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It started off innocently enough.

We were headed to the University Museum to soak up a bit of local culture and then off to a Chinese restaurant to scarf some much-needed General Tso’s chicken.  A delightful and enjoyable day no?

Oh, not quite Skippy, not quite. Had I shuffled through my Tarot cards, undoubtedly, it would have warned me.

We arrived at the museum with no trouble, but then the trouble began. Where to park. It seems that all parking is reserved for “staff and faculty” even those lots that abut the museums. After asking any number of students/faculty, we learned that a whopping six spots are reserved for “visitors”.

But the fun was only beginning. Upon arrival, with temps in the high 90’s,  we walked the nearly half block to the “information” gal who must spend most of her time studying, given the lack of human contact. I was asked to provide my name in writing, my phone number, my car’s license number and the names of all my first cousins. After this I received a “pass”; I was required to walk back the half block and attach same to the rearview  mirror to prevent our car being towed as some interloper and possible terrorist threat.

The museum consisted of some two rooms which with superior attention only could take a person an hour to view. And then of course, one must retrieve the “pass”. All told I spent more time walking back and forth from my car than I spent with the old pictures of downtown Las Cruces and the stick used to push holes in the ground to plant seeds.

On to the Chinese restaurant I has espied from afar as I was searching for a non-existent furniture store a few days ago. Turn left at the Japanese sushi restaurant, and drive straight back to the building entitled “Dynasty”.  Except that as we approached, it became obvious that said restaurant had been closed for some time. Which would have been no big deal, except that it was the second time in two days that I  had spied a restaurant from afar, only to find out that it was closed.

But what is this?

A K-Mart!

We were in the market for sunglasses. The brightness of the sun here is not to be believed, so some good and big glasses were in order.

I volunteered to go in.

Let there be no doubt of what K-Mart I speak.

It’s on El Paseo between Idaho and W. Lohman. On the west side of the road. Don’t ever go there. Ever. Ever. Ever.

I ran in, and quickly located the sunglasses. I got two pair, and went to the checkout.

Hmmm.

Only one register is open, par for the course in most stores of this type. The other so-called check out lanes are merely cardboard cuts -outs set up to impress you with their customer “service.”  I am 5th in line and there are six people behind me. It is going to take some time.

“Do you have a K-Mart value card?”

“Do you have your discount dollars?”

“Have you started your period, had hot flashes, experiencing an enlarged prostate?”

No or yes, it matters not.

“You just saved $1.23 on that item, or would have if you had brought your last tax return with you.”

I purchase my items and skip across the nearly liquid parking lot.

“Do they fit?”

“Uh, no, I don’t think so,” the Contrarian smiled half-heartedly as the rims did not cover the frame of his spectacles.

Back into the hellfire I go.

I go up to the customer service which should have been named “Place where we will screw with you until you kill yourself”, and gasp out, “I just bought these and I need a larger size of one pair, same price!”

She smiles, nods, that I can leave it there and retrieve the appropriate size.

I do.

I am back in whatever can be categorized as a split second for a 62-year-old-woman.

I smile broadly and show her. “just change one for the other.”

“You’ll have to wait until I finish with this customer, please.”

This should have echoed through time, filled with cackling of a million witches. Time stood still.

This “customer” was Satan himself. A return artist, whose entire transaction was being voided, and somehow he was to receive some fourteen buckeroos in return. Trouble is . . . .

NO ONE IN THE FREAKIN’ STORE KNEW HOW TO DO IT.

The lady running the register didn’t know how. Soon she was begging for “ANY” store manager to come up and help.

Finally a harried, sweating man waddled forth and gave her instructions. She tapped the keyboard, she scanned the receipts. The machine stubbornly refused to open its draw of money.

After ten minutes, the machine was  still running the show, and the manager had retreated.

Come forth super manager, she with swagger and long nails approached the machine with assurance.

Clickity, clickity she tapped away, scanning with laser-speed, and twisting and thumbing. The machine laughed.

Much whispering of a conspiratorial nature ensued, a hammer was mentioned, human sacrifice was contemplated, and all manner of cheating and lying were used to defeat the register.

After a full 20 minutes, and  a standing crowd of nearly 1,000, the register finally opened. All Willie the Wank Machine needed was a new piece of chewing gum, and he opened his maw to disgorge  his green delights.

I completed my transaction, and swam to the car.

“Try them on,” I said as I stood ready to bend his frames into submission., if not his head.

“They work just fine, dear,” he squeaked.

“Good, lets look for some place to eat, preferably not Chinese!”

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