Sunday, October 9, 2011

The One About the "Thing" About Walmart

A friend of mine is getting married in a couple weeks and her shower is later this afternoon. She is registered at Walmart. Most people I know don't have a problem with Walmart. I, on the other hand, have this "thing" about Walmart. It's an undocumented medical condition. Some people have diabetes or high blood pressure...and I have this "thing" about Walmart.

I'm not sure when I first started showing symptoms, but with each episode the symptoms are at least ten times worse than the prior occurence. The treatment is actually quite simple. In fact, much more simple than treating diabetes or high blood pressure. I don't have to take any pills or inject myself with insulin. I just need to stay the [blank] away from Walmart. On most days, that's pretty easy...until you find out your friend's bridal registry is there.

The shower invitation arrived about two weeks ago so I've had ample time to work myself into a snit about the whole affair. I actually checked my blood pressure the other day and it was 125/77. My BP is rarely over 110/70-ish! I have seriously been obsessing about this for 14 solid days. I even begged asked Zack to go for me. He said no. He's concerned that this "thing" could be hereditary (like diabetes or high blood pressure) and doesn't want to risk it. I don't blame him.

When I got out of bed this morning, I realized that I had pretty much procrastinated as much as possible so I went to Walmart's website to check things out. Logging into the gift registry was pretty easy, I'll give them that. Up popped my friend's name with a link to her list of wanted items. The first on the list--a folding lug wrench. Honest to God. That's when I felt the first twinge. In hindsight, I should have said to hell with the registry and gone to Target to purchase a nice picture frame or candlesticks. Why I didn't will remain one of the great unsolved mysteries of 2011.

I called Randy to discuss the requested items and eventually settled on 20" electric griddle. That's when I noticed that Walmart now offers a "pick up today" service. I could purchase the item online and then pick it up at customer service within 4 hours thus minimizing the time I would have to spend in the store. The other benefit is that the item is immediately marked off the registry as "purchased" so I wouldn't run the risk of getting to Walmart only to find out that someone else had already snagged the griddle. I like it. So I made the purchase and patiently waited for the text message alerting me that the item was ready. I fussed about the house, ran a load of laundry, did a little work on the eight Christmas socks I'm knittng for a client (see? this really is about knitting) and then the text message arrived.

The drive to Walmart was uneventful. I ignored numerous signs indicating yard sales because I knew that the slightest distraction from my goal could end up with a Walmart employee wondering why a dusty griddle has been on the pick up shelf for the past 3 years. Focus. Breathe. Drive.

The parking lot. Breathe. I had to park about a 1/4 mile away from the store. Dodging pedestrians and abandoned carts, I found a suitable spot. I gathered my wits about me, said a little prayer and left the sanctuary of my car.

Eye contact at Walmart only exaserbates the symptoms. My first eye contact encounter was with a young teen who was walking to the car with his father. I was navigating a straight line to the door and this teenager, for no apparent reason, stepped directly into my path. He was deathly skinny, pallid and pimply, wore a plaid baseball cap cocked to one side, oversized jacket, chains, super dark blue jeans (I will give him credit for wearing them above his ass), and monsterous orange and lime green tennis shoes. Seriously, New Kids on the Block called and said that the Back Street Boys want their silly clothes back. I glared and stepped aside only slightly changing my trajectory, the entrance was still in sight.

When I got inside, I paused. It wasn't that wasn't that good either, but maybe I could suck it up and hurry to the back of the store to see if they had any Iams Naturals dog food in stock. Kroger doesn't carry the large bags and I'll be darned if I'm going to pay $12.59 for a small bag of the only dog food on the planet that doesn't give my dog gas. I was totally out of Iams. Poor Sophie had been eating the Rachel Rae brand and Zack and I were suffering the consequences. (Don't breathe.) Realizing that I could kill two birds with one stone, I ventured deeper into the store. Directly in my path were two people in white lab coats standing at a table display and offering free blood pressure screening. Hell. No. I quickly diverted before they had a chance to make eye contact. I'm sure had they strapped a BP cuff on my arm I would have ended up in the ER with a BP reading of 220/175. Focus. Breathe.

Trying not to gawk at the horrendous wardrobe decisions of my fellow Walmart shoppers, I reached the dog food aisle with minimal conflict. I didn't think to get a cart as I walked in the store, so I hoisted the bag ($17.97) under my arm, balancing it on my hip and proceeded to the front of the store to pay for my purchase. I arrived at the express checkout just as the cashier made eye contact with me and sauntered away. She didn't turn her light off, nor did she offer any explanation. I moved over three registers (because even though the parking lot is at maximum capacity, Walmart only has 4 open check out lines). As I was setting down the dog food bag, the express cashier sauntered back to her register and motioned that she could now ring up my purchase. So, I moved back over three registers and paid for the dog food. Knowing that carrying an un-bagged item out of the store would surely get me stopped, I made sure my receipt was handy so I could show proof of payment.

With the dog food under my arm, I proceeded the few steps to customer service and got in line. It was mayhem. Only one person was actually working even though there were three perfectly good customer service stations at the counter. But I guess the other employee who was wandering aimlessly back and forth behind the girl who was doing time working couldn't see the other two stations because they were covered with returned crap. Who returns flour? and soup? I waited. The first trickle of sweat occurred when a woman and her two young children started feeding bags of loose change into the coin counter machine. The children didn't fully understand the process and started screaming as mommy dumped all the shiny money into the hopper. When the woman in front of me finished her transaction, which took an inordinate amount of time because she swore she had the receipts yet couldn't produce them, I retrieved my order confirmation and got my driver's license handy. I stepped up to the counter and politely announced, "I'm here to pick up an online order." Pause. The cashier decided it was time to shift the returned sacks of flour and cans of soup. She looked at me with full eye contact and told me that pickups were at the back of the store. I pointed to my confirmation that clearly indicated that I pick up my item at CUSTOMER SERVICE and told her what was stated on said confirmation. She continued to shuffle flour and soup. Through clenched teeth I spat, "I. Hate. Walmart.", snatched up the dog food, spun around and proceeded to trudge to the back of the store. Deja Vu.

That's when the full force of the "thing" I have about Walmart hit me. My hands started to shake, and I'm pretty sure I was panting too. Then I started to sweat. It was a drenching panic sweat. By the time I reached the back of the store (again) I was soaking wet. This is the worst "thing" I have ever had. I kept muttering my mantra, "I hate Walmart", under my breath as I located the online pickup customer service desk. I was third in line.

I really couldn't tell who was was currently being helped so I just stood there and willed myself to quit sweating. It didn't work, and my stress over the panic sweat seemed to be making it worse. Distraction might help, so I studied my fellow Walmart shoppers. The man directly in front of me was trying to figure out how to get a pack of diapers, diaper bag, diaper pail, wipes and an entire freaking CRIB in his cart. Had I not been worried about leaving a sweat puddle on the floor I probably would have been more amused by his unsuccessful grasp of spacial relationships. The woman in front of crib guy was looking through recently developed photographs with her boyfriend, Sasquatch. They had 8 envelopes of photos and she was only going to pay for the photographs she wanted. Oh joy. As they stood at the counter, perused and discussed their photos and as dude with the crib tried to rearrange his cart one more time, the cashier at the CUSTOMER SERVICE desk didn't have the notion to wait on the soaking wet woman holding a large bag of dog food.

Girl friend and sasquatch finally decided upon 15 photographs...out of all the 8 envelopes. The cashier was stumped. She couldn't figure out how to ring up just 15 photographs so she had to call for help. More sweating. My hair was getting wet. Once the photo order was totalled, girl friend and sasquatch had to dig through their pockets for enough change to pay for the photos. Crib guy was still rearranging his cart as the photographers left, and I looked at him expectantly like, "it's your turn dude, chop chop!" Come to find out he had already been helped, he just hadn't relinquished his place in line. I sidestepped the cart and two large crib boxes and announced, for the second time, that I was here to pick up an online order. The employee who had come to rescue earlier took my name and disappeared through the double doors. The cashier asked for my name and I said, "Lannan. L-A-N-N-A-N." From years of experience I know that I need to spell my name for people so they don't replace the last A with an O. She looked at me quizzically and asked, "Is that your first name?" Hmm. I haven't been asked that one before. "No, it's my last name. L - A - N - N - A - N." Five times. That's how many times I had to spell my LAST name for her. Breathe. Wipe away the sweat. The final time was nothing short of a growl. L.........A...........N...........N...........A...........N. I even scared myself. The employee who disappeared through the double doors reappeared...empty handed. "No, we don't have anything back there, what are you picking up?" Again, I wiped at the sweat rolling down my face, pointed to the now rather damp and crumpled confirmation and told him it was a griddle I had ordered just this morning. "Oh, a pick-up-today. That's in a different location." I nearly lost control of all bodily functions and then he walked back through the double doors. Wait. He wasn't telling me that I needed to go to another location, he was the one who needed to go to a different location. Breathe. The cashier finally entered my name correctly and was able to print my receipt. I signed for the item as it was bagged and handed to me.

With both receipts in one hand, car keys in the other (with my thumb already on the unlock button), and dog food and griddle under each arm, I made my way back to the front of the store making sure to totally bypass the free BP screening table. As much as I tried not to make eye contact, I did notice that I got several questioning looks. Seriously,I was soaking wet with sweat stains under my arms and down my back, my bangs were stuck to my forehead, and sweat was rolling down my face and arms. Had I been the one monitoring the security cameras for Walmart at that particular moment, I would have been watching me very closely. I got to the exit without being approached by Walmart security and presented my two folded up, very wet receipts to the woman guarding the door. She took them, didn't unfold them and only glanced at the back of first receipt. She handed them back and motioned for me to proceed out the door. Really? This is how a couple successfully walked out of a Walmart last week with a $500 computer, which they didn't pay for, in their cart. The authorities called it theft. I call it stupidity and carelessness on Walmart's part. Be that as it may...I made it. I nearly broke into a run., but the dog food was weighing me down. Once I was in the sanctuary of my car, I turned the A/C on full blast and waited for the panting, shaking and sweating to subside. I was a complete mess. All this for a stinking bag of dog food and an electric griddle.

After a glass of wine, another shower, and fresh (dry) clothes, I proceeded to my friend's party. She received a lot of nice gifts to go with the griddle--coffee maker, vacuum, dishes and a folding lug wrench.


Christina said...

I'm exhausted! I have the 'thing' too. You're brave.

Liana said...

She's back!!!! I'm sorry you had such a trying time at "the store". You are much braver than I. I would have just looked at the items chosen on the website, then proceeded to either Target, Ace Hardware or even Walgreens and bought something similar, or not!
Glad it was a success.

smelk-o-matic said...

HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA - make it stop!! Hilarious.

Jake feels the same exact way about Wal-Mart. He can't take it.