How I spent a birthday alone

Bermuda, 2009.

I arrive downtown a little after 3pm, I buy a square of pizza and a can of soda for lunch, as it is always hot around here. Since I had three hours until the movie, I decided to go to the hardware store to buy a fan. When I got there, the one I wanted was no longer part of the inventory, I would have to take note of the models that they did have and do some research. Perhaps the larger hardware store outside of town sold fans, so I walked the 2 mile round-trip, only to find their selection was even poorer. The one I wanted was a compact and powerful fan, such that I could carry it back on the bus. The large box (and even some desktop) fans are too cumbersome, and possibly not allowed on the bus.

I went to the country’s only public library to return the first two trade paperbacks of Vertigo’s Preacher, and to borrow the next few volumes. This time I got #3-6. If I finish them this week, I will go back for #7-9 and the Watchmen TPB to bring with me on the next research cruise next week. I also had to shop for some groceries, but since the store closes at 10pm, I could go after the movie, which meant I wouldn’t have refrigerated items in my backpack throughout the movie.

Still time to go before the movie, so I check electronic stores for a USB headset for voice chats. The older microphone I brought gives off too much feedback and echoing. None have a decent model, and the ones they do have in stock start at $60, no thanks. I wonder how the local Apple reseller, called iStore, sells stuff. Apple products are already more expensive than their competitors (on average). Here, it is even worse. The 32GB iPod Touch sells for $399 in the US (back in 2009), here it is $599. That’s a 50% markup (partially due to import taxes). All iTunes gift cards have a 10% markup for the same reason (meaning the cheapest $15 gift card will cost you $16.50), so I suppose the only people who would ever buy them are those without a debit/credit card.

At 5:30pm, I get to the movie theater, as I like to be there early. As I approach the ticket booth, I am told that the movie has been rescheduled for 7:30pm. I already spent $4 in bus fare to get here, so I may as well wait around. It wouldn’t be worth another $4 in bus fare to come back tomorrow (its final day in theaters). This means the movie would end around 9:30pm. Let me explain how that complicates things.

If the movie had started on time at 6pm, it would end around 8pm. I could do my grocery shopping and make it to the bus stop by 8:45pm, the next bus on the schedule, which is hourly at the 45-minute mark. The rescheduling places the end of the movie around 9:30pm, not enough time to shop and get on the 9:45pm bus, leaving me to wait until the 10:45pm bus. If I do my shopping now, the food will be sitting in the hot and humid Bermuda climate for an extra two hours before I get back to my apartment, not a promising thought. I know what I want to buy, so perhaps I can rush and still make the 9:45 bus.

I go to the waterfront and sit there for an hour. I listen to some Australian radio podcasts on the mp3 player and begin reading Preacher volume 3 to pass the time. Around 7pm, I get back to the cinema, take a seat and continue reading for 20 minutes, and the movie starts late anyway. The movie is decent enough, though Julia Child’s voice was never the most pleasant, especially for long periods of time. I jog to the grocery store, and I can see the bus pulling away from the station (it’s 1/2 block from the grocery store), so I would have missed it even if I skipped the shopping. Now I have only 15 minutes before the grocery store closes, but I manage to get the essentials, including my birthday dinner of a pre-made sandwich and a pie.

As I am bagging my own groceries into my backpack, I pause to pay the cashier, at which time a bagboy jumps in and finishes the packing (not a great job either, this kid must suck at Tetris), so I have to “tip” him 50 cents. I was saving those quarters for laundry. At 50 cents a bag, these kids/students often make more money than the adult cashiers. On the way out of the store, my earbud cable snags onto the locking clip on the sliding doors and rips off the earbuds, so now I have to get another pair of earbuds and I can’t listen to my mp3 player on the 45+ minute bus ride back.

At the bus stop, I now have a 40-something minute wait for the bus, so I continue reading Preacher Vol 3. A lady sits next to me, sees the name, and starts talking to me about God-given talents. I have to put away the book before I get to any of the rated-R sections in the book, of which there are many. Since the earbuds were separated from the cable, I couldn’t wear them to pretend I am busy, so she keeps talking about gifts and her 7 kids, repeating herself many times, for 30 minutes. Somewhere in there she asks what part of the Philippines I am from and says that she knows someone who lived there for a while. Finally, another local woman sits on the bench, so my inquisitor turns to her. When my bus finally arrives, the lady says goodbye and leaves. She wasn’t even waiting for a bus!

I get back to the apartment, put the food in the refrigerator, and finish off 1 liter of fruit punch I had saved, as the only things I drank in the past 14 hours was the milk in my breakfast cereal and the can of Fanta. I load up Serenity on the laptop and take my first bite of my birthday sandwich at 11:35pm, just before the end of the day. By the time I finish it, it’s too late to start on the pie.

Maybe I’ll just stay in next year. See the rest of the day’s photos on Flickr.

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