The St. Petersburg Times reported yesterday about a man's bad day at the mall.
Larry DiSalvo called Saturday the worst shopping day of his life.
There he stood in the Tyrone Square Mall parking lot, surrounded by three police cruisers and mall security. Police had searched and interrogated him. All the while, DiSalvo said, shoppers gawked, perhaps wondering whom he had killed.
The 57-year-old said he was guilty of one thing: forgetfulness. He lost his 1991 Grand Marquis in a sea of 6,000 parked cars.
But mall security thought he was wandering the parking lot looking for cars to break into.
The result: He's banned from the mall for life.
"They gave me the shopping equivalent of a life term without any parole," the retired real estate agent said. "I'm a mall person. I grew up in malls. I've never in my 57 years on this planet had a problem in a mall.
"Unfortunately," he said, "today my unlucky number came up."
Being banned from the mall probably wouldn't be too harsh a sentence for me, but if you're a shopper like DiSalvo, it's crushing.
My bad shopping day was yesterday, but I put it out of my misery quickly. I worked yesterday until 4:00 and then headed off to try finishing my Christmas shopping. I started at Harry & David and had to wait in line, but they made the wait enjoyable by bring by some samples of their chocolate-covered strawberries, which I tried but didn't buy.
Next was Best Buy, where I wanted to get a gift card, but the line was enormous. I asked the guy by the door what time they opened in the morning, and he said 8:00. Good enough for me. I left the store and decided to stop shopping altogether until today.
Instead, I went to the beach just after the sun went down, to the spot where I go when I need to have a serious talk with God. The tide was on its way out, and the lingering sunset made the beach look like liquid gold. I sat down on a foot-high "cliff" of sand to watch and listen.
My conversation with God wasn't about shopping, but about the future.
I'm still trying to decide what to do with myself. It's between Plan A (Nuclear Medicine Technology, at a school in Indiana) and Plan B (Bachelor's in Nursing, at a school here in California). I never really wanted to be a nurse, but the idea is starting to grow on me, especially after some lobbying on the part of my friend the cardiac nurse.
I've developed a love for Indiana from just the two times I've been there, because it looks so much like my heart's home from childhood, even though I hardly know anybody there. And when I talked to my nurse friend about all this, the words that came out of my mouth were, "...then I'd be stuck in California." Stuck. Even though my kids and most of my friends are here. It doesn't really make a lot of sense, so that's why I went to my spot at the beach.
It was tempting to leave the decision in the hands of whoever buys my house: If it's sold and closed before the end of April, I go to Indiana. If it's not, I stay here. But making a decision that way is a bad idea. I need to choose. If I choose the NMT program in Indiana and my house doesn't sell until after April, then I can move there when the house has sold and just delay the start of school until the following year. If I choose nursing, it won't matter when my house sells.
I didn't get any answers there at the beach last night, but I got some peace. The answers can wait a while longer.
And then today, I had a good shopping day. There were only two people in line at Best Buy when I got there. At the other places I went, there were just a few people ahead of me. I've finished my shopping, and all that's left is the wrapping.
And the Christmas Eve service at church, if I don't forget.