My favorite store in Schroon Lake is the Town Store. No matter how long I am at camp, I always manage to stop there before traveling back home. It's not a chain, and it's not huge. You can't get every item there, and every visit is unique...as you walk through the different sections you can see the work of local artists and crafters. Some items are not your style, and some make you dig down deep in your pockets to see if you have enough money for purchase. The prices are not too high, and I never leave there without buying something...even if it's a simple piece of fudge. Though most of all, the Town Store and other 'mom and pop' stores like it are not physically overwhelming. I can wander through the merchandise on my own time without feeling exhausted by the size of the place or the amount of people in it, and my ears are not ringing from the noise. The larger chain stores (although the cheapest prices may be offered,) can seem like the size of two football fields, making me tired before I even start walking. And because of all the people running through the store who are desperate to grab the best deals in record time, I constantly need to be aware of my surroundings. It is quite easy for a person who has CMT and limited balance to get knocked to the ground, in someone's frantic attempt to get $2 off a large tube of hemorrhoidal ointment. I have learned the hard way to move to the side on occasions like this...for when someone is that desperate, it's best to just stay out of their way!
So let me tell you about my most recent experience to one of the large chain stores. I went there specifically because I needed a new airbed for guests, and this store offered the best deal. I had a few more items on my list, though luckily these were also on the same side as the bed...so I was confident that my trip would be a short one, with limited walking time. Oh, ignorance is bliss...isn't it?? And so my story begins...as I park at one end, putting myself close to that entrance but away from the mayhem of speeding cars and crowds of people. I make my way to the store only to find orange cones blocking my access, and a tiny sign stating that the entrance I chose 'will be closed till July 11th due to renovations'...sigh. So I start making my way toward the other set of doors, approximately two football fields away. Finally I'm there, though my relief is short lived as I enter and grab my cart...for now I'm at the opposite end of where I need to be. Even bigger SIGH...and I start making my way back toward the 'bed and bedding' section on the other side to find my airbed and eventually gain my freedom. Attempting to maneuver my way around the crowds of people, I can see the airbeds ahead of me...oh, thank GOD! I'm so close, I can almost see myself back in my car and driving away! And then once again my access is blocked...by a woman with her four screaming children, who (instead of watching her kids) is busy making a phone call to her BFF to share the latest news and gossip in her life. **SIGH!!** I carefully make my way around them, trying not to get knocked over by the kids who are now chasing each other, and grab my item as quickly as possible. Working my way toward the 25 registers that line the front of the store, I grab the small items that remain on my list and get ready to stand in line. But...wait a minute. I stand near register 25, looking for one that's open...and things start to get a little blurry. The only registers that are open are ALL the way at the other end, each with long lines stretching into the store. Right about now, I realize I need to lay down...and consider for a moment doing just that, right on the floor. I don't even care if I get trampled at this point, that's how tired I am! But instead I straighten my shoulders, and start the long walk toward registers 1 and 2. I choose what I hope will be the quickest line, and settle in for what will be a very long wait. I think that's when the cell-phone talking woman with her running, screaming children get in line behind me...making me cringe as she continues her personal conversation and her kids start grabbing candy bars off the shelves. Don't they sell GUNS here, in the hunting section? I think to myself...I should have grabbed one of those.
Finally, blessedly, I am at the front of the line. I quickly pay for my purchases, and head for the door...freedom is so close I can taste it! I try to wait patiently next to the cones that are also blocking half of the exit (remember the renovations?) and search for an open spot in the crowds of people streaming into the store. Two young men are part of this crowd, the waists of their pants hanging precariously around their knees...displaying their fashionable choices in underwear. Bleach...I should have bought BLEACH for my eyes. One of these men is carrying a box, lightly held together with duct tape. Just as I think I see an opening, a store clerk stops them and asks what is in the box. Mumbling an answer they continue into the store, causing the clerk to stop them again and repeat her question. As I skirt around them and run for the door one of the underwear-clad men starts yelling and swearing at the clerk. Proving once again that a store like this one is just too big for me, and if I ever need another airbed it will be worth the extra $10 to get it from a small, quiet store...and possibly crucial to my very survival!
I shared this story because it's funny, and I love funny...especially if it's true. That is the best type of humor--the true humor of life! Though I also shared this story for another reason, as we head toward the July 4th holiday. Many of us will be getting together with friends and family, and will be running out for those last minute items...hot dogs and buns, party favors, even barbecues. Together we celebrate America and our freedom...with parties, fun and fireworks! So when you are hurrying to grab those last few items to make your celebration a great one, consider stopping by that mom and pop store around the corner instead of driving on past. During this time of economic crisis, the small stores need your support more than ever...their personal service is always welcome, and their prices may even surprise you! So on this Independence Day, show your support for the small businesses of America...as they are what make this country great! Happy 4th of July, everyone!