I Am Gary, Your Bed, Bath & Beyond Sherpa

(Published on McSweeney's Internet Tendency, 2014)

First, I congratulate you for taking this Journey on a Saturday. Weekends can make for a rough climate here. Your action takes great courage.

This store has secrets, yes, but it keeps none from me. I know the trail that runs along the Soda Stream. I know the merits of silicone ice cube trays. I know the shortcut—through the bedspreads section and under a bath caddy—into the Beyond.

Once we start, we will move swiftly, like a Roomba. We will not stray from the path to browse area rugs or to debate the best candle scent. We will not test mattresses or feel Egyptian cotton. Instead, we will keep our eyes on the prize and our shopping list in hand. Until the Journey is complete, we will avoid the checkout aisle, where children grow sick and loud from candy. We will not wonder why the store stocks so much candy—we will simply accept that it does.

Our belongings will stay light, for I am creative with a mini trashcan. Though our impulse may say otherwise, we will not help any frantic housewife, college student, or confused newlywed couple. We will not share water or Luna bars from our purses or fanny packs. And, if we face a challenge, we will not be fearful—I am trained in the Cuisinart of War.

At times, you may panic. This is normal. Know that out-of-stock items often cause nausea, but rarely death. I suggest that you think of this not as your last trip, but as your first of many. Do not worry about getting the right type of spatula. Failure is part of the process—one learns with each new return.

Remember, this is not all a struggle. Consider the beautiful towel rainbow display, or the humbling height of Swiffer refills stack. Enjoy strange flora near the outdoor furniture area. If we encounter the elusive Diaper Genie, send a Snapchat to the rest of world.

Now, judging from your coupons, it is time. You are ready. Take a deep breath, grab my curtain rod, and hold on tight.