The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.
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8:35pm on Sunday, 30th November, 2008:
Whenever I go abroad, I have to buy Stuff for my daughters. Otherwise, they'll grouch the next time I have to go anywhere. This time round I only have one daughter to worry about, the other being at university and therefore reduced to grouching by email, but I thought I'd better get her something too, just in case.
The conference I'm at doesn't officially start until tomorrow, so I thought I'd use today to buy my daughters their Stuff. There being only three weekends after this one before Christmas, I figured that most shops would be open. I asked the guy at the desk where to go, and he said downtown (which is about 20 minutes' walk away). I asked him when the shops would be open, and he said 11am.
Hmm. Maybe if I'd asked him to be more precise, he may have added that all-important word, "tomorrow". As it was, the only three places open were Starbucks, Hooters and the Hard Rock Café (whose imploring message to "save the planet" might have carried more authority if it hadn't been broadcast in luminous letters around a rotating dome). OK, so I went for a coffee at Starbucks to give the shops chance to open. The person who took my order asked me my name so she could write it on my mug, and despite the fact I said "Richard" managed to transcribe it as "Basil". I suspect my English accent may pose a larger problem than usual in this part of the world.
I wasn't the only person wandering aimlessly around downtown, either — hordes of teenagers flooded out of the Hyatt around the same time. Those shops could have done quite lot of business if they'd opened. That's if they'd opened...
However, with the shops staying resolutely shut, I finally asked at a handy information kiosk where I could find shops that were open. The woman said, "here, tomorrow". When I qualified my query with "today", she was utterly stumped. "Downtown's dead on a Sunday" was as much informtion as she could muster. Fortunately, someone else in the line for the information desk told me to go to stop NE7 ("Lenox") on the underground system, MARTA, where there was a mall. This I did (with the help of a friendly MARTA employee who got me the relevant ticket — which, had I known included a 50c excess to pay for the actual card, which is rechargeable, I wouldn't have thrown away when I got to stop NE7).
Fortunately, there was indeed a mall at NE7. I had no idea where, so was unable to help when, waiting to cross the road, a guy asked me if I knew where the mall was. He then asked someone else, who did know, so I followed the instructions and was soon there. Thankfully, it was open, packed with shops (no bookshops, but you can't have everything), and I managed to buy my girls their Stuff.
Phew! I can relax for the rest of my time here, without the worry that I'll get home Stuffless and be grouched at.
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Copyright © 2008 Richard Bartle (firstname.lastname@example.org).