I would like to tell you that this is a happy story but it is not. At the beginning of this experience I was a happy go lucky young lady. Well a lot has happened since this morning and I write to you as a broken and fragile woman. This is not a tale of heroism; it is merely a tale of survival. There was no triumph over adversity in my adventures today however a simple and gracious, acceptance of my own mortality did occur.
This morning I awoke with only one simple goal – to purchase a pack of millinery brooch pins from Spotlight. A ten minute drive to industrial suburbia should do the trick and then I would be free to explore the surrounding stores within the 62,000 square meter compound of home making ‘bliss’. Right. I set out with all the determination of a true crafter (I woke up and watched outright abused my Netflix subscription for two hours in my pyjamas on the couch). By eleven thirty I was on the road, passing by a number of precarious establishments claiming to be ‘motels’ but better known as the safe house of many an affair.
It wasn’t long before I was navigating my trusty (often breaks down with no rhyme, reason or explanation) Ford Fiesta into the car park of an establishment that is likely responsible for more marriage breakdowns than Ikea and reality TV combined; The Gepps Cross Home Maker Centre.
If aliens visited earth and landed here, without a doubt they would get right back in and go back where they came from. A monstrosity of concrete and Mecca of capitalism taken most advantage of in the form of twelve month lay-buys and interest free plans by residents of surrounding working class suburbs; visiting this place is a risky voyage for the most mentally of sound individuals – unfortunately it attracts those who are not.
I undertook the voyage alone, not sure enough in the strength of my long term relationship to take that level of risk. I could have taken a friend however I value my friendships far too much to gamble what we’ve built on such a volatile yet petty expedition.
I entered Spotlight with all the trepidation that such an undertaking deserved. I was keen to get in and get out quickly so that I could soon reward myself with an overpriced warm drink in a nearby cafe. My goal was to engage as few people in conversation as possible – I would have no such luck. I made my way to the area that I expected to find the pins and in the process achieved my entire required daily step count, yet what I was looking for was not to be found.
Next step: engage a staff member – a task that turned out to be far more difficult than finding a genuine connection on Tinder. A few more laps of the store layout, a conversation with two staff members who looked at me as if I had three heads (to their credit I’d forgone makeup application for the day) and finally I found reached my goal, however satisfied isn’t a word I would use to describe myself. Looking at the selection of millinery brooches I was forlorn. Six for $3.50. In the past I’ve purchased 50 for around $10 in the same store however I wasn’t ready for my trip to be wasted. I grabbed two packs and headed for the checkout.
This, dear friends, is the moment where I truly began to see my grip on reality fading away. Two very young and determined yet hopeless staff members had around thirty middle aged women, a few broken husbands and a handful of bratty children lined up and expecting to be served. A saner person would have dropped their potential purchase there and then and headed to the nearest fast food restaurant to eat their sorrows into oblivion however by this point I was determined – I had my overpriced pins and I was going to buy them – even if it killed me.
By the fifteenth minute waiting I started looking at the woman in front of me, wondering, if I got the rest of the ever expanding line to team up with me, could we take her down and survive off eating her body until we were rescued?
The situation began to get dire when a woman marched through the line to get the drinks fridge near the front – she swiftly took water back to her shopping buddy who was clearly becoming dehydrated – in the mid-winter chill.
Never before have had I experienced a group of people share such a strong, negative emotion as they did when a woman marched through the shop door and immediately approach the front of the line exclaiming “I’ve just got a quick question!” – she was swiftly shut down and sent to the back of the line, where she is probably still waiting, five hours later.
I was almost at the front of the line and I heard a woman paying $950 for the collection of curtain rods and throw cushions in her trolley. I couldn’t relate – I use milk crates for all manner of furniture in my home.
Finally I was served, paying resentfully for my overpriced pins, attempting to feign a mixed look of sympathy and disappointment towards the assistant as I left.
I took a deep breath of what felt like my first taste of fresh air (which is reality was steeped in outer city fumes) as I walked out into the overcast day and appreciated my life in a way that I never had before. Whence previously I had looked forward to an afternoon alone strolling the 62,000 meters looking at Italian designed, Chinese made furniture that I could never justify buying, I was now just searching for the quickest escape.
As I got into my car and drove off, I experienced a feeling of freedom the likes of which I had never felt before. While my feeling was temporarily dulled by a red light causing me to stop and reflect on the hour that had felt like eternity, I had a new appreciation for online shopping and drive thru fast food.
Now as I sit here, now full of food that I took myself out to eat, to console my broken soul I Google “millinery brooch pins” and look what I find. Fuck bricks and mortar stores, it’s eBay for me here on out.