now onto something fun since we were already stuck in the ‘big city’ that we don’t get to often. We decided to get our Bed Bath and Beyond shopping fix. It had been years since either of us had made it to the enchanted store of wonder and every kitchen gadget known to man. We were in a mad state of withdrawal.
After we spent much glorious time in this place of dreams, we realized that we had in fact, lost track of time. It was- dare I say it- after dark in the scary big city. (Far, far away from somewhere like Deer River where the scariest thing that comes out after dark are the black bears and foxes.)
As we were walking out, we noticed a cop in the parking lot, just sitting there. Looking for some riff-raff, no doubt. We continued on into the car. For a short moment I was glad Anna was driving, knowing there was no chance we’d have to worry about being pulled over for speeding.
I must take a quick moment here to explain Anna’s driving. It’s not that she is a bad driver. It’s more like she’s an 80 year-old near-sighted woman driver. Let’s just say she’s very cautious.
As we pulled out of the parking lot and drove around this town in which we were less than familiar, we spotted a Chipotle and were smacked in the face with an animal-like starvation that can only be compared to a National Geographic special on lions meeting wildebeests. Food not only sounded amazing- it was necessary. As soon as we located the restaurant, the turn for it whizzed past us.
Attempting to turn around at this point would have consisted of crossing 6 lanes of traffic, going through 3 lights and at least one illegal U-turn. It would have been like switching to water-saving toilet flushers - it sounded like a good idea and we would have felt good about the outcome- but wasn’t worth the headache.
I suggested that maybe if we just kept making rights- we would eventually end up back where we started. It seemed logical. So we took a right.
And somewhere in our moment of food-focused frenzy, apparently we pulled out in front of decked-out gang car with flashy rims that had somewhere he needed to be- now. The next few seconds became a blur.
My phone rang and I began the conversation of explaining that we were just grabbing something to eat quickly, and then we’d be on our way home. Mr. Flashy Rims behind us then proceeded to lay on his horn, no doubt expressing his displeasure with my grandma-like driving friend.
“Are they honking at us?” Anna asked me, innocently disgusted.
“What’s that noise?” Asked the concerned voice in my phone.
“Um, I think the guys behind us are honking.” I told everyone who could hear me. “Turn here.” I pointed. It was the next first right- and ended up being some dimly-lit back-alley road.
“Are they following us?” Anna asked. I glanced in the mirror- but all I could see was a blur of headlights.
“Hun, I gotta go- these guys are following us.” I said casually.
“I’ll call you right back,” and hung up, not waiting for a reply.
“Quick, turn here!” I quickly pointed to the next right, bringing us back into the store parking lot from the back entrance. Anna turned, and Big Rims followed in suit.
“They’re still following us!” Her voice began to shake which only made me angry. This was ridiculous. The fact that they were upsetting my friend was upsetting me. I began to feel nervous for a second, but realized I had to keep it together for her. Sure we were in the land of gangs and had heard warnings of this area- but who did these people think they were?
At this point, I was tempted to stop and tell them what I think. Then I thought of my kids. Dammit. I hated how my kids suddenly made me mortal and practical. Suddenly I had to have fear. It was bittersweet. I had to think logically.
“Just keep going and we’ll see if that police car is still there in the parking lot.”
Sure enough it was. And as we neared the police car, our ‘followers’ not-so-surprisingly veered off in another direction. We parked a few feet further up into the Chipotle parking lot. The climax of the night was over and we had arrived at our destination.
“What in the heck just happened!?” was all Anna could muster.
“I have no idea.”
“I’m not exactly hungry anymore,” she said, her hands still shaking. I wasn’t either. But I had to eat. If I didn’t eat, Mr. Rims would win. Of course he would never know.
I ate my 5lb chicken burrito on the way home. I couldn’t help but think that mean people really suck. And so does table shopping.