Last night, the dreadful news rang out throughout the house: We were OUT of dishwasher detergent.
After a moment of stunned silence, outright panic erupted. Cupboards were frantically emptied in a desperate search. Closets were rifled. Every possible nook and cranny was explored. In vain.
Every last one of us around here views hand washing the dishes with a level of dread normally reserved for things like root canals and algebra finals; this is because there are six lazy people in this house who all have a terrible habit of somehow managing to use three dishes, four knives, two drinking glasses and, rather inexplicably, eight spoons every damned time they so much as make a sandwich.
And then leave them right where they are. Coated in peanut butter and/or jelly and/or mayonnaise and/or mustard and or ketchup. Slowly hardening on (or into) the countertop until they look more like bizarre pieces of modern art than utensils meant for eating.
The collective response to this is usually to fill the sink with water, shove everything into it, and walk away whistling; a few hours later, the softened mess gets a quick rinse and into the dishwasher it goes.
Clearly, my plans for today had to include a trip to somewhere that dishwashing detergent could be procured; I did not particularly want to venture out into the land of Retail on a weekend for heaven’s sake, but, it was simply not to be gotten around.
This was an emergency.
…but over the course of the next few hours, an even more horrible reality began to dawn for me: We were also on the last gallon of milk. I had opened the last bag of coffee that morning. And the very last can of green beans the night before. The empty egg carton in the sink (seriously, what the hell is wrong with these lunatics I live with?! who does that? who tosses an EMPTY EGG CARTON into the SINK like that?!) was indeed the last of the egg cartons.
There were no more crackers, no more cheese, we were perilously close to being out of toilet paper and soap, someone had eaten the very last of the popcorn, we had zero cans of vegetables out in the pantry, and worst of all, my personal stash of soda had dried up.
At first, I tried to rationalize my way out of it. Maybe I could buy just a get-me-by amount of the barest essentials at the supermarket around the corner, and not deal with the full shop until midweek next week…maybe on my ‘lunch’ hour, which comes at about 9:30 or so in the morning thanks to my working east-coast hours…
…and surely I could substitute something else for my soda in the meantime…say, maybe, coconut rum? I mean, any port in a storm, right?!
But as my conniving was coming to a fevered pitch, the more sensible side of me gave me a good slap on the cheeks and screamed, “SNAP OUT OF IT, WOMAN! Face the facts! You need to go to Costco. On a Saturday. You cannot put this off until next week, you know next week is going to be madness, it’s the last week of development for the August release, all kinds of Crazy is absolutely going to happen. You can do this.”
Now. Because I hate shopping with a mad passion, I am always focused on greatest possible efficiency when I head out to the wastelands of Retail America. I do not want to browse. I do not want to stand there learning all the glorious facts about the new and improved Crunchy Snack’Ems (now made with GLUTEN-FREE cardboard!).
I want to get in, follow a path that has as few wasted steps as possible through the store to get my stuff, and get the hell out. I plan trips to the mall as if I am planning to invade a foreign country with only a handful of carefully selected soldiers.
But this…this…this was worse than trying to take on an end-game raid in mythic mode. This was ultra epic hard core mode. This was end-game mythic level raiding and level-capped PVP all rolled into one.
It was madness.
It was Costco. On a Saturday.
I put on my flak helmet, took out my mental map of the store and made my plans. The Enemy would be mostly clustered around the center aisles of the warehouse – engrossed in the sample tables lining the two central aisles, and browsing through the electronics and other bright-plastic-offerings to be had there.
SO. Upon entering the store I would immediately skirt around the back side of the registers to the pharmacy section, and enter the bulk food aisles from that unguarded territory.
Ha! Brilliant! This was a section that was typically utterly devoid of Enemy presence! I could then work my way up the bulk food aisles, leaving the cart at the outer edge of them away from the sample tables and free from excessive interference – I could simply thread my way through them, like a gazelle, snatch the bags and boxes I needed, and scurry back to the relative safety of the Dead Zone on that far side.
…but…the tricky bit…was going to be the dairy and frozen goods section. A lot of resources The Enemy finds particularly valuable shares shelf space with the more mundane ones I’m after.Too many choices in the aisles, too. Enormous boxes of waffles, five kinds of pizza-themed snacks, ice cream treats.
And of course, sodas and other sugary beverages were immediately beyond them, another hot spot for Enemy activity. There’s no way around it, that stretch of real estate was going to be crawling with the very worst The Enemy had to offer. Sample tables on all sides of the aisles, offering the choicest of preprocessed, ready-to-eat, overly sugared-and-salted num-nums known to man.
I chewed my lip. Just how much did I need more soda? Would it be possible…NO! NEVER! Why, my credibility as a ‘lead’ developer could be thrown into doubt if it were discovered that I went through an ENTIRE last-week-of-deploy-cycle or heavens, perhaps even a late-night production issue crisis WITHOUT a soda somewhere near to hand! It would be like…like…Colonel Hannibal without his cigar!
OK. Yes. Soda aisle = not optional. OK. I would just have to blast my way through it.
After that, I just had to make it past the inevitable red zone of the ‘personal blender’ guy and his continual hawking and I’d be back in the relatively clear ‘boring’ aisles where the super-sized cases of toilet paper, dishwasher detergent and such were stored.
Mad sprint back from Up Yonder to the registers, and the inevitable jockeying around between there and the door (NOBODY wants to be behind me at the door, so they will damn near sprint to pass me, sometimes creating some interesting traffic jams in the process), and then I’d be home free.
It would work. It had to work. Our way of life was being threatened. It was time to STEP UP, BE STRONG, AND GET-ER-DONE! FOR THE HORDE!!!!!!!
(My goodness, this guy Tooth-w [creator of this image] has some really intense pieces up on Deviant Art. Nice.) (Also, this is pretty much how I feel every time I have to go out and do the shopping. Lok’tar ogar!!)
It was a fierce battle, but eventually…victory was mine. I staggered up the driveway burdened with super-sized bags of rice, tortillas, frozen and canned vegetables, and yes, dishwashing detergent. Which I nearly forgot I needed after having hewed my way past Personal Blender Guy and his inevitable band of thrice-cursed groupies.
Once again, we have the peace that comes of being able to throw filthy dishes into a machine and turn it on instead of actually dealing with them; once again, we may partake of omelets, put cheese upon crackers, gorge ourselves on the cereal that is supposed to last two months such that it is all gone within a week, and partake of many mochas, lattes and other caffeine-bearing beverages.
There is toilet paper awaiting our (ahem) needs.
And, my team will not have to go without the comforting sound of me confidently rummaging around in my mini fridge at omg o’clock during a deploy call, pulling out and cracking open a can of diet Pepsi while muttering vaguely to myself about whether or not we really ought to have done step five first, and then step seven followed by step six, eh, not that it REALLY matters except POSSIBLY it would have been a bit FASTER because, you know, REASONS…because once again I only think I hit the mute button did not actually do so.
For now, our way of life is preserved.