a foot in two cities


Hey, y’all. Once again, I’ve found myself going too long without blogging. That makes me crazy. Or, more accurately, crazier.

Dallas remains hot, busy, hot, unique, and hot. I continue to be surprised by all kinds of odd things. Like the buggies.

One afternoon, we’d been grocery shopping at Kroger. But we’d parked next door at Target, because we’d gone there first. Since it’s hot (see above), I sent D on ahead with the keys to open the car and turn on the A/C, while I pushed the loaded buggy out. (That’s a Southern thing, “buggy.” Cool word. Say it over and over. “Buggy.” “Buggy.” “Buggy.” My northern/western/eastern friends will know these rectangular metal contraptions as “grocery carts,” for some odd reason.)

I got a little burst of energy from somewhere, and decided to try to catch her.  Of course, tipped off by the rattle-rattle-rattle of the buggy, she took off for the car. Determined to catch her, I cranked up the old jets. Man, I was flying through that parking lot, bouncing over the speed bumps like a fiend. Cans of dog food, boxes of oatmeal, broccoli and asparagus were all a-flyin’ around in the buggy. Zoom, rattle, rattle, zoom.

I was almost there, this close. That’s when the buggy’s wheels suddenly stopped turning. Completely. Errk!

I thought for sure I’d run over some gravel or pistachio shells — you know, how you’ll be in the store, and a tiny split pea fleeing its bag will get stuck under a wheel, and the buggy simply won’t go anywhere until you’ve bent over and dug it out?

Well, that’s not what happened here. No, my buggy’s wheel locks kicked in. It seems that here in Dallas, buggy thefts are such a big deal that it makes sense to install radio-controlled wheel locks on them.

Hell, our cars don’t even have wheel locks.

I had apparently roamed too far afield from Kroger, and the little sensors in the wheels flipped out and locked down. I could almost hear a screaming recording going off in Kroger: “Alert! Alert! Attempted cart theft in progress! Whoop! Whoop! Small woman, no hair, ‘We Are Nashville’ t-shirt. All hands to the parking lot, with Tasers.”

All four wheels. At the same time.

This caused the buggy to come to a sudden, devastating halt. At least, it tried to come to a halt. Physics being what it is and all, the momentum of my lightning-fast rush was transferred directly upward from the locked wheels and into the buggy itself, my arms and the foot that I might, just might, have had up on the bottom rack so I could push it along faster. Irresistible force meeting an immovable object and all.

All the groceries continued moving, of course, like those crash-test dummies in the slow-motion videos. Bags of stuff slammed into the front end of the buggy. Had I been tall, I’d have flipped over the handle and into the buggy myself, but since I’m not, the handle merely slammed into my belly. Whoompf!

D is, at this point, laughing hysterically, even while unsure of just what’s happened. Must’ve been my little head whiplashing forward that was so funny. Wish I could’ve seen it, but I was trying to regain consciousness.

It took me a minute to figure out what was going on. It wasn’t until I tried to push the buggy again, only to be stymied by four split-pea-free wheels that wouldn’t turn, that I realized the scoop.

So, Dallas Lesson No. 4 learned: Don’t remove grocery carts from their rightful owner’s parking lot, or suffer the consequences. It’s hard to believe that the cost of the wheel-lock system is less than the buggy theft, but it must be so. Unless the grocery managers here just have a sick sense of humor and like to watch people push buggies until they appear to slam into an invisible wall.

If that turns up on YouTube, man, I’m gonna be cranked.

Dallas Lesson No. 5: The hockey team here may be named the Stars, and there may be basketball and football stars living here. But don’t expect to see any stars, the real kind, anyway. There’s just too much light from these buildings. I’ll bet that on those National Geographic “world at night” maps, Dallas is a big ball of white. I’ve put my telescope away in a closet. I really miss the night sky in Tennessee. Especially up at Dale Hollow and Center Hill lakes up in the hills, the stars are so incredibly bright, and the Milky Way is so thick, it looks like smoke across the sky. I’ve thought about driving out to the desert to see some night sky, but I’m afraid given the size of this place, it would take a couple of hours to get that far away. Bummer.

Hey, we have a contract working on our house in Nashville! Shhhhh, though, don’t tell anyone. I’m afraid to jinx it, because until the papers are all signed, anything can happen, especially these days. It will be hard to say goodbye to it, because we love it. That’s the home we moved to after I left The Tennessean, the one where I found the next phase of my life, the one where I went through chemo, the one where our chosen family were also neighbors. It’s also another big cog in the wheel that makes this move feel even more permanent. Even though I know we could always move back anytime, not owning property there makes it feel harder to hold on to.

I’m going to focus on the good things, like how nice it will be not to pay two mortgages, two electric bills, two water bills, and two gas bills. (Especially when one of those water bills never got forwarded to Dallas, resulting in the West Wilson Utility District deciding irrationally to shut our water off last week. Luckily, D had to go back to Nashville last week for a work trip, and was able to thrust money at them and convince them to turn it back on. A lack of water is not a good thing for a swimming pool.)

I met her back in Nashville on Saturday for a whirlwind weekend, where we scattered her dad’s ashes on a bluff over the creek at the farm. Emotional, but very moving; it’s what he asked us to do. We saw our friends, crammed in a trip to the Wilson County Fair, with its fried butter and deep-fried, chocolate-covered bacon on a stick, and caught an incredible David Gray/Ray LaMontagne concert. (No, Beth, we didn’t eat the fried butter or the bacon on a stick. Promise.)

So between trips back to Nashvegas, I’m going to continue to nag our loved ones to come visit us. Dallas Lesson No. 6: there are zillions of big shiny planes flying into here every day. I think I’ll have a better shot at making that happen now that September is upon us and the high temp has plummeted to 99 degrees. Brrr, sweater weather!

About wordsmith1313

Now: Somewhat retired, although I don't do it very well. Formerly senior director of Communications and Marketing for the Dallas Zoo. Journalist. EMT. Writer. Breast cancer survivor. I love to travel, and will always return from a trip with a new friend or two. Those fortuitous meetings bring velvet to the rough edges of life.
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2 Responses to a foot in two cities

  1. Beth says:

    I just knew you wouldn’t eat that butter, my insides are all aflutter!

    Maybe next time you could use that fried butter on your shopping CART wheels to bust through that barricade. Really, you have to see it as a challenge now, don’t you?

  2. Jane Andrews says:

    Love your blog and your wonderful way of making life amusing! Miss you!!!

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