The Emergency Is Broken September 9, 2008Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Odds&Sods, Toulouse Street.
Tags: 1984 World's Fair, curfew, emergency, Jefferson Parish, Lowe's, Metairie, New Orleans, NOLA, Rouse's, shopping, Target
So Monday night I took my son out to far Metairie around Transcontinental for his saxophone lesson, and tried to run some errands. At that time of day, I usually find I can get down Veterans Boulevard faster than I can down Interstate-10 running in parallel a half-mile over, so my drive takes me through the shopping strip the long way. As I crossed over into Metairie I thought it was odd that the grocery store Dorignac’s had an empty parking lot. At first I thought perhaps everyone had loaded up on groceries to heavily this weekend that business was just slow. I didn’t think about it again until after I dropped off my son.
I pull into the parking lot of Clearview Shopping Center and notice that Target’s parking lot is mostly empty. That’s Odd, I think, then wonder again if there was such a frenzy of restocking after the Hurricane Gustav evacuation (not to mention the post-evac malaise that seems to be troubling everyone) was keeping the shoppers at home. Score for me, I thought. I should finish in plenty of time. So I trundle up to the door. Locked. It’s closed, a woman sitting on the bench by the door tells me. When I ask why, she shrugs and looks away. OK, then.
So I start off towards K-Mart thinking, this is weird. Why would they be closed on a Monday night at 7 pm? One thing I needed were filters for the central air, so I suddenly realize I can drop into Lowe’s and get those. So I execute a perfect New Orleans center lane turn into the parking lot to notice it is eerily empty as well. Then I see that two Lowe’s semis are pulled across the front door, right in the fire lane. As I pull up toward the door, someone inside is waving off another shopper. Closed.
So, I’m about ready to give up until I remember seeing the Right-Aid by Transcontinental all lit up, so I head there. Closed. Zuppardos has people in the parking lot, so I make the quick reverse course u-turn on Vets to get there (a 1/4 mile of suburban driving to cover maybe 75 feet as the crow flies), then decide to check the Rouses just up the street instead. It is open, and even appears to have some frozen food (which was completely absent on Saturday at my Mid-City Rouse’s). Odd. I never asked the clerks why they were open. I figure they had no more clue than I did.
Years ago one of my treasured 1984 Worlds Fair souvenirs was little glass tube containing a sketchy looking cigarette with an Asian imprint on it and a strike anywhere match. A friend picked a handful of these up at the close-out/discount store after the Fair was over. The tube was labeled “The Emergency Is Broken”. I think I know what they meant. When my son was a wee thing, I bought him a cheap Space Shuttle toy of the sort that rolls around and bounces off walls, then takes off taxiing in another direction. Among it’s other Realistic Space Sounds it would announce “Three, Two, One, Blastdown!”.
I think this is called Japenglish, but I don’t want to slight anyone’s native tongue or town. I seriously doubt either of these things were “Made in Japan” like the cheap swords and Confederate skirmish caps we would buy in City Park when I was a little kid. And I kind of enjoy these errors in transliteration. At my last job we used to amuse ourselves by taking Business Requirements Documents written by our customers, running them through the Babel Fish translation from English-to-Dutch, then back again, to see if we could improve the clarity of those sad documents. Sadly, there were times when we could. Internet and instant messaging access are dangerous in a two-hour tele-meeting.
I asked the guys outside Lowe’s, the one who walked up to the door and talked to the clerk if there was still some sort of curfew in Jefferson Parish that I missed hearing about, but he said, “No, but we might as well be.” It seems that out in the land of the big box stores, the emergency is truly broken. Someone needs to tell me when it’s safe to go shopping again.