Sunday, July 31, 2005

Russia is not a meth lab.

You should never go to Wal-Mart on a Sunday afternoon in a small, Southern town. Going to Wal-Mart after church (or perhaps after Sunday brunch) seems to be The Thing To Do. You should also attempt to avoid Wal-Mart during the tax-free-back-to-school sales event that happens once a year around this time. You really should never go to Wal-Mart on a Sunday afternoon during tax-free-time. However, being that it's less than two weeks before I head off to Russia, I figured it was time for me to make my initial mass purchase of everything I will need for one year. You know, deodorant, dental floss, vitamins and such. Being that today was not only Sunday, but the last day of the tax-free shopping "holiday," Wal-Mart was packed. I had a very long list, and by the time I had found everything that I needed, I was feeling incredibly agitated. Why is it that Wal-Mart inevitably seems packed with rude, mindless idiots? 

Luckily, I somehow managed to find a cashier with an empty lane. I don't know how that happened. Total fluke. Anyway, she's in the middle of ringing up my basket full of stuff, when suddenly, up on the screen pops the message Sale Denied. Sale denied? She was holding a box of Advil Allergy and Sinus (which I have to tell you is one of my favorite products on the planet), and looking very confused. She called over her manager. I'd heard talk of limits being placed on the purchase of products containing pseudoephedrine, due to the fact that this over the counter drug is a key ingredient in methamphetamine. I hadn't realized such limits had been enacted. Anyhow, my plans for buying enough DayQuil, NyQuil, Advil Allergy and Sinus and Sudafed Nighttime to deal with any possible illness I might encounter while in Russia were foiled. The manager looked at me rather suspiciously. 

What do you need with all of these cold medicines? she asked. 

I explained that I was going to Russia for a year and that I was stocking up on everything I might need while overseas. 

She uttered a disbelieving hrrumph, and explained that I could only purchase three products containing pseudoephedrine because of the new law. 

I asked if the remaining cold medicine could simply be rung up separately. 

Well, apparently that was a Very Suspicious thing to say. 

She frowned, and began to speak to me loudly, and in a very authoritarian manner. No, you may not. And don't think about going to another register! I'll see you, and I'll stop you. 

Umm, okay. I just don't want to have to go to work without any DayQuil in the likely even that I come down with Russian Flu this winter. I asked her if I could come back tomorrow and purchase three more such items. 

She narrowed her eyes and said, Well, I won't be here tomorrow. I thought about simply putting my purchases in my car and going back in to try again... but I had the feeling that this lady was going to be watching for me. It wouldn't do to be arrested on suspicion of running a meth-lab less than two weeks before I'm due to depart. Russia is not a meth-lab, dammit! (In her defense, there are probably very few, if any, other people from our small town who visit Russia, much less go there for a year. And there are probably a good number of meth-labs in the rural parts of our county... but still!)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Getting closer to departure!

Thirteen days until I leave for Russia! I am incredibly underprepared. Those of you who know me are probably aware that I have a bit of an obsession with packing. Before going on any sort of major journey I tend to start packing and re-packing approximately two months in advance. It's less than two weeks until I head out, and I don't even have a suitcase! I should really do something about this. At least I now have my Russian visa. (For the uninitiated, this is not a credit card. This is the little bit of paper inserted into my passport that allows me to enter - and work in - the Russian Federation.) It arrived today, so it seems that aside from not having a suitcase, I'm set. I really suppose I should get myself a suitcase. I have a visa, passport and plane ticket. It seems that I am going.