Big Box Blues

I don’t get it. The boy – my son – likes big box stores and, conversely, his father – me – is a nice person.

Okay, the boy is a nice person, too. It’s just that his father can’t understand his affection for American-owned retail outlets that have all the charm and warmth of a riding mower shipping crate.

It’s not that I haven’t been inside big box stores. I have. And, all too often, I spent wayyy more time in them than I would have liked. That’s because I expected – mistakenly – to quickly walk in and out with a pair of underpants or socks or a 50-pound bag of Doritos. But, instead, I ended up lost on my way back to an exit that was located in a different time zone – or solar system. I can’t be sure. It was awfully difficult to see what lurked past those 40-foot shelves of Corn Flakes and toilet plungers.

Asking for assistance- desperate tear-filled cries of help, actually – from a sales pers…(sorry: sales ASSOCIATE) always seemed futile.

ME: Please, sir. Can you direct me to the portal that leads to sunlight, air and my F-150 in your giant parking lot?

ASSOCIATE: That’s not my section. And I’m on break. And Angry Birds on my phone is wayyy more interesting to me right now.

ME: Might you, then, use that phone’s GPS to guide me safely to the exit?

ASSOCIATE: You’ll have to buy your own. We sell in them in aisle 5945. But first stop at aisle 5944. To have your passport stamped.

There is talk of one of these monolithic cargo-holds-of-stuff-for-sale, finally, coming to my town. Its inevitable arrival has been looming the way that mosquito buzzing around your bedroom is eventually going to land on you and leave a pitching mound of itch on your forehead. Frankly, I don’t think we need it. But, then again, I’ve never “needed” 744 tubes of toothpaste shrink-wrapped tight enough to serve as life raft.

I’m quite happy to patronize the smaller independently-run stores, which provide everything I need – despite, admittedly, being sometimes slightly more expensive than those sold in their massive counterparts. Still, that’s a small price for extra personal service.

ME: Hi Eric. Do these pants comes in a 36-inch waste?

Eric: Absolutely. But before I head to the stock room to find them, you and I are first required to discuss the finer points of last night’s Jays’s game and how that may influence the play of both your sons whom, I know, are 15 and 16-years-old.

Me: He’s actually going to be 17 three weeks.

Eric: Three weeks and four days, to be precise.

The boy is very close to obtaining his driver’s license. That he prefers driving our car as opposed to our pick-up truck gives me comfort. It means he’s less likely to go shopping for 50-pound bags of Doritos or 744 tubes of toothpaste.

By Denis Grignon

Denis Grignon is a professional standup comedian and writer. He shares this space with his teenage son, Yannick. More information on Denis at

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