It’s the Saturday morning ritual, even though today is Tuesday—we’re starting a Thanksgiving mega-long weekend . We sat on the couch—each with a second cup of coffee on the table next to us—planning the day. Susan had the HB McClure pad. A freebie pad of paper I scored in a meeting at work. It gets a lot of use. Once spent, we’ll be forced to buy pads ever after. This habit is formed.
We listed all the tasks we could think of: hers, mine, ours. Mine usually includes a run. But today isn’t Saturday. It’s not a running day. Renew passports. This one weighed on Susan for over a year. With today’s psycho political situation, we want no barriers to getting the hell out of the country. Passports topped the list.
Last weekend, we got our photos taken. When we did this eleven years ago, the only place we could find passport photos was the Super Walmart in Hanover—the biggish town twenty-five minutes away. The Gettysburg Walmart isn’t super-sized. I’d call it normal-sized, but three quarters of Walmarts are super. So not normal, just pathetic.
In 2010, we went to the Walmart Photo Shop. A separate room at the front of the store for all things photographic. Picture processing, film developing, and with a professional photographer on staff, it’s where young families went to get glamour shots of their babies. The photographer took our pictures. “Take your glasses off. No, don’t smile.” We felt cared for.
I have no idea when that Photo Shop disappeared. We walked up to the front and center of the store and stared—now a bank. Right, film processing is in the back, just like at our little Walmart. The guy running the register in electronics shook his head. “We stopped doing that years ago.” It made me want to complain, “Google says you still do,” but what’s the point. They won’t start now just because of me.
Back to Google. The CVS pharmacy in Gettysburg takes the photos. This sounds like a nightmare. They built the CVS five years ago, but neither of us have been inside. Our pharmacy is Rite Aid. It’s less than a mile from home… was. About two months ago, they fell apart. A pharmacist quit, then another. Lines stretched halfway across the store. Thirty minutes to reach the register “Your prescription isn’t ready yet.”
“I called it in three days ago.”
“We’re short-staffed.” Not surprisingly, the last pharmacist quit. And the store manager. Too many pissed customers. The pharmacy closed. The rest of the store seems to be run by the twenty-two-year-old woman at the register. Often, I wonder where all these employees who quit their jobs went. Not to other stores, everyone’s short-staffed. The other day it occurred to me that this might be the Rapture. People are disappearing one-by-one, being called to heaven.
Dreading a similar chaotic vibe at CVS, we went there anyway. We want those passports, dammit. It’s a dreary store with crowded, jumbled, disorganized aisles. But they have employees. And no line, a helpful associate took our photos, snipped them to size and sent us on our way in less than ten minutes. Efficient, professional, I think he’s still in high school. Today we printed the passport applications, packaged them up and dropped them in the mail.
“Cross it off the list!” Lining out the to do list is the best part. After our passports arrive, nothing can hold us here. We’re free to leave at any time. If we gotta jam, we jam.