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Mr. Wrong

Help Yourself, Man

By Joe MacLeod | Posted 11/7/2001

I had a Big Weekend planned the weekend before last, man, and you woulda heard about it last week, except this column only runs every two weeks. Does that make any sense? This is a weekly paper, and my fucking column runs every two fucking weeks.

If my column ran every week, I only would have used one F-word in that last sentence, but it's in me and it's got to come out, see? It's not healthy to have all that psychic F-energy bottled up inside, you know? Sometimes I think I have so much fucking F-energy coursing through my veins, I could be a superhero of F. I could be "F-Man." Or maybe "Mister F-Man." Or maybe even "Mister Fucking F-Man."

That would be great, to be a superhero. Although I can't figure out what my Power would be if I was F-Man. I mean, outside of any obvious dumbass porno-associated power, but I'm not gonna be able to develop any kind of a mainstream following that way, dig? Can't really give away that F-Man action figure in the McDonald's Happy Meal if it ain't wearing any pants. As a superhero, I would want to Serve the Masses, and having an adults-only power would be detrimental to my market share. It's almost as bad as trying to build up any kind of brand loyalty when you run in a weekly paper but your fucking column only shows up every other week.

Really, I might have to go get me a part-time j-o-b or something to make up for this chronic every-other-weakness. I keep checking into my surprise early-retirement plans--you gotta have more than one these days: mdlottery.com, www.hitthecode.com, and the Coca-Cola "Get a Real Taste for Tailgating" thing where you collect the bottle caps--but nothing's happening growthwise. I think I spelled out F-O-O-T-B-A-L-L with my bottle caps, so that side of my portfolio might have a little potential, but that Snickers bar "Hit the Code" thing is going nowhere fast. I think my teeth are gonna fall out if I keep up this strict diet of Snickers bars and Cokes.

So in the meantime, I had this Big Weekend planned, and in order for it to go off correctly, I needed the following equipment: a pumpkin-carving kit, some 10W-40 motor oil, and a multipack of blank VHS videotape. Yeah, baby, big fun weekend, here I come. So I went to an auto-parts store to get the motor oil, and then I drove over to a crafts store to pick up a pumpkin-carving kit, and then, finally, I stopped in at an electronics store to get the videotape. I drove around for half the goddamn morning, went to three different stores to get all that shit. Yeah, right. Look, I went to fucking Kmart, OK? One-stop shopping, man.

(Hey, that could be a good superhero too: "One-Stop-Shopping Man." He Stops--He Shops. Once. One-Stop-Shopping Man. Rated PG, because in this episode he has to buy new underpants after his old ones were soiled in his last adventure, a life-or-death struggle with "More-Than-15-Items-in-the-15-Items-or-Less-Lane Lady.")

It was a weekday morning, so I figured I'd be in and out of ye olde Big K without too agonizing a wait at the checkout line. The Kmart has lots of good crap cheap, but, Jesus Christ, the checkout lines. I usually end up in the line with somebody buying 300 cans of cat food that all have to be scanned separately, a couple of screaming brats who want Mommy to buy them some of the candy that's always right there at kid's-eye level near the checkout, and some bonehead trying to make a purchase with an out-of-state third-party check. I usually have to get out of line to go over and stare at the Blue Light Special for a few minutes to achieve a little Zen before I start irrationally lashing out at my fellow checkout-line prisoners or the Kmartian behind the register.

But what's up with the Blue Light Special? It used to be like one of those old-school revolving lights on a cop car, and they wouldn't tell you where it was gonna be until they turned it on. "Attention, Kmart shoppers" was like "It is now post time" at the track. Devotees would be transported to a complete lower-brain, fight-or-flight state of being as they fought their way toward the Blue Light Zone. Now they have this large blue thing that sort of looks like a giant lampshade, and they keep telling everybody that the Blue Light Specials are permanent, so there's nothing, uh, special about a Blue Light Special.

Meanwhile, back in line, there was only one person ahead of me, and the checkout chick told me I could check myself out, completely avoiding any human contact at Kmart, after a brief training session. They have it all set up--you swipe the bar codes on your junk, slide some cash or your credit card into the appropriate slot, and you are fucking out of there. I skipped the training session, took a crack at it solo, and I was out of there way, way before I would have been under the old human-based system. Now, maybe at the grocery store I'd get upset about helping a robot check me out, feeling like a chump doing someone else's job, but at Kmart? Jesus Christ, it's like having your own Get Out of Jail Free card.

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