With T minus 12 hours until our departure for Yosemite, Emily and I had packed exactly nothing. Between the two of us we had the following: one sleeping bag, one survival kit my dad assembled for me the last time I got stranded in the woods at night, and one pink Swiss Army knife equipped with a nail file, mini perfume bottle, tweezers, wine opener, hand mirror, and needle and thread. I shit you not.
Are these items needed in case of emergency? It depends. If lost, we could use the mirror to signal rescue aircraft overhead. Perhaps even catch a fish with the thread, then fillet it with the nail file. And when the rangers inevitably come across our near starving, exhausted bodies – neither of us would have anything less than perfectly tweezed eyebrows. What can I say? It was a gift. [Though not from my dad the Eagle Scout.]
With the hours ticking down, we scavenged our friends’ basements locating a cooler and a second sleeping bag – and hitting REI to for the rest. In typical last minute fashion, we scored the last three man tent in San Francisco about 15 minutes before the store closed. I feel for the man behind us in line. I do. Especially after he had to listen to the conversation we had with the REI guy at the counter. Here is a snippet.
REI GUY: [Standing at the register, looking confused by the two mini flashlights I had picked out, then glancing at the two of us.] “No one uses flashlights anymore. Everyone uses headlamps now.”
EM:[Looks at me. Says nothing. Finally she answers.] “I think we are OK.”
REI Guy: “They’re only like $10 more.”
ME: [Deducing that Emily is not having it.] “You just don’t want to wear a light around your head do you?”
EM: “Damn straight I don’t!”
REI Guy: [Stunned. Looks as if slapped. Continues.] “Most people wear them. I mean, I guess everyone does… except for those who have nice hair.”
So we settled on buying the headlamps. But not without further embarrassment on our part.
ME: [In all seriousness.] “Do they come with, like, batteries?”
REI Guy: “Yes, but you have to actually open the light and put them in.”
ME: [Turning to Emily and asking] “Is he mocking me? I think he is mocking me.” [Then I hand over the undergarments I was forced to purchase in lieu of doing laundry.]
REI Guy: Laughs. Then rings me up in silence.
Dude behind us:[Jaw dropped. In state of sheer disbelief that REI would rent us a tent over him. He may still be standing there.]
I am pretty sure we have been flagged by the REI staff as problem shoppers. I would not be surprised if they use our story in future training videos for staff about how to deal with difficult customers. ‘These are not paid actors, but real life idiots.’
Now armed with sleeping bags, a tent, cute new workout clothes and Emily’s iPhone – we were ready to brave the outdoors.