Exploring East + Else

After collapsing Friday night from a week of advising and other new student events, we decided to take the weekend entirely off from work. Actually, decided that before collapsing.

Saturday night we hosted friends for dinner and caught Crank, which was both forumlaic in the mobster badguy action genre and entertaining in its subtle innovations. Sunday and today, we did some exploring.

We’d heard tell that the new Ikea out in Boucherville was much better than the one by the airport. We visited the airport Ikea several times after moving, and between them constantly being out of stuff, and me sitting outside one night watching one couple after another in various stages of breaking up as they tried to shove oddly shaped boxes in their cars, I’d had enough. But let’s face it: when you’ve broken enough glasses to need some more, along with a coat tree, a garlic press, and some dishtowels, there’s one place that’s going to have it all well designed and for not much money. We also had a fantasy of finding something that would function like a library cart, but that’s just a fantasy. So we believed our friends who said that Boucherville was better and set out there yesterday afternoon.

Except there’s on thing: it was Sunday of labo(u)r day weekend. There is no “day after thanksgiving” in Canada for the biggest shopping day of the year. No, I’d say that this weekend has to be one of the top shopping periods of each year. Especially if all those newspaper articles are right and the “back to school set” is the latest hot thing among retailers. And so, it is probably one of the stupidest possible decisions that we could have made to trek out to Boucherville in search of a new garlic press.

The trip itself was uneventful, except that we got to see an eastern part of the town we hadn’t seen yet, and drive out to the somewhat familiar looking eastern suburbs (we’d never been there but they look like new suburban development looks). But we would soon encounter the worst traffic jam we’d seen since moving here. The traffic began when we got to the shopping area. Bumper to bumper. Crawling, then stopping. And on and on. We weaved past the outlet stores, the coffee shops, the chain BBQ restaurant, all in name of our quest for cheap yet “designed” kitchenware. But when it came time turn left into the Ikea lot, the traffic was simply too jammed to make that possible. After rolling down the window and persuading the guy blocking traffic to move up a few inches so that the car in front of us could move (“continuez un peu, s.v.p.?”), we turned right, resigned to the idea that this was a fool’s errand (so to speak) and that we would just enjoy the ride home to the tunes of Bill Lasswell.

And then we saw it. On our way out, there was a parking spot in front of Future Shop. It’s a city block or two of parking lot to Ikea, but what the hell. We were there, and anyway, traffic was jammed on the way out the parking lot. What clinched it for me was seeing people walking by with Ikea shopping carts. So we decided to heap stupidity upon error and go on in. The trip to Ikea itself was uneventful. Miraculously, they weren’t out of everything (like the one by the airport) and we were in no position to see any breakups. We got our glasses, our garlic press and our coat tree (mysteriously named “Portis” which is apparently Swedish for “Washington Redskins Running Back With A Separated Shoulder”). Then we left and walked back to the car.

The traffic jam appeared to be better, but cars were still everywhere, facing every direction. We headed down one lane of parking lot and waited patiently. Every 15 minutes or so, we advanced about one car length. Finally, we were about to merge into the lane that led out of the parking lot to a road, and a woman rolled down her window to shout to us. She said that she had been sitting in the jam for an hour and a half, during which she had advanced from Archambault to almost in front of Future Shop (that’s a length of two “Superstore” fronts or about half a strip mall, if that’s a measurement). She suggested we turn around and try going the other way. And so we did. Ten minutes later, we were on the freeway, though I suspect it had something to do with the police finally showing up and guiding everyone else out of there.

You know how suburban roads are designed to wind around so that drivers are forced to move in a more leisurely fashion and so that traffic doesn’t flow too well or too quickly? Well, it turns out that the plan works.

(to be continued)