It is my belief that my local Dollar General store is the portal to an alternate dimension. The entrance lacks the science fiction flash of the pulsating goo of Star Gate and there is no magical quirkiness as in Harry Potter’s train station. However, when I wrestle one of the too-large carts down the crowded aisle beyond the entrance, all meaningful relationships with the outside world cease to have meaning.

Short, maze-like aisles that feel as though the store was designed with hamsters in mind are crammed with stuff. I poke around and read the ingredients in meaningless items. When I move into a new aisle and encounter another customer, I flinch and retreat to the previous aisle until the rude interloper has moved on. I inventory the socks to learn whether a different brand has been introduced. I check to see whether the shower curtain display has been refreshed with any new patterns. I am never in the market for a shower curtain, but I always check.

I watched the news last night. The world is on fire and my government has neglected to assure that there are functional batteries in our smoke detectors. When I need for my world to be simple and safe, I go to Dollar General. They have an entire section stocked with batteries. When I am preparing to check-out, it doesn’t matter which counter I approach because there will inevitably be a sign advising me to go around to the other counter. I suspect this mild irritation/disappointment upon exiting the establishment is intentional; a gauntlet of preparedness upon re-entering the outside world. I have to go back, and I’m scared.

I’ll come back tomorrow and see whether Dollar General carries fire extinguishers.


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