Walmart Ice


It was hot. I mean really hot, we were up on this volcanic plateau above Napa Valley. Living on the lake was refreshing, apart from the fact you wouldn’t want to swim in it. Blaming the contamination on the historical factory that once vomited it’s byproducts into it wasn’t quite fair. The lake, contained in the mouth of a dormant volcano, was already poisoned by geology, the fish were not for consumption. The holes in the banks of the water at the end of the garden also contained huge catfish that made even dipping my feet into the water feel less relaxing than it ought to.

It was a seriously hot today. Driving to Walmart between dry, scrubby Californian hills, I just wanted a bag of ice. A big bag of ice. I mean I wanted ice – but I had a list too. We’d need some milk and bread, Karen wanted Starbursts and Pepsi. I pulled into the parking lot, the sun blasting me as I stepped out of the car’s AC. When it’s this hot you can’t just wind down the windows, a summer breeze in your hair. You wanted to shut those damn windows and crank up the AC! Sunglasses on, sun visors down!

I don’t deal well with the heat, I feel like I am swelling and don’t make sense. In a cold climate you can put on warm clothes, a good pair of boots – regulate your body temperature. In the daunting sun, you can only take off so many layers of clothes before you are arrested for public indecency. Even then you are still hot. Cargo shorts replaced the coat pockets I was used to in Europe. I missed wearing a jacket, a cosy sweater, inside pockets. This damn heat was getting to me. Great for a vacation, a few weeks maybe, but now I could barely sleep. Kept awake all night by either the heat, or the noise of the fan on me, I simply wanted to be cold at night – snuggled up in an all consuming duvet. I couldn’t even open the windows for the mosquitoes.

Some locals would come to Walmart just for the AC, and just wander around. There wasn’t a lot to do in Lake County, most of the customers looked they just arrived straight from their bed. Pajama bottoms being the standard dress it seemed today.

Well, having got everything I stood in line at the check-out before paying for it all. Wait! No, I came for ice. This would always happen, Karen would ask me to pick up stuff and I would remember all that but forget what I came out for. Ice was the easiest to forget, they always had it in freezers beyond the check-out alongside the fishing bait. Basically you are supposed to pay for it and pick it up on the way out.

“Oh, I need some ice! I told the cashier.

“Do you want a big bag or a small bag?”

“What’s the difference?” I asked.

“Well, a small bag is ten pounds, and a big bag is twenty pounds.”

“WHAT! Twenty pounds for a bag of ice, that’s ridiculous!!!” I exclaimed.

“Remember what country you are in sir.” She smiled.

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