Thursday, August 02, 2007

For Want of a Backpack

I'm afraid this blog is about to degenerate into a series of lists of What I Did To Get Us Moved. Pretty mundane. Except, not so much for me. Because! I haven't moved ANYWHERE for ten years. Ten years in the same house, that is; seventeen in the same city.

I am full all the time of excitement and exhilaration. But also that third "ex-" word, exhaustion. I'd forgotten how bewildering it is to live in a city that you don't have a mental map of. There are a few places I know about and know how to get to, and I have a pretty good grasp by now of neighborhoods and streets and no longer need to religiously consult my Sacred Map to get anywhere, but there are huge blank areas in the Where To Find Stuff sections of my brain and I'm constantly tripping up against them.

Let's just say, to take a random example, that I needed a new backpack. In Seattle, the process would go like this:

1. This backpack is falling apart. I need a new backpack!

2. *Drive to Fred Meyers, which I have visited hundreds of times*

3. *Walk to the Backpack section, which is capacious and which I have browsed many times*

4. *Pick a backpack that I like.*

5. *Go to the checkout lane that has the nice checkout person who I like. Pay.*

6. *Drive home, happy to have a new backpack.*

In Vancouver, it's more like this:

1. This backpack is falling apart. I need a new backpack!

2. Where can I find a new backpack? In Seattle I'd go to Fred Meyers, but where should I go here??

3. *Stumble around in mental blank areas for a while.*

4. I know! Canadian Tire! The Renaissance Woman told me that Canadian Tire doesn't just have tires, they have EVERYTHING! Surely they have backpacks.

5. I wonder where Canadian Tire is?

6. *More stumbling in mental blank areas as I try to remember where Canadian Tire is. I have a vague memory of seeing it somewhere on my many drives around the city in search of housing, but no address or intersection can be retrieved now.*

7. I know! The Internet! I'll just Google "Canadian Tire Vancouver" and the Internet will tell me where to go! Thank the Goddess for the Internet! How did people ever survive without it?

8. *Google Google Google*

9. Aha! There's a Canadian Tire on the way to the New Apartment, where I'm going this afternoon anyway. I'll just pop in on my way over. All I have to do is make sure I take the Lougheed Highway route. It will be a snap!

10. *Drive drive drive*

11. Huh. There is a lot of traffic on the Lougheed Highway. I wonder which side of the street Canadian Tire will be on? I hope it's not on the left. It's very hard to make left turns in Vancouver.

12. There it is! On the right! Oh, boy! Now all I have to do is move over to the right lane!

13. Hey! Let me over! I'm gonna miss my turnoff to Canadian Tire! Hey!

14. You know, Canadians are not necessarily as polite as people say.

15. God, it's hot.

16. Huh. This kind of looks like...a tire store. Only, without tires. I definitely would not say that this store has EVERYTHING. For example, I don't see any backpacks.

17. On the other hand, it does have TV trays. We need one of those for the new apartment, where I'm going right after this. I'll just drag this wooden TV tray around with me as I peruse the aisles.

18. These aisles are kind of narrow.

19. Excuse me? Ma'am? Do you have any backpacks here?

20. Oh, what do you know? Right in front of me! Thanks!

21. Huh. There isn't really a great selection of backpacks here. In fact, there's only one kind.

22. Excuse me? Sir? Are there any other backpacks?

23. Down that aisle? I looked in that aisle and I didn't see any...oh, right there. Right. Thanks!

24. Huh. These aren't any better than the other ones. I'll take one of the other ones, I guess.

25. These really are kind of too big. I wish I could find a slightly smaller backpack. But the prospect of even trying to figure out where to look makes me want to lie down on the floor and weep. Better to just get this one, I guess.

26. Hmm. Bright green...bright red...gray. I think I'll take gray. Really, I would like a deep green. Just like the backpack I have now. But whatever.

27. And I should probably get some dishwashing soap.

28. And some rubber gloves. For when we wash dishes in the new apartment.

29. Huh. What size rubber gloves? Small, or large? Medium, I think.

30. Oh. They're out of medium. Okay; one small, one large. Just in case.

31. Excuse me? Ma'am?.....Um, Ma'am? Can I pay for these here?

32. *Stagger disconsolately out of Canadian Tire with too-large backpack, TV tray, dish soap, and two pairs of rubber gloves.*

So when I say that today I got an ATM card, ordered checks, bought a backpack, and went to IKEA for mattresses and some other assorted housewares, this means that I had a very full day indeed.

And so, to bed.


Anonymous chasmyn said...

I know what you mean - after 5 months I still have that particular problem. For future reference, malls (ugh) tend to be useful for such things, as they have a little bit of everything.

Did you get my message on your cell awhile back? I still want to get together :)

8:21 AM  
Anonymous rachel said...

Mountain Equipment Co-op, or one of its analogs. There are a MILLION outdoorsy-equipment-type stores around here. And I know you're thinking "Not that kind of backpack, either!" but they sell all kinds.

There is no perfect Fred Meyer analog. The Real Canadian Superstore comes closest, and you could find a backpack there for sure. Canadian tire sells a lot of stuff, it is true, and London Drug sometimes has stuff you wouldn't expect in a drugstore (like computers -- no kidding). Zellers is a pretty close Target analog, and Future Shop = Best Buy, but there are also Best Buys around.

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel's right.

Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) is in Vancouver on Broadway, about 2 blocks east of Cambie.

And Superstore does have everything, including cheap yet stylish clothes.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous cheesefairy said...

Lougheed Highway can really suck ass sometimes. And you found almost the last "old style" Canadian Tire in the city. (the 2nd to last was across the street from my house but it closed a few months after I moved in) Narrowest isles ever. You are a superhero for finding anything there.

10:45 AM  
Blogger parodie said...

I was going to suggest MEC for backpack-buying, but apparently others got there first. :) MEC has a good website, too - . *droool*

The Bay & Zellers (two different stores but both part of the HBC "brand") are decent most-anything department stores, The Bay being higher-end than Zellers. I'd go there for clothing, bedding, dishes, household stuff generally. Canadian Tire is more of a hardware-ish store, and many grocery stores (incl. the Canadian Superstores mentioned above, and Loblaws and so forth) are carrying more than just groceries.

Good luck with this finding-things phase! I know only too well how exhausting it can be.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

You know, this is exactly what my life is like, and I've lived in the same general area for well over ten years now. Hmmmm.

11:15 AM  
Blogger elswhere said...

Wow! Thanks, everyone. I think I will go to MEC this very afternoon.

cheesefairy, O New Neighbor in the Eastern Burbs! I had the feeling about that Canadian Tire that this is what the whole Canadian Tire franchise started out as, but that it had evolved into something different. Except, not at that particular store. I just didn't have it in me to look any further.

12:17 PM  
Anonymous rachel said...

The clear lesson here, my dear, is that next time you need something, write a blog post about it FIRST. :-)

2:36 PM  

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