Sunday, August 16, 2009

'Lectronic Limbo

I pushed my shopping cart with its two boxes of cornflakes toward the checkout counters, only to discover that each line contained hordes provisioning as for a siege of the castle. Declaring (to myself) that I would rather starve than languish behind orders that had at minimum six cases of bottled water, I abandoned—without an ounce of guilt—the cart and cornflakes in front of a display of sweet gherkins. Guiltless, because I knew that before the day was through, those boxes of dry cereal would be back on their shelf standing shoulder-to-shoulder next to their mates raisin bran and shredded wheat, staring down the Maypo and instant oatmeal across Aisle 5.

In the car on the way home, I couldn’t help but think about the contents of shopping carts I had abandoned during e-commerce forays—for example, the camera that had to be placed in a cart in order to discover its price (alas, too dear) or the shoes whose steep shipping cost similarly was revealed to me only after my plucking the item off its electronic shelf. Are those size elevens still waiting for me to take them for a stroll, or did some ghostly hand remove the pixels from the electronic cart?

And then my thoughts segued to my abandoned email addresses: are they still waiting for me to click open their contents (assuming I could remember the passwords)? However, while I can summon up romantic images of a physical mailbox that I have moved away from holding, for a brief while before a melancholy return journey to the sender, a letter from a long-lost love or a dividend check from a forgotten investment, all I can imagine sitting in wait in the electronic boxes are several offers of fake Viagra.

I wonder if I have anything to eat for breakfast.

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