You may recall me saying that it is physically hard living in NY, particularly in extreme weather conditions, whether it be freezing sleet and biting wind slapping you in the face or the hot sun and drippy air constantly bathing you in your own perspiration. Take these weather conditions and combine them with the fact that you spend a majority of your traveling walking outside amid them. So. It is still true. But lets add a couple things to add to the fun.
The setting: A balmy June day in B-town, NY.
Conditions: 83 degrees, 67% humidity
Mission: Go to Pathmark and buy Jello Pudding Pops.
First, I must explain the Pathmark, also known as Suicide-mark. It is a large grocery store about a 15 minute walk from home. It is similar to, say, an Albertsons but it is bigger, nastier, smellier, shiftier, and always, ALWAYS packed with probably 5 times the amount of people. I could come at 4:02am and I'm certain it would be the same. Every time I go to the P-mark, after walking in, I immediately forget the reason for which I came and end up running basically the entire circumference of the store dodging loonies and flailing my arms like a frantic gorilla before i become a loony myself (yes, i flail my arms like that BEFORE turning crazy) and tumble out some side door exit.
Keeping this in mind, I set out there with a purpose, and one purpose only: To buy our beloved Jello Pudding Pops that, unfortunately, can only be found at the Pathmark. Taking all these circumstances into consideration, I venture out. My walk is hot and sweaty--not surprising. And I basically stay hot and sweaty the entire time. I had some initial errands to do beforehand but i won't get into them since they're boring. But keep in mind that i had been running around already--continuously sweating--before entering the Chasm of Lost Souls.
I set about my normal routine of running along the outskirts of the entire store. I find the Jello Pudding Pops with not much hassle or effort. Good deal. Except I know not to get my hopes up because there's still "the check-out." You people think you know a chaotic and packed check-out area. You think you know. You don't know. Here, they have about 20 lanes and I have never seen more than 5 open at the same time. Therefore, as the sun rises, there are always swarms of frenzied people trying to make "lines" into the check-out lanes. I try and figure out what line is headed toward the check-out that i want and get in it. It looks nothing like a line but a big glob of people. People who appear to not be in line at ALL, from all the way at the other end of aisle 5, are shouting, "Are you in that line? Where does that go to?" "Ok, I'm after her!" "And I'm after him!" "And I'm next!" Some woman who was so far away from me i could barely make her out was yelling, "I'm after that girl!" (referring to me) On top of this--and i love this--everyone either has a cart packed with food or a cart with about 4 items. The man in front of me had a cart with 2 porkchops and some soap. Either way, everyone has a cart, no exceptions. It really helps to decongest the situation.
Anyway, after standing for, oh, about 20 minutes, (quite standard) and knocking over a stack of magazines, I get to the conveyor belt. The rest goes fast enough and I grab my bag and am out of there. New Mission: Bust home as fast as possible before Pudding Pops turn into Jello Soup... or just plain pudding, i guess. So I'm haulin'. I've gotten quite good at dodging people, having exercised my cat-like speed and reflexes. Still sweating, I walk along Atlantic, the grossest street ever. It's busy, reeks of asphalt, and a graveyard of old subway trains in a big long pit decorates the edge, giving me a pleasant view on my walk home. About halfway there, (and by now, I'm swinging the bag so as to maybe create a breeze and keep cool the pudding pops) I step off the curb to cross the street when I step on something extremely sharp. "YOW!" i yell. I'm wearing flipflops so i look at my heel and i see nothing. "Must have stepped on some glass," I mutter to myself. But I'm so hot and sweaty and in such a dire need to get home and put the pops away, that the situation has become pretty desperate and I figure i'll take out the bit of glass when i get home. So i take another step. "OWW!!" I look down, a strand of sweaty hair slinking around my eyes, and again I see nothing. I wipe my heel making sure nothing's stuck in it. One more step (putting my full weight on my foot, mind you) and again, OWWW! Finally i put the mission on pause to get the invisible python off my heel. What it is, though, is not a python, but a rusty screw I had stepped squarely on, and that had gone right through my flip flop and stabbed me repeatedly while I kept taking additional steps. I chuck the screw and blood oozes out of my heel. I laugh at the situation but start bookin' it home. Pudding Pops! I try to walk keeping my heel up but a) the blood is going to run all over me no matter what I do, and b) I can't walk like that. It's awkward and I have to hurry. So I just walk right on it, blood squishing with each step.
I get home, throw in the pudding pops, and go to the bathroom to check out my heel. Observation #1: The blood is totally dried on my heel, coagulating with the dirt, rust, and probable herpes I truly fear is on everything i touch in the city, and all rests inside the wound. Observation #2: There isn't any blood on my flipflop anymore. I do see, however, a nice small hole saying hello. So apparently the blood seeped down into my flipflop and from now on and forevermore, an ethereal and maddeningly incessant chant of "tetanus...tetanus..." will hauntingly echo every step I take...
p.s. And, I stepped in gum on the way there. My flipflop has been tainted by the blood and spit of man.