The Parking Lot Pop-Up Exhibit

The impact of the pandemic goes well beyond the health crisis. You can see it in the price and availability in a growing number of items in the store. You can see it in the awkwardness of once commonplace routines like whether to shake hands or have an actual face-to-face meeting with someone. And yesterday, you could see it scattered throughout the parking lot of an orange home improvement store.

Committed as I was to spending the stack of gift cards on the latest project on the house, I’d foolishly arrived at the store on a Saturday morning thinking I might just get a lumber cart. It seems there is a distinct lack of lumber carts at this location, for as carts are damaged they aren’t repaired but retired permanently. And replacements are apparently hard to come by. So that left people wandering the parking lot like zombies in an apocalypse movie, looking in vain for the one or two lumber carts that might still be available.

Stubbornly creative in such moments, after two laps of the parking lot and one through the inside of the store, I decided to grab an orange shopping cart and use it instead. I wasn’t getting heavy lumber, I was getting PVC trim boards, I figured. Since weight wasn’t an issue, it was all about balance. And who’s more balanced than me?

Stacking eight foot PVC trim boards is a simple matter. Adding ten foot trim boards on top of those is also simple. I even positioned the boards in such a manner that the stickers were ready for easy scanning. Fitting them into a car was completely secondary, I’d achieved proper balance on the cart and glided effortlessly through the store. Lost souls still searching for lumber carts nodded in understanding. The laws of the jungle apply in adversity.

As you might have guessed, this masterpiece worked perfectly on the poured concrete floor of the big box store but didn’t pass muster when I started rolling across the parking lot. Vibration became the primary factor, creating instability, and the entire pile slid gently but uncontrollably forward and right off the cart. I’ve learned not to catch the sliding stack, for there is where injuries occur. I simply waited for the sculpture to speak to me. Luckily a father and son quietly joined me in putting the masterpiece back together again (quiet, but I knew what they were thinking – Wow, this guy is a genius!).

And then I got the stack to the small SUV and began the process of fitting all of this in. I enjoy a good puzzle now and then. But here is where I missed having a truck. I might get creative with a shopping cart in a store, but the public roads are a different story. Soon I was back in the store purchasing a saw to make it fit just so. You do what you must in this apocalyptic world.

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