Wednesday, June 17, 2015

My less than optimal day

We're having a record breaking heatwave here in the northland. Every day new records are being set in Alaska and the Yukon. I really hate hot weather. There are major forest fires on both sides of the town, not close enough to threaten Anchorage (other towns are less fortunate) but, depending which way the wind blows, close enough to choke some people. The Cub Scout camp near the bigger fire has respirators ready for the kids with asthma. My bus pass expires today and my sister's away on a road trip, meaning I'm on my own for food. I like cooking and I like my cooking, but I'm less fond of trudging to and back from the store (a little over a mile each direction).

Getting a new bus pass is no big deal. My afternoon transfer is right in front of the library and I can buy a pass there. If the weather was the same as yesterday, my plan was to get a pass, come home, and get groceries tomorrow. If it was cooler, I planned to get the pass, walk the few blocks to where I could catch a bus to the store, shop, and walk home from there. It's still hot today, possibly another record, but the smoke isn't too bad.

This morning, after arriving at my workfare job, I noticed that I didn't have my wallet. I tried to call my sister to see if I had left it behind when I put on clean pants this morning, but she was already on the road. I called the bus office to see if it was in the lost-and-found and they said they wouldn't know until the end of the day.

I thought about this for a bit. The first thing I'll have to do if it's gone will be to call the credit union, cancel my card, and order a new one. That will take one to two weeks. Meanwhile I'll have to withdraw some cash to buy groceries and a new bus pass. But I can't do that without ID. Okay, I'll have to call the DMV and find out how to get a new ID without a different ID to prove who I am. And, this will involve a lot of time and trudging.

I decided to go straight home and look for my wallet. I ran out and caught the first bus heading my direction. This means I'm losing a half day's pay. On the way, I looked at the bus schedules to check my transfer and found out it would be a 45 minute wait. Fine, dammit! I'll walk. I got off at the nearest stop to my sister's. Happily, part of the walk was along a bike path on a greenbelt and much cooler than the streets. My sister's neighborhood was also cooler.

My wallet was just where I hoped it would be. I washed up and put on some dry clothes. I got a big glass of water and sat down to let my panic level and core temperature return to something resembling normal. As I sat staring vacantly into space, I decided there really wasn't a good reason for not going to the store. I'm home early and tomorrow is going to be just as hot. I checked the bus schedules and discovered there were convenient buses to take me halfway there and halfway back.

I headed out the door, pausing briefly to lament the fact that all of my summer shirts are still in storage in Washington. The bus was on time and most of the walk to the store was on the shady side of the street. Then it became time to cross the street. Anchorage is not a pedestrian friendly town (that's a rant for another day). Standing across the street from the store, the peculiarities of Anchorage road planning and summer construction had mad it so I would have to walk three blocks and wait through three light cycles to legally cross the street. I jay-walked.

Finally, at the store. After a day like this, I told myself, I deserve a treat; I'll make a pizza. After picking up an apple fritter for breakfast (I also deserve that), I went around comparison shopping for ingredients. Cheapest crust. Cheapest cheese. Cheapest sauce (I'm going to add my own seasonings). Cheapest toppings.

On my way to the Italian sausage, I passed the butcher's case and saw thick-cut, porterhouse steaks for $ 8.88 /pound. To paraphrase Eeyore, "Porterhouse. My favorite steak. Sigh. Thick. My favorite cut. Sigh." There is no way I can justify a $ 15.00 steak! I paced back and forth looking wistfully at the steaks until a butcher started moving in my direction. Knowing my will would collapse if he asked me if he could help me, I averted his eyes and rushed away. I unconvincingly told myself putting fresh tomato slices on the pizza would make up for it.

I also told myself I deserve some sweets. Oh, look, I said to myself, chocolate covered almonds. They will be one not-so-solid mass by the time you get them home in this heat, I also said to myself. I'd really like some ice cream. Do you remember what I said about chocolate covered almonds? Multiply that times seven. Cookies? We'll check. Blue! Berry! Newtons! $ 5.49 a package! Oreos are half price. Okay, but don't get one of the weird flavors.

I went to check out and there were lines at all the cashiers and at the self-check stations. If there is no difference in the lines, I'd rather keep someone employed by using a real cashier. Besides, if there's no difference in the lines, the self-check will take longer because most people don't know how to check themselves out. I picked a line that everyone was avoiding because the customer had lots of groceries. I figured her one big cart would go through faster than four smaller carts. When I stepped into the line the cashier looked up and asked me to put up the closed rope since it was her break time. An older Philippina woman just walking up looked very sad. The cashier said, "put it behind her."

This left me feeling better about the day. I decides I deserved some wine with my pizza meals. I went next door to the liquor store and picked out a low priced box of okay red. There was a line, but everyone cooperated and it progressed smoothly. The cashier had a cheerful "we're all in this together" attitude. I made sure I had all my cards in order before I got to the front. We finished the transaction, I politely said thanks as I always do do service people. She gave me a stone cold stare and said in a flat voice, "Thank. You." What did I do? Did an old hippie kill her dog?

More jay-walking. In front of one of the stores I passed was a guy, close to my age, collecting donations for some veterans' cause. He wore a cap that said "Vietnam Vet" and was cheerfully greeting everyone who went by. When I passed, he stepped back and saluted me. I returned his salute. It's a common mistake. These days, I look old enough to have been in that war. In fact, I was in the last draft, but my number wasn't called. When I was in the Cub Scouts, Dad taught me how to do a correct salute and I still do it very well.

I caught the return bus with no problem. I walked back to my sister's house. I hadn't lost the keys, so I entered with no problem. As I was unpacking the groceries, I was still thinking about that porterhouse and crunching numbers. I finally worked it out. If I bought two steaks in the family pack, which is cheaper still, and had them with mushrooms, potatoes, and the salad makings already in the fridge, I could get at least three meals out of a $ 15.00 steak. That's still not a price that I can afford every day, but it's a comparable price per meal price to this pizza I'm making. I might have to go back, buy the family pack, and keep it till my sister gets back.

Altogether, this has been a less than optimal day, but it could have been worse.


joel hanes said...

Probably you already know about this

Anonymous said...

John, I'm working on a story about the Wenas to chat with you about your book, if you have a moment. Please drop me a line at Thanks! -Elly Bailey