Lucy makes sure nothing happens to the cat food
You people with cars won't understand this, but sometimes we sit around and discuss all the things we could do if we had one. How we could go to Ikea, to Costco, to the Catskills (I don't know why we bring that up, neither of us knows anything about the Catskills). The idea that we could have something to not only transport us around but also hold heavy items so that we may bring them to our door, well, let's just say we understand the allure.
Eventually these conversation descend into all the reasons we SHOULDN'T ever have a car: the costs, the worries about theft, the moving from one side of the street to the other all the time. So we end feeling pleased we are still reliant on mass transit. But this weekend we were able to tool around and block the box like all those SOBs who act like they don't see me jaywalking on 23rd St.
Empty Cages had put out a request for a washing machine, and a woman offered up her washer and dryer for free. Someone would need to go get them, but nearly every member of the group was working an adoption event scheduled for the same day. They needed a Transporter.
I saw this not only as an opportunity to help out the group but to turn the whole thing to my selfish advantage and take the van out shopping after my chores were done. So I picked up the van at my favorite Uhaul spot in East New York where the receptionist calls everybody "Honey" and your transactions are constantly interrupted by people buying bags of ice (their other business) and people yelling at each other loudly. I got the van and an appliance dolly and started up to the BQE. Before getting on the highway, I stopped off at a friend's house to finally pick up the air conditioner she said I could have months before. Originally I intended to use this AC myself, but somehow I promised it to Empty Cages along the way (maybe it's a cult). With the AC stowed, I was off to Bay Ridge.
I got there way faster than I thought (thank you Robert Moses), located the apartment and found the donators ready for me. The woman's burly son, along with his burly friend, were ready with the washer/dryer. These things were huge, front-loading machines, the washing machine itself weighing almost 250 pounds. With effort we got them into the van with millimeters to spare.
As I headed up to the shelter space, I was already doing the math: 2 Burly Guys + Me = Barely got it into the van, therefore me + [UNKNOWN] = spinal injury. I got up to the space and amassed a few people to help move them. It didn't look good, unfortunately it appears that cat rescue attracts few really muscular people. But lucky for us, some truly tough guys were right down the block.
There's been a big bus on the block for a while now, all painted and graffiti-covered, and big dudes are always around working on it. It's one of those biodiesel conversions, which is better for the environment (even better for it is the fact that it hasn't moved in weeks). We asked a couple of the guys if they would help and they agreed.
We tried to pitch in but they basically did all the work, strapping the machines to the dolly and lugging it up the narrow stairs. Their only remuneration: they wanted to meet the roosters (liberated from cockfighting dens in the Bronx). They said they hear them crowing all the time and had wondered where it came from. The rooster complied loudly.
With the machines dropped off, the job was essentially over. This gave me the perfect excuse to commandeer the van and use it to my own nefarious purposes. I drove home, picked up Jeannie and we drove to the Sunset Park Costco.
I haven't been in a wholesale store in years and Jeannie had never been. It's pretty overwhelming at first. We got memberships and ID card and waded through the enormous crowds with our oversize cart. We knew we wanted cat supplies but we didn't have a list or even a clear idea of what Costco carried. I was convinced they would have 'everything' from kitty litter to furniture, while Jeannie thought it would be far more limited. The truth was somewhere in the middle, an odd collection of stuff with no discernible theme. You could buy 20-packs of bar soap, but they didn't carry Ivory. You could select from a huge variety in brands of laundry detergent but no one brand had the oil-drum size I was searching for. However in some areas they had exactly what we were looking for.
I had been told by Lisacat that Costco carried a decent-quality cat food, and indeed, it is higher quality that it has any need to be. It's all chicken and rice, no wheat and no meat by-products. It's sold in 25-lb. bags, of which we bought 5. They also had cases of canned Friskies which we also picked up. But there wasn't much else in the way of cat supplies, just some Iams and 40-lb. buckets of Scoop Away litter (we bought one even though I find Scoop Away overly perfumey). I still can't figure out why the cat food was so premium when they don't appear to have much interest in cats beyond these few supplies, but I'll take it.
After getting that, everything else was gravy. The place is huge; at first I thought it was merely big until I realized there was a whole other floor to the place. We bought as much stuff as we could justify and by the time we got to the check-out, we both had to push the cart, it was so heavy. We lucked with a short check-out line and got back to the van in plenty of time (and oh yeah, we stopped at the liquor store next door and bought a couple of huge bottles of Jim Beam, just in case we need several gallons of whiskey soon).
We got the stuff home and dumped it off (the cats were very excited to see the cat food so it had to be stowed in the bathroom until we could deal with it). We got the van back before the office closed, so we didn't have to worry about getting up in the morning to return it. I can't believe it all went down without any mishaps, usually these vehicle encounters always result in some injury, however small. But I managed to drive without running into anything/anybody, and near as I can figure the equipment we transported suffered no real damage. Mission Accomplished.
So it was fun having an excuse to drive around and do stuff in a car, but by the end of the day I was happy to return it and walk away. There's just too many things to worry about when you own a car, and I got enough stuff to obsess over these days. But maybe I will sign up for that Zipcar thing, although I'm not sure it's worth it when the Uhaul van is closer and cheaper. And really, is there anything cooler than driving a cargo van that tells everyone how cheap you are?