Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Eavesdroppers — Polly’s away, helping the Costly Daughter through wrist surgery. She’s asked Doug to keep her up to date:
• 8 a.m. – Miss you. Car getting 29.1 miles per gallon. Up bright ‘n early (well, early). Big, specific agenda: Deposit wine-rebate checks, shop at Tops on Senior Cheapskates Day and get some complicated medicine that the cat desperately needs, all before meeting pal for breakfast at 10:30.
• 8:15 – Bank’s ATM eats the biggest check. Just takes it, says “out of service” and slams the door. Bank not open but one worker senses distress, opens the door, expresses sympathy, says, come back at 9. Agenda scrambled, accomplishment unlikely. Car getting 28.8 miles per gallon.
• 8:30 – Arrive Tops along with other penny-pinching Golden Agers, knows he’s got the right day because store’s in-house music is actually listenable. However, all the small shopping carts are gone, leaving only those the size of railroad hopper cars. Aim King Kong Kart toward cat food, but it’s been moved. Check for category signs at ends of aisles. They’re all gone. Feel like character in Kurt Vonnegut novel. Ask assistant manager are signs really gone, or did my cataracts regenerate? Confirms absence of signs, says, “This will be a challenge for you.” If Doug wanted a challenge, he’d dance with the stars.
• 8:55 – Leave Tops, arms sore, head swimming, saved $3.09, but did enjoy Ella Fitz’s riffs over the p.a. Notice that all the regular-sized carts are hidden behind the store. Car getting 28.2 miles per gallon.
• 9:05 – Back to bank. He says we’ll need to fill out form, then learns there’s a new form and this branch doesn’t have any. He’s trying very hard, brings the nation’s 11th largest bank to a standstill, is told that if nothing happens in the next two hours, he can unscrew ATM and get the check. Leave, mileage now 27.9.