Friday, April 8, 2011

Running Errands . . .

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this here before, but my job has a sweet setup by which we get to work extra hours during the two-week pay period in order to have one day off within that same time. So myself, I get every other Friday off throughout the year! This is great because I tend to use these days to get most of my errands done that I can't get done on a work day or on weekends. Some of the time I use it to go to doctor and dentist appointments. Sometimes I visit friends. Mostly, though, I use it just to chill out at home and recharge my batteries since Friday happens to also be my one and only non-workout day of the week.

But then there's days like today where I have to go to the nearby parking garage in my neighborhood and take out the Zipcar to replenish our dwindling food and household supplies at home. Zipcar is awesome for those of you who don't know what it is. It's a car rental service, but you can rent by the hour -- or even half hour, if you want. Best yet, if you live in a big city like I do, chances are there's a parking lot near you that has anywhere from 4 to 8 cars available to all members. You call or go online to set up your reservation, stroll up to the lot closest to your house, and find the car that matches the one you picked out. Then you simple put up your membership card to the RFID box behind the windshield, and the doors automatically unlock for you. It's so simple! Once you're done, you bring the car back and never have to worry about finding parking or maintaining the vehicle. Oh, and insurance and gas is already included in your reservation price.

Like I said -- AWESOME!

So, anyway, around every 6 to 8 weeks or so I make a Zipcar drive up to the Costco in the next county. It's a chance for me to get out on the road (which I love), but then I have to shop (which I loathe). Still, it's a necessary evil since what I buy at Costco saves me a helluva lot of time, effort and money at the local grocery stores here in the city. But today as I went about my normal routine, I stopped in the refrigerated section where all the milk and orange juice is stored. And I realized, not for the first time, how strange the arrangement here is. Take a look:




See? That there is the side of the room where all the many gallons of milk are stacked. I'm a big milk drinker, always have been. So a sight like this does a body good for me. But here's the funny thing I noticed about this arrangement -- all the healthy, fat-free milk is kept as far away from human contact as possible. See, first up there in the forefront of the image are all the red-labeled whole milk. Right behind them are the blue and greens of the 2% and low-fat milk. And what about the pink fat-free milk? Well, they can't be seen from here . . . not until you walk all the way to the back and find them hiding in some forgotten corner like heartbroken step children sent to the basement with no supper. The nerve!




Seriously, what's the deal with that? Why is it always such a chore to find the non-heart attack causing milk in stores? Is it a conspiracy? Or, perhaps more people want--nay, DEMAND--their fatty fat fat dairy? I know, I know . . . most likely it's for the kids. The kids, they say, they be needing their whole milk. And I guess that's true. I would never want any kid to go without their essential daily fat content. Lord knows this country has a serious skinny-kid epidemic, after all.

Still, for a wild moment there I thought that perhaps all my precious fat free milk had fallen off a truck somewhere in Jersey -- ACK!!! I was so relieved to find out such was not the case. *phew*

Anyway, I ended up making my usual circuit around the giant Costco warehouse. I always get a lot of stares from people--mostly mothers--because I'm a young guy shopping by myself with a TON of food in my cart. And because it's Friday in the middle of the morning, too! But that's just the way it has to be. It's too expensive to keep a car full time in the city, so Costco runs can only come when we can get the Zipcar and when we really need to go.

Oh, and I should mention that it wasn't all serious grown-up shopping I did today. Of course I had to snag a nice new tech toy for me to play with on the way out of the warehouse. Now usually I don't look to Costco for my gadget needs. I mean, ewww! But lately my crappy bargain printer at home has been going through its last moments on this Earth. I had gone to Costco with the intention of buying some replacement ink cartridges for it, but to be honest . . . this thing needed to be put out of its misery already. So, even though I had not intended to go all out like this, I ended up wandering over to the electronics section of the store and snagging this:




That there is an HP 4500 Wireless all-in-one machine sitting on my desk in the den! It does print jobs, faxes, scans -- and photo copies, too! And all within pretty much the same footprint as my old crappy printer-only contraption. See, here it is all properly set up and beautiful, sitting in the spot where our old Lexmark ink-jet used to be:




And it runs like a charm. I absolutely love it! I can't believe I waited this long for something that is so essential to a household of professional working adults. Hooray for technology!

Speaking of technology, I had a funny moment when I was leaving Costco and heading for the car in the parking lot. See, Zipcar has an Apple iPhone app (naturally, of course) which you can use to make reservations or edit an already existing reservation. But the coolest feature of this app is the ability to lock or unlock the car from afar before you even get to it. This is useful if, like at Costco, you're pushing a heavy shopping cart full of supplies through the lot while dodging clueless drivers seeking that elusive empty spot. Simply pull out your phone before you set off and push the "unlock" button in the Zipcar app. And by the time you get to the car -- presto! You don't need to fish for the keys!




But Zipcar has this amusing message when you first push the "unlock" icon. It says: "Your request is being sent to space and back. This should only take a sec . . ."

As a sci-fan fan and writer, I get a huge kick out of this! But it also reminds me of the stand-up comedian Louis CK, and his rant about how we don't appreciate all the cool technology we have nowadays. Here, check out this clip below where he takes on people's ridiculous frustrations with something as wonderful and useful as cell phones (the relevant part begins at the 1:40 minute mark):





LOLZ! This is so true. People need to have more patience. Especially considering the alternatives we used to have not all that long ago.

How do you feel about today's technology? Useful tools you find yourself increasingly unable to live without? Or annoying demon gadgets placed here on this planet to annoy the crap out of you? Sound off in the comments below.

9 comments:

Botanist said...

I loved that video, and it is so true. People just don't appreciate what they've got, but on the flip side we have gotten dependent on it too. I feel a slight sense of fear now if I leave the house without my cellphone. What if something happens on the road? How will I reach people? How will I let Ali know I'm delayed? That just wasn't an option a few years ago.

As for other things, my employer also runs that day-off-every-two-weeks scheme, which most of my staff take advantage of. Sadly, as a manager, I get the pleasure of working all the extra hours for no time off at the end of it :(

Spooky, too, we take a trip out to the nearest Costco every couple of months, mainly for bulk purchases that would cost twice as much at the normal supermarket. We are off there tomorrow.

Have a great weekend!

getyourselfconnected said...

I will mess with you, there is significant evidence that milk (homogenized; fat micells let loose) cause arterial blockage!

Nice post, but you need to get on an open road with a nasty strong car and let it rip! Nothing like it.

David Batista said...

Ian -- That's weird we both had Costco runs to make this weekend. What a coincidence!

GYC -- That's okay, I'm not scared. I don't know if you've read my health entries on this blog, but arterial blockage is not something I'll probably have to worry about. My doc puts me through quite the screening twice a year, and heart health, cholesterol, and plaque buildup is something he watches closesly. I'm one of the healthiest things walking around on two feet, according to him. And, hey, as of my last screening my triglycerides reading was a 38! That's ridiculously good! So I can drink all the fat free milk I want. :)

Yvonne said...

Ha! I enjoyed reading this! -A voyeouristic insight into the Errands Day of David -hahaha! I'd never heard of the Zip Car -that's very convenient! Though, I think if it were me, I'd constantly be worrying about whether or not they would have a car readily available to me when I needed one. I'd be the one having nightmares that they are all out! lol

David Batista said...

Well, I usually schedule a week or two in advance. Although for this past Friday, I waited until the last minute and reserved one only the night before. High demand is usually on the weekends, though. And even still, in a place like NYC there are so many Zipcars available that you'd be hard pressed not to find one. In my immediate area alone there are 3 different parking garages within walking distance which hold around 6 - 8 Zipcars on average. The only time I ever see all the garages booked solid is during the major holidays. Thanksgiving especially.

getyourselfconnected said...

Hey David, hope you had a good weekend. Back to the grind tomorrow, ugh.

David Batista said...

Yeah, you know it. Ugh is right! And I did have a good weekend, thanks.

Jennifer Hillier said...

The zip car is COOL. I used to see them everywhere when we lived downtown - not so much now that we're the (boring) suburbs.

I could spend hours at Costco just walking around. I love the food samples. I love how everything is BIG. It's impossible not to blow a couple hundred bucks there.

Hope you had a good weekend!

David Batista said...

Yeah, I'm always so dismayed by the bill at Costco. And yet, I NEED every single item I buy there. NEED them, I say! :) Zipcar is a huge godsend for people who live in highly populated urban centers where owning a car is not just unfeasible, but actually prohibitive. It's almost as if you get penalized for owning a car in New York City. Bleh!

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