1. Costco

Had to see what all the fuss was about. Walked around the store in a state of awe trying free samples (chocolate blueberries, kids’ vitamins, three rounds of grapes), putting things in my cart, and asking myself important questions like, “Can Doug and I even go through twenty apples before they rot?” And, “Where are we going to store such a large box of Sun Chips?” But in the end I realized I couldn’t check-out without purchasing a membership. So I simply abandoned my full cart, walked briskly out of the store, and never returned. Still totally worth it for the free samples.

2. Star Trek Museum

Ventured with Doug to Riverside, Iowa—home of a tiny main street lined with boarded-up storefronts and future birthplace of Captain Kirk. We checked out their free Star Trek museum (one room filled with Star Trek memorabilia). The man working there got very excited when we entered, saying we were the only visitors who had come in days. He talked to us extensively about Star Trek. Turns out the show never named Riverside, just said that Captain Kirk was from a small town in Iowa. So the mayor of Riverside called the producers and begged their permission to allow Riverside to proclaim themselves the birthplace until eventually they said “fine.” He told us about how William Shatner came to Riverside for a week to film a science fiction movie, only to reveal later that it was all a hoax and he was actually filming a reality show about backwards life in small-town Iowa. We eventually crept out of the museum with promises to return for Trek Fest on the last Saturday in June.

3. Riverside Casino

After the Star Trek museum we went to have lunch at the only other attraction in Riverside: the casino. I was interested to see what it was like, as I haven’t been in a casino since years ago when my family took a trip to Las Vegas and my dad made us walk in and out of about sixty of them, ignoring my complaints about a broken ankle as I limped along. The Riverside casino was filled with tall, flat fountains of running water and a constant, low-level hum in place of music. The ambience was so dizzying that I could feel myself falling into a hypnotic trance even as I tried to choose a desert from the lunch buffet. After lunch I wanted to gamble but I was anxious because I didn’t know how to do it and didn’t know if it required some kind of special tokens like at Chuck E. Cheese. So I asked an employee what I needed and he laughed at me and said “money,” so I went to a slot machine and put in my money and kept pressing random buttons until all of it was gone.

4. Fancy nursing home

My part-time job sends me to various hospitals and nursing homes to assess certain patients. I was sent to this particular nursing home last weekend and was sitting at the nurse’s station going through my patient’s file when an elderly resident in a wheelchair started slowly wheeling toward me saying that she needed something. I was the only person at the nurse’s station and I tried to explain to her that I didn’t really work there but I was sure someone would be back soon. But she kept wheeling toward me, saying “I need something…. I’m not sure what… I need something… I’m not sure what…” until eventually she was behind the counter with me.

“Uh,” I said, frantically looking around for a nurse, but none were in sight. “I don’t think you are supposed to be back here. I think this is just for staff. Would you mind backing up?” But she just looked right through me and started singing Amazing Grace.

When the song was over I tried again. “I don’t think you’re supposed to—”

But then she started chanting: “Chad… Chad… Chad… Chad… Chad…” getting increasingly louder, louder, and louder until I closed my file, gathered my belongings, and decided to call it a day.