I live in West San Jose. It is a safe neighborhood, with a school at the end of the block. I like it here, with its quiet, well-maintained streets and houses, though it isn’t my ideal location. It doesn’t have the charm of our previous downtown Mountain View neighborhood, the area we hope someday to return, though it does have our most important criteria in a neighborhood, specifically, that we could afford a home here. It is also, as the real estate flyers confirm, “conveniently located.”
I am a career mom, and by that I don’t mean a person who is a mom and has a career. I mean that being a mom is my career. I prefer that term to stay at home mom because the “stay at home” part is my least favorite part of the job. In fact, the one key benefit to being a career mom is that I get to leave the house whenever it is convenient for me and my employees kids to do so. Real jobs – and by that I mean those with real paychecks – have many benefits, including healthcare, a 401K plan, and paid vacation, but my job has the benefit of being able to go to the grocery store or the mall whenever I feel like it.
And, as it turns out, one of the primary functions of my job as Director of Household Operations (as I’ve titled myself on Linked In) is feeding my family. And that requires many trips to the grocery store, so being conveniently located near several Safeway, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s, is quite, well, convenient. And although I am a big fan of online shopping, there are times when I find myself needing to go to the mall, so it is nice that Valley Fair is so conveniently located, just 1.6 miles from my house.
As I mentioned, I can go shopping pretty much any time I want to, and I know that it is generally best to go when everyone else is at their aforementioned real jobs, allowing me to drive those 1.6 miles, pull into whatever parking spot I choose, pop my toddler in her stroller, and be on my way to Pottery Barn and a soft pretzel in about 10 minutes. But this past weekend, I wanted to go with the whole family, including my husband who has one of those real jobs, bringing in the real paycheck that allows me to buy things for our family. In this case, I wanted to buy my son, who has some sensory processing issues, a crash pad, someplace he can sit and read books, and also literally crash into when he feels the need. I wanted something bigger than a typical bean bag chair and thought of the mall store with the comfortable furniture and oddly suggestive name, Love Sac.
So on Saturday around 2 p.m., the four of us got into the car and headed toward the mall. We got about two tenths of a mile before hitting an awful traffic jam at the Winchester Blvd. off ramp, a traffic signal that seems completely unseen by about half of the exiting drivers and the timing of which confounds me. By the time we rounded the corner onto Winchester we could see that the traffic was not just exiting freeway traffic, but extended past the movies and Santana Row, probably just a mile, but one that took us at least 15 minutes to get through.
The mall was no better, and after rounding the parking lot a few times, now a good 25 minutes into our trip, we decided to abort our mission. I suppose the first really rainy weekend of the season drove the entire area to the mall or the movies, and I guess I don’t blame them. But oh, it was frustrating, and now I had two kids in the car who were expecting to do something. So I took a lesson from the days when I did have a job and employees to appease. We turned around and drove straight to Psycho Donuts, where we could leave our frustrations behind with sugar and bubble wrap.