Saturday, January 31, 2009

Of Chain Saws & Generators…

Yesterday’s trip into town was just a little surreal. I fully expected to hear The Twilight Zone theme start playing any time.

My first stop was Sam’s Club to pick up Love’s prescription. Unlike the day before, Sam’s had electricity.

The trip into the store the day before was worth the experience for me and Skye, even if we wound up buying nothing. Although the auxiliary battery lights were barely glowing, the store was well lit by the many skylights. The Sam’s Club in Fayetteville is a “green store,” designed to save energy, recycle water, compost produce, and use native plantings and a bioswale to reduce its impact on the nearby Clabber Creek. I had never realized how much of the store’s daytime lighting comes from the sun. Since we had cash or checks, we were assigned a personal shopper to escort us through the store and total up our purchases. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until we got to the pharmacy that I would need to use my HSA (health savings account) debit card to pay. But the pharmacy staff was great and actually gave me three pills from the prescription to get Love through. We also wanted bird seed, but they didn’t have any.

But, like I said, Sam’s had electricity yesterday. However, I had left my HSA card in my bill-paying caddy at home.

I trudged onward to The Hardware Store to pick up Love’s chain saw and blades that I had left the day before for sharpening. I could not find a place to park at this quiet little store where the employee-custom ratio allows great service. So I circled around and headed for the grocery store, planning to come back on my way home.

Harp’s had power. Yeah! The Harp’s closer to our home had been out of power for the past two days. I wasn’t desperately in need of anything, as I keep a well-stocked pantry and had laid in perishables last weekend. However, I still wanted some birdseed, and I thought I’d pick up the other items I had added to my list during the week. As I approached the store, I noticed a sign on the door. I was expected a “closed” sign, but it was a sign advertising generators. Does YOUR grocery store sell generators? I thought not!

Not only were they selling generators, but also chain saws. Granted, they were electric chain saws. I’m not exactly sure what you could cut with an electric chain saw, but there they were. I made my rounds through the store, gathering my items, and noticing with interest what items were in short supply: bottled soft drinks (but not bottled water), sidewalk salt, milk, frozen pizza, canned soup, and paper products. As I made my way to the checkout, I noticed the lines were not moving. It seems that their power had just come back on – it had gone off earlier in the day for the first time during the storm – and their electronic cash registers were searching for software or data or something. I wound up leaving Harp’s empty-handed, and they locked the doors behind me.

Back I went to The Hardware Store. A guy in a pickup was backing out, so I scored a parking space. Inside the store, I got in the long line to wait and watch the people. The first thing I realized that every man in the store who was not an employee was holding a chain saw. Most of the saws were the bright orange Stihls sold by The Hardware Store. I don’t know much about chain saws or motorcycles, but I recognize Stihl in the same way I recognize Harley Davidson: quality and price. Many of the saws were new, but some were there to be sharpened. One guy seemed to be in the store just to be in an environment where his chain saw could be admired. I wish I could remember its brand, but it seemed to be the envy of all the other chain saw aficionados. I learned that it could cut anything and all day, that it was several years old, and the brand is no longer made. I was so glad I was there to pick up Love’s little Pouland. While a woman could hold her head high carrying the green chain saw, I know that Love’s head would have hung low as he endured the shame of such a lowly saw in that testosterone-soaked environ.

Which leaves me wondering: new chain saws + novice users + testosterone + lots of stuff to cut. Will the emergency rooms be as busy in the next few days as the Hardware Store was yesterday?

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