So, Friday night I sign off and dash out right at 5. I need another phone, this one for my office, because today they were coming to put in the new phone line so I don't have to have customers leaving me voicemails on my home phone on Saturday mornings. There is, I'm told, a Radio Shack, five miles outside of town on Rt 287 South. The owner, who I spoke to on Thursday, advised the drive was 'just past the end of the guardrail' on the left hand side, five miles out of town. He closes at 5 Monday-Thursday, though he said "we're usually here" and I was welcome to come at 5 if I needed to, I told him I'd just come Friday after work so as not to inconvenience him.
I should explain, for those unfamiliar, that out here, there are no big box stores. No Circuit City, No Best Buy, those things are a solid 50 mile drive into New York state, where you have the privilege of paying 7.5% sales tax on whatever you buy. The mall is an hour and a half away. Most places close early, so purchases of anything you don't normally get at the grocery store involve a bit of research and planning. More often than not when you call you are speaking to the owner or one of their children. And, more often than not, they will offer to meet you outside of store hours if you are desperate, because, more often than not, their house is attached to the store.
I leave town, intending to get cash on the way at theMini-Market across from the lake. I remember only when I arrive that for some reason, that particular market does not have an ATM. Just for additional confirmation, I ask them where the Radio Shack is. They assure me its "3-4 miles down the road". I circle back to downtown get cash, and head out again, hitting my trip odometer as I do.
I go four miles.
Then seven and a half.
All I see is pitch blackness and pine trees. At this point I'm looking for a place to turn around, which is proving a little tricky. The whole way I'm feeling like a Freshman that someone has played a cruel joke on. I'm getting karma for the time I convinced a kid the school had a pool in the basement. At this point I've conceded that it was ridiculous to try and find this place in the dark. I find a driveway to turn around in and head back toward town. Five miles on I see a sign perched in the weeds just below the guardrail.
SMITH'S RV DEALERSHIP
PIANO AND ORGAN SALES
I turn down a rutted road that crosses a creek and ends on a steep hill just below a small farm. The store does not face the road. And sure enough, it is a farm/house/RV dealership/piano showroom/Radio Shack. I walk in, squinting at the wall displays of electronics, slightly disoriented, as you'd be if you stumbled upon someone in a recliner watching TV in the middle of the woods. The owner greets me with "They just got a red stag". I look at him blankly, thinking perhaps this is a code and I've stumbled on a rendezvous of spies. He gestures toward the 42 inch LCD flatscreen on which he is watching a big game hunt in New Zealand where a couple of excited guys did indeed just shoot a red stag. I express polite interest. He ushers me to one side of the store, where, mounted on the walls amid the Baldwins is EVERY LIVING THING HE EVER PLUGGED WITH A SHOTGUN. Bears, deer, elk, an antelope, a couple of menacing looking beavers.
I choose my phone, and pay cash (after all that he takes debit cards), chat with him a while longer, and head back into town. They tell me there's an excellent little general store out that way too, but I don't think I'm going to try and find it in the dark.