I have been kind of a shut-in lately. I go to the supermarket when we need food. I come home. I go to boy scouts on Thursdays with Geoff. I come home. I once in a while have lunch with a friend out in the world. But for the most part, I'm not out there.
Which probably explains a lot. A lot about what I witnessed tonight when Geoff and I went out to run errands.
Geoff is a bull in a china shop. He breaks things easily. So over the course of this last couple of weeks he has managed to murder three lamps. We have no lighting upstairs in our house except for the bathroom overhead light, because Mr. Gently has knocked things over, turned things too hard or just basically been himself.
It is why we don't shop at Restoration Hardware. It is why we do shop at Walmart.
He got home from school and I told him that we ought to go up to Plaistow New Hampshire and go pick up some new lamps. We got to Walmart and I noticed that there were about 100 people outside of the building smoking. Yeah, I know -- people smoke outside. But it seemed as if this was an inordinate amount of people to be outside smoking at 4pm on a Monday afternoon. And they were all a bit sketchy.
More than a bit sketchy.
They were downright sketchy.
There was a woman on a park bench who if you asked me to guess how old she was I would have said 50-55. She had a baby on her lap and she was smoking. She was wearing a tank top and shorts. I know the weather has been mild lately, but not mild enough for tank tops and shorts on November 14th.
Two other women were standing there. One was the size of two of me, and I'm pretty big so you can just imagine. As we walked closer, the baby holder yelled to a woman coming out of Walmart.
"Hey, don't say hi to me or nothin' Tammy! Just keep walking by!" I couldn't quite tell if she was being playful or if she would get up and shank the bitch for not saying hi, once she tucked the baby under her left arm of course. And whipped her shank tool out from the top of her tank top. It would of course be between her saggy breasts. Right by her tattoo of the name Mary.
The Tammy woman was busy lighting her cigarette and said "Aw Fuck, I didn't even see you there. How the hell are you?" She didn't stop to talk, just kept going so her how the hell are you question was answered loudly with:
"I had a baby! Do you see my baby?!"
Oh dear God, that's HER baby. She and the baby, toothless and loud, sitting on a park bench in front of Walmart. Under dressed for the weather. And I think the baby has tattoos too!
"I see your baby! Congratulations!" yelled Tammy as she got to her car.
Those two are fast friends.
I shuttled Geoff between some super sketchy dudes who may be on the sex offender registry... they were eyeballing us pretty seriously, not sure who they were more interested in.
We went into the store.
There weren't as many people inside as there were out. We had no problem finding the stuff we needed. I got lamps. I got light bulbs. Geoff wanted a new zip up hoodie with a fleece liner. We picked one out. We even got ourselves a Christmas Tree Stand so we do not have to live through the nightmare that was LAST Christmas (long time readers will recall the shenanigans).
Upon leaving the store, we put our items in the car and got ready to leave. There were several people shuffling around the parking lot, smoking, toothless, and kind of Meth-Addicty in appearance. I looked for the group home van, or the state of New Hampshire work release van to see if all of these people were there together. But they were not. They all got into their own cars. Beat up Chevy Corsicas and old Ford somethings with missing headlights and taillights.
Now, New Hampshire is a bit rural and not too sophistimicated or nothing, but I felt like this was really way past unnerving.
When I'm at a store and I feel like I am an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog model compared to just about every other human being within 2000 feet, there's something weird going on.
I was instantly reminded of the first section of this entry on Hyperbole and a Half, where Allie gives instructions on telling the difference between safe and not safe people in Rural Montana.
5 feet over the border in New Hampshire is looking a lot like Rural Montana.
Are people just not doing well? Has the economy pushed everyone over the edge? Has meth taken over Rockingham County?
It was a weird experience for sure.