I have spoken often of the Mega Store out on the edge of town. It is the equivalent of Super Target back home, a big white box store with a grocery section. I am making every effort to stay out of it now.
There is another facility here in that category, the Plaza La Luciernaga out on the highway that skirts the city. Plaza La Luciernaga is a shopping center, small by United States standards, but nonetheless a shopping center in every sense of the phrase. It is so typically a shopping center that it never occurred to me to take a photograph of it. Seen one, you have seen them all. In my entire time here I had never stopped at Plaza La Luciernaga.
On my way back from El Charco del Ingenio on Thursday I stopped in at the shopping center. I had a single purpose. My intention was to be in and out. I wanted to purchase a stack of blank CD's at Office Depot. Staples, Office Max, Office Depot. They are interchangeable. Staples happened to be my mainstay back when I was operating an office. My problem with big office supply stores is the same problem I have with large hardware stores. There is no such thing as walking in, retrieving an item, paying for it, and walking out. That was fully my intention on Thursday when I walked into Office Depot. I am easily distracted.
The stack of blank Memorex CD's that I wanted cost exactly $12.26 American. Unfortunately, in punishment for my error of walking into Office Depot in the first place, I was assessed a fine of 1,646 pesos ($127.06 American) in the form of the total tab that I paid at the checkout counter on the way out. And I had been doing so well to that point. Living frugally. Cooking instead of restaurants all the time. Attending to my budget. In fact I was living so cheaply that it was incredible. Real discipline. Real discipline. Until Office Depot.
Item one. My beloved Skullcandy earbuds for my iPod had shorted out. I no longer had sound on the left. I have another set of earphones, but they are the Sony's that hang on the outside of your ear. They look dorky. They are only suitable for private use with my laptop. I had tugged at the Skullcandy earbuds gently, I had tapped them gently, and finally I gave them a good rap on the side of the camper. They were not reparable--in any manner available to me, at least. Office Depot had in stock a decent set of Ear Thumpers for 369 pesos ($28.63 American).
Item two. I stumbled upon the cutest little one-cup electric espresso maker. I needed that. I did really. It was only 119 pesos ($9.23 American).
Item three. And here is where I really went astray a little. They had a set of Creative Labs exterior speakers for my laptop. Little black towers for 999 pesos ($77.51 American). I knew the sound would not be tremendous. I briefly considered some speakers with a little subwoofer for more than twice that amount but passed them up. I had at least not lost every last shred of self-discipline. The problem is—and I know that some of you will understand this—there are some kinds of music that do not work through earbuds. Serious jazz, for example, is not acceptable to me through earbuds. What can I say?
Those speakers work grandly by the way. I do not know what Joachim and Bärbel think of them. I try to keep them turned down. I try not to crank them. I have never tried to find eleven on the ten-point volume knob.
When one adds in the stack of blank CD's along with the impuestos, the taxes, of 214 pesos ($16.60 American), one arrives at the total fine for walking into Office Depot of 1,646 pesos. Actually, the total fine is less because we need to subtract out the CD's and the tax attributable to them. I went in with the intention of purchasing those. The total fine was therefore roughly 1,466 pesos.
For the misdemeanor of walking into Office Depot. You know what you have to do in these situations? You have to take it like a man and put it behind you.