It has been several years since I went into a department store. I despise them. I abhor them. One of those trips makes me feels like I am underwater, long strands of polyester seaweed wrapped tightly around my legs, pulling me down. I have always shopped in thrift stores, finding well made clothes dirt cheap. But there are five things I buy new: underwear, nice blue jeans, sheets, towels, and socks.
In past years when I needed a pair of jeans, I would go to Sears. All the jeans were in one location by brand, and then broken down by style. I wear Levi 515 boot cuts. Nothing else. I would go to that pile, find my size, and get the heck out of there. Unless I needed socks and underwear, but that is a story for another time.
One day I made myself go to Sears to get a pair of jeans. When I got to the section that previously had that nice, orderly display of denim, I found racks of shirts. Where did the jeans go? After much searching I found them. Well, some of them. The marketers in their infinite wisdom decided to scatter the jeans all over the women's section to force us shoppers to look at other merchandise as we run from rack to rack, table to table, searching for a pair of dungarees. After 30 minutes of futility, I stormed out of the store, vowing never to return.
This week I have a gig, so I thought what the heck, why not get a new pair of jeans. I asked a young coworker where I might find my trusty Levi 515 boot cuts and she suggested Kohls. So I took an hour of precious leave time and hit the road. When I walked into the mega department store, I was immediately overpowered by brightly colored garments that looked more like a coral reef than springtime. I touched several of these articles of clothing, trying to find something made of natural fibers. Nothing. Finally, off in the distance I saw blue. I pep stepped over to the jeans section. There were racks and tables piled high with denim - blue, washed out, black, stretchy, not stretchy. They were organized by brand and style. Of course the signs were impossible to read IF I could find them, so I was left to pick up a pair from every table to see what brand I was looking at. Finally, I found them. Levi 515 boot cut.
I had to bend over and contort to find a size label. My trifocals slipped in and out of focus, partly because they were slipping down my nose from the upside down position I found myself in, and partly because that is just what trifocals do. Why do they put the big sizes on the bottom shelf? I mean REALLY! I can't see any darn thing so I reach down and start to pull out jeans to see what size they are. Not one pair matched the size label, and half weren't even the correct style! What happened to the good old days when store clerks went around and made sure everything was folded properly and in the right place? Huh? What happened to those good old days??????!!!!!!!
It was the third reach that sent me through the roof. I have torn something in my shoulder from slipping on the ice back in November (yes it was a Life Alert moment). Reaching down and under and over and into to find a pair of jeans sent me to the moon with pain. That's it, I screamed in my head. I will NEVER come back to this store again. I stormed out and went grocery shopping, where by the way, the bagger jammed the groceries into the paper bags so hard he crushed a plastic container of baby kale. Never going back there, either!
I try to shop locally, but without the small mom and pop stores to visit, I give up. I begin to daydream. I will go online, find a pair of Levi's and order them from a stranger. I will do it without having to make my way through aisles of cheap clothing made of god knows what in a sweat shop god knows where. I will make a nice cup of decaf, put on some jazz, and click "buy now". Just like that. Done.
When I finally arrived home, I almost wiped out from ice built up by my back door, due to a faulty gutter corner. After some tricky maneuvering whilest carrying three sacks of groceries, I entered my humble abode, almost falling on my butt due to a grease covered kitchen floor left behind by a well intentioned guest who made frybread. I balanced carefully and put the sacks on the counter, got out the Dawn and started mopping. Once. Twice. Finally, I stuck to the floor.
Ahh. It is finally over. I kicked off my shoes and settled into my recliner. There, staring at me from below, were two big toes, poking out of a worn pair of black socks.