Monday, November 30, 2009

November 30, 2009

Christmas is coming, and that means it’s time for Christmas shopping. With the Canadian dollar as high as it is right now, we figured it was a good time to head across the border to Niagara Falls, New York to do some shopping at the outlet malls. The day started off innocently enough, with a smooth ride along the QEW to the Queenston-Lewiston bridge. Unfortunately, that’s where the smooth ride ended, as we wound up waiting in line at the border crossing for just over an hour.

While we were waiting in line, I saw something I’ve never seen before in all my years of border crossings (and there have been many). We were sitting in the car, listening to music and talking, when suddenly we saw a man get out of a silver Cadillac and start walking between the cars towards the Border Guards’ booths. We were about 10th-to-12th in line at the time, and I said simply “That’s not going to end well.” We tried to see what happened to the Happy Wanderer, but we lost sight of him based on the cars and vans blocking our view. I’m not sure what would ever compel someone to get out of their car at this point, much less to actually walk between the cars and approach the gate. It seems like it would just be asking for trouble…and sure enough, after we passed through the border crossing about 20 minutes later, there was a police/border cruiser, lights flashing, with the Silver Cadillac. Gee…who could have seen that coming?

When we got to the mall, one of the first stores we passed had a New York Yankees championship T-Shirt in the window, so I went in to check it out. As I walked in, I saw the shirts folded on a rack on the side wall, so I walked over there, and as I got to the display, I saw that the shirt on the top of the stack was FIVE XL. That’s right…XXXXXL. A quick glance revealed 2 XL and 3 XL nearby, and I silently reminded myself how nice it was to be back in the Unite States of America.

When we went into second store, Eddie Bauer, I was re-introduced to the beauty of the Western New York accent, as I heard the manager barking instructions to her staff on where to find the “Blayck” sweaters. Childhood flashbacks of Irv Weinstein or Don Postles teasing the 11 O’clock news with the top story of a “Cheektowaga house fire!” came flooding back as my ears struggled to comprehend. Although the most entertaining thing in the Eddie Bauer outlet wasn’t the accent, it was the item we saw at the check-out, simply called “Fog-Off” (see below). I can’t decide what was more entertaining, the actual name of the product, or the person in line who saw me taking a picture of it and asked what it does.
The rest of the day was a comedy of errors, with cars stalking people in the parking lot waiting to nab their spot, and frustrated shoppers not wanting to deal with long lineups at the cash registers. The Bass shoe outlet had a ridiculous sale on where if you bought one pair of women’s boots, you got two pairs for free. That’s right, THREE pairs for the price of one! I had to laugh as I walked in and saw a number of men standing there holding two boxes each as their respective significant others looked for that third pair. Soon enough, I found myself holding two boxes as well…Murphy’s Law.
I was looking at dress shirts in one store, and overheard the following exchange between an employee and a customer:

Employee: “It’s just a job, sir.”
Customer: “Well, maybe you should get one you like.”
Employee: “I’m just doing my job, sir”
Customer: Well, I’m just a customer trying on a shirt. I don’t need your attitude because you hate your job.”
Employee: “Here’s your shirt, sir” (hands him shirt, clearly seething)
Customer: “Thank you.” (snatches shirt and goes into change room)
Employee: “Asshole.”

Christmas shopping really brings out the best in people, doesn’t it? Now, that’s Christmas spirit! Get those two some Egg Nog!

One great thing we saw was in the Tops Supermarket where there was also a Tim Hortons inside. The shopping carts had a cup holder attached to the top tray so that you could put your coffee in it while you shopped. We need those back here! Very smart, and surprising to see across the border but not here.
On the way home, as we were waiting in line once again to get across the border, we were laughing about the situation earlier in the day where we saw the man get out of his car and end up with the police. Sure enough, we see another man get out of his car and start wandering around…smoking, no less. And ANOTHER guy who was only a few cars from getting through the border gate who got out of his car, popped open his trunk, and started re-arranging items. Not the brightest people…

Getting back across the border into Canada is always a relief. Now my ears could stop being on guard from that wonderful accent. We went out for a nice Italian dinner at Mama Mia’s, a restaurant I used to go to when I was a kid, and the portions of food we got were gargantuan. Seriously, look at the size of this bowl of tortellini!
Needless to say, I couldn’t finish it, and even the leftovers for lunch today were too much! But it was a great meal.

Turns out I didn’t actually get a lot of Christmas shopping done. I did some, but I ended up just buying a few clothes for myself and a few other things for Lucas. All in all it was a great day, another adventure in beautiful Niagara Falls, New York. (lock your doors!)

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