It seems endless winter. Grumpy times! I feel like I'm starring in a rheumatism commercial for liniment.
Mary announces that she needs to shop for a few items. I just want to stay warm.
The fact that she has never shopped "for a few items" in her life makes me realize I'm about to waste some time. The fact it is frigid time doesn't improve my mood.
So I find myself in the little battered plaza that is a few days away from bulldozers so another forgettable condo/commercial development can be built. All in the name of progress!
Half the shelves are empty already in the chain grocery store that is advertising that you can buy the rest for 30% off. Which Mary proceeds to do. So I find a seat on a bag of dog food and wait and watch the clerks. Some seem to be sleep walking, others hide behind gallows humour.
The woman efficiently processes Mary's collection of bargains and calls to a colleague to come help bag because you're not doing anything.
I have overhead what she said to a regular customer. So you've been here 29 years, I ask? Do you have a new job? No, she says, and forces a smile. She motions to the emotionless man bagging Mary's haul. He's been here more than 20 years. And he doesn't have a job either.
I have feeble suggestions, but then we turn away, pushing the broken shopping cart out of the store, past the black-and-white mongrel shaking and looking anxiously for its master.
I think of those awful unemployment stats and shiver despite my layers.
I am not one of those who for half their lives have come to a humbler part of town and now the familiar trip is gone forever. They face the great unknown, a maze of cold streets, and, if they beat the odds, a new job to replace the one they thought they had forever.
It is not a time to feel sorry for myself.