For over a year and an half I did all of my errands by bike. This meant that, in very short order, I wound up with not that many errands, especially when you live at the top of a steep hill that it takes a couple of miles to reach.
The last few weeks, since returning from Texas, I’ve been riding as a passenger in my girlfriend’s car to do things like buy groceries. I never thought too much about it, except this one little detail: In a car you always buy more stuff, because on a bike you have to haul it all home on your back or your rack. How many potatoes and what size milk carton are real issues.
Yesterday she and I were talking. “I need a new cutting board,” I said.
“Let’s go to TJ Maxx,” she said.
“It’s the shop you’ve walked and ridden by about 10,000 times that says ‘TJ Maxx.'”
“Yeah, but what is it? A kitchen store?”
She looked at me like she often does. It’s a look that says, “He’s fucking with me. No, he’s a moron.” She took a breath. “TJ Maxx is a store that sells stuff that everyone wants. Everyday stuff. It’s cheap and the stuff is usually really nice.”
“Cheap and nice? I smell a rat.”
“Well we don’t have to go. I just can’t believe you’ve never been inside a TJ Maxx.”
We got in her car and drove up to the store. It was 10:00 AM and they had just opened; the store was empty except for us. At first it looked like any old Target-type box store. But when we got to the kitchenware my mind was blown. Pots everywhere. Twenty kinds of spatulas. Twenty kinds of mixing bowls. Glass food storage thingies by the zillion. Everything you could want, and tons that you couldn’t, in infinite variety and color. Want a Minnie Mouse spatula that’s too tiny to even flip an egg? Check. Seven kinds of iron teapots? Check. Eight different varieties of wooden cutting boards, all for less than $20? Check.
“This is sick,” I said, happily.
“Yes, she said. It’s TJ Maxx.”
I got my cutting board but did not stop there. There was a great little saucepan with a lid. There was a cool wooden spoon. There was an electric water pot. I kind of lost control, and blinked stupidly at the $75 bill at checkout.
“Are you okay, sir?” the clerk asked.
We got back in the car and I realized what had happened. I’d been car-ed. That’s what happens when you go to buy something and come back with a bunch of stuff you didn’t need and only vaguely wanted. Never happens on a bike. Ever.