Tag Archives: walmart

Lumiere London: Or, Black Friday-style crowds outside in the cold looking at cool art

16 Jan

In an effort to mix things up and take advantage of this great city we live in, Stephen and I decided to go to Lumiere London. According to the official website, we would get to “experience installations from the world’s most exciting artists working with light” and “see the city transformed into an extraordinary nocturnal delight” — all for free! Cool, right?

Just look at this:

lumiere london oxford st

Neato!

And this:

lumiere london building
Photos courtesy Time Out London

Awesome!

We had to see it! So we hopped on the Tube a little before the event started at 6:30pm. We figured it might be a little crowded, but many of the roads were closed so there’d be plenty of space… right? I downloaded the Lumiere map on my phone and we made a game plan: start at Oxford Circus, then work our way down Regent Street and Carnaby, cut through to Piccadilly, then head over to Trafalgar Square before going back to Chinatown to get some of our beloved roast duck as takeaway for dinner. We honestly thought we’d be able to just speed by each installation and pick up dinner, in the same way my brother and I once thought we could just pick up some other necessities while we just happened to be at Wal-Mart on Black Friday a few years back. Ha! Hahahaha!

Lumiere London is beautiful, I’ll give it that. But Lumiere London is also Black Friday Wal-Mart crowded, which takes away from its beauty a bit. Imagine Black Friday Wal-Mart crowds so thick you can barely push your way through to the next aisle, except those crowds begin at the Oxford Street Tube station and spill out into all of Oxford and Regents streets.

“I immediately regret this decision,” I told Stephen the moment we pushed our way out of the Tube exit, only to be met with hordes of people pointing their phones to the sky.

“I just want to get out of here safely,” he replied. We both innately like to avoid crowds, but in light of recent news events, crowded spaces have become even less desirable.

We moved in the amoeba-like crowd down Regent Street until we were able to break off onto a side street. As we made our way towards Piccadilly, we heard the elephant before we saw it.

lumiere elephant.jpg
Photo courtesy BBC

And then we were once again forced to join the amoeba as we hit a wall of tourists and slow as molasses passed by Piccadilly. Looking down it was quite a sight:

lumiere-london fish.jpg
Photo courtesy Harper’s Bazaar

But we didn’t dare face the crowds and go down the road further.

“I’m done,” Stephen declared.

“I just want to see the dogs,” I said, referring to the glowing wiener dog balloons just down the Strand. “We’ll see the dogs, then hop on the Charring Cross Tube and be done.” At this point getting the duck was out of the question. One can only take so much amoeba crowd traveling in a night, and there was no way we were going to fight against the amoeba to go in the opposite direction.

We passed a real live dog on the side of the street wearing a glowing collar.

“Can he count?” Stephen asked.

“We’re almost there, I just want to see the dogs,” I replied. As we neared the site of the wiener dog balloons I saw a crowd at least 20 people thick. If we did manage to get through, there would be no getting out.

I no longer needed to see the dogs. The real live dog was probably cooler anyway. This online photo would have to suffice.

lumiere london wiener dogs.jpg
Photos courtesy Time Out London

I didn’t take any photos of my own the entire time because I wanted to fully live in the moment and use my brain as a camera. …Actually, that’s a lie. I just didn’t want to be a contributing clog in the artery of Lumiere pedestrian traffic or get my phone stolen. That, and no photo I took would be as good as all the professionals’ I procured for this post.

Although a part of me does wish I had photographed the real live glowing collar dog.

 

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Stoplights, As and 4s, and London, Kentucky

3 Dec

Before I begin, allow me to post a photo of my pants:

boston terrier pants

Yes, friends, I am finally in possession of magical Boston terriers wearing santa hats pants. And they were on sale plus 40 percent off, so I got them cheaper than I would have had I bought them on Thanksgiving. So thanks, Old Navy employees who had no idea where they were then.

I went to Walmart today for an eye exam. I don’t go to Walmart often. Not because of some hoity-toity “I watched a documentary on Netflix” beliefs, but because it’s not exactly close to my house and the sheer size of the superstore and parking lot scares me. Sometimes when I’m in London walking everywhere I miss the convenience of driving, but today I wished I could walk to Walmart. The store is only four miles from my house — a supposed 10-minute drive — but I got stuck at every stoplight and was late for my appointment. At least when you’re walking you can jaywalk. And then I swear it took another five minutes just to get from the turn in to the parking lot to an actual open parking space. Thankfully the vision center was near the front door, or else it’d be another 10 minutes just to walk from one end to the other.

While I’m on a complaining roll, I don’t like eye exams. I’m always convinced I got something wrong. I remember during my very first eye exam for contacts in eighth grade the doctor said, “Read the letters for me.” I saw a distinct “4” but since he said “letters,” I said “A.” And since I was still painfully shy at that age, I didn’t correct him or change my answer, so I probably got the wrong prescription. Every time I go I swear my prescription changes by .25. Are my eyes really getting worse, or am I just bad at the test? “Which is better, 1 or 2?” “Can I see 1 again?” “2… no, wait, they’re the same, no, maybe 1…” I’ve had many eye exams since eighth grade and I still can’t seem to get things right. So I left today with a prescription .25 worse than last time, but at least the eye exam was cheap. And I found Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa at Walmart, which they don’t sell at Kroger, as well as cinnamon chips, which apparently are like chocolate chips, but cinnamon. I’m excited to use both in oatmeal, but probably not at the same time.

I’ll leave you with this eye doctor quote of the day:

“There’s really something not right about a person whose first thought is ‘London, Kentucky.'”

(After I told him I was visiting from London, England and he jokingly replied, “Not London, Kentucky?” And I told him he’d be surprised by how many people first ask “London, Kentucky?” I was going to devote a whole blog post to the phenomenon, it’s happened that much. Some I hope are joking, but I’m afraid too many are serious. Perhaps I just need to fake a British accent.)

Why Black Friday may no longer be my favorite holiday

25 Nov

Remember when I said Black Friday was my favorite American holiday? People always thought I was crazy. Turns out I have never really experienced a true Black Friday. Now I know why.

At first my family set a no-shopping-on-Thanksgiving rule. We were to hang around the house, eat, then relax as a family. But then we saw Old Navy’s coupon was only valid on Thanksgiving and would give better deals than Black Friday. And if my family enjoys anything more than hanging out with each other, it’s hanging out with each other while getting a good deal. So while my dad watched the turkey, my mom, brother and I went to Old Navy. And since that was OK, my brother and I thought we’d go to Michael’s in the evening, since their coupon was also better on Thanksgiving. And since that was OK, we figured we’d just pop into Walmart and get some deals on video games and blu-rays.

Ha.

I don’t know what I imagined Black Friday to be like at Walmart, but there really are no words. So here’s a thousand’s worth:

We waited in a long queue at Michael’s then made it to Walmart just in time for the specials that began at 10 p.m. My brother had his heart set on an Xbox but the minute we walked in the already-busted door he knew that deal was long gone. We didn’t even try to park in the store’s lot, opting to park near the office buildings across the street.  Once we entered the store it was choose-your-own-cliche: a zoo; a madhouse. We wanted to beeline for the electronics section, but we couldn’t move. Aisles were blocked wall to wall with shoppers and their massive carts full of loot. Police officers and security stood guard by giant bins full of goods that could not be sold until midnight or 8 a.m.

“I was trying to get the Paula Deen pan set and somebody stepped on my foot,” we overheard someone shout in a strong southern drawl.

“I just want to get the game and get out,” my brother said. “I don’t care about anything else.”

An employee was blocking off aisles with yellow tape. It was unclear why, so we cut underneath it. She protested but didn’t stop us. We maneuvered our way through the crowds, similar to a motorcyclist in a traffic jam. We were probably breaking some cardinal rule of Walmart Black Friday, but from what I could tell, there were no rules, just utter chaos. There weren’t even any sale prices on anything – you had to remember what was on sale from the flyer. We finally made our way to the electronics section, passing hundreds of customers with carts waiting in line for who-knows-what. We came upon the video game case, only to find the game we really wanted was gone. My brother grabbed a couple blu-rays he remembered were on special and was about to give up on the game when we found a few stashed in another display. We found an electronics till with no line which seemed too good to be true, but went for it. That’s the thing about Black Friday – some things are too good to be true, but some aren’t, and when they aren,’t, you just have to go for it because there are no rules; every man for himself. Purchased goods in hand, we felt a sense of victory… until we realized we had to exit the store.

Miraculously the whole ordeal only took us a half hour, but if we had waited in the lines to check out up front, we probably would have been there until 2 a.m. We lucked out by parking across the street and not trying to manuver a cart around, but I would still never go to Walmart again on a Black Friday (or Thursday) ever. No deal is worth that. That’s why God invented the Internet.

We went to the mall this morning and could not turn in because a gaggle of geese were crossing.

I am also mad at Black Friday because no site has the camera I want on sale, and the one that did jacked their price up $30 from Monday. Maybe this is a sign I don’t need a fancy camera right now.