“Liz, I need you to go to Wal-Mart.”
What. WHAT? Wal-Mart? As in the mart in which I have sworn I will not step foot into for the next 10 years to end a career in working with children over the past decade each year in which I could not avoid weekly – sometimes biweekly – trips to the Wal-Mart to buy things, little things, big things, tax exempt things at always the worst time of the day?
No. NO. You don't understand. You don't know my pain. You don't know what it's like to walk into Wal-Mart with over a dozen lists from over a dozen staff that need things from all corners of the store. You've never stood there reading a list while shouting to yourself I don't know I DON'T KNOW what they mean by paper plates. Big plates or little plates white plates designer plates I don't know and I don't know how to decide! And after you finally decide knowing you have probably decided wrong and will have to again return to the store you realize you still 99 more items left to go.
So, that Wal-Mart?
At first he asked me to go on Sunday. He said we’d go early before all the crowds arrived. It would be a good time. It had to be a good time. I told him there is no good time at Wal-Mart. Go at 8 pm. Go at 2 pm. Go at 7 am. There is always a crowd. I dare you, go.
And honestly it’s not the crowds that scare me. It’s the cashiers. Prompting me to answer “was your cashier friendly today” on the credit card machine is always a good way to remind me – NO. NO! Were they friendly? What kind of friend scowls at you and acts like you are the problem – you for shopping there, you for walking into their line, you with your tax exempt letter and 50 boxes of crayons, 40 pieces of colored felt, 30 bottles of glue, 20 feet of ribbon, 10 containers of Dixie cups – you. YOU!
You could say I’m not really looking forward to going to the Wal-Mart. Not on Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon, Sunday night, or Monday morning. But put it off long enough and watch Chris trip one too many times of the makeshift Boss prison grotto in our kitchen and you get one unfriendly (have you considered a career in cashiering at Wal-Mart?) Chris commanding me to go to Wal-Mart (NOW) to buy new pet gates.
Monday morning, I pull myself away from mounds of work on the kitchen table, change out of the monkey pajama pants uniform, put on my arctic winter weather gear and brave the cold (cashiers, that is) to go to Wal-Mart.
May I start by saying any time you walk in the Wal-Mart and see that they have run out of shopping carts that is a bad sign. A very bad sign. A sign signifying you should leave and drive the other way. It’s between me and another woman and what she lacks in agility, youth, and nimbleness I actually possess, make my way to a cart, and victorious wheel it away.
Little did I know it had the gimpy wheel. The rear left wheel, moaning in pain and agony of please stop wheeling me around this store overloading me with your rollback deals, squirrely children, and bags of chips at a low low price.
Pet gates. If I was a pet gate where would I be. In the pet section of course. The store is a minefield of holiday shoppers, senior citizens, moms, and me. I finally make it over to the pet section wheeling up and down the aisles looking for the pet gates.
Time to distract, do something else. Find toothpaste, file separators, glass cleaner, lotion, and again back to the pet gates. I go back to the section and look up and down the aisles. Still no gates. At first I consider leaving the store without the gates. But then I considered that I still want to be married tomorrow. Then I blamed it on Chris. What makes him think Wal-Mart has pet gates? What? And why did I believe him? I was just in the PetsMart buying Boss a new collar and a new squeaky monkey so why didn’t I look there?
Because the man said Wal-Mart and I am following his command. So I stop. The rear wheel stops crying for a minute. And I think. Again, if I was a pet gate in Wal-Mart where would I be? Think harder.
In the baby section.
Yes, yes because people like to gate their children in! It’s not a pet gate, silly, it’s a child gate to keep the toddler from toddling into something dangerous or down the stairs. So I hightail it over to the baby section and look for baby gates. At first I didn’t see them and considered asking the parents in the section.
Hello I am looking for those gates serving the purpose of imprisoning your child in its bedroom while you go about your normal life. Do you know those gates I speak of? Maybe they heard me because there they were! Right there, lower shelf I find exactly two left. Two left? Must be a popular time of the year to imprison your child behind a wooden gate.
I choose two and my trip is complete. Now all that is left is….
This is where things could go wrong. Very wrong. Trust me, I’ve seen it before. You make it through the store in record time only to be trapped at the register by someone that insists the friendly cashier has overrung their All-Bran and hair-color-in-a-box. At this point you confirm once again that Wal-Mart is literally a black hole for time. We wonder where time goes and why it flies by so fast ask Wal-Mart because secretly they are harboring the freetime of unknowingly patrons that just went in for a few pet gates.
But, my friends, today - this is where I win.
You see, no more tax exempt letter. No more purchases for work. And so, I am free to go to the self checkout line. Brilliant. I am self checking out when I nearly get to the end, ready to pull the receipt and I have encountered a glitch in the system. The machine freezes.
I am not winning. I am waiting. And I wait. The woman behind me with her gum and red sweatshirt also waits. But not nearly as patiently. But what do I care. I’ve already conceded that this store will steal my time, my hope for a friendly world, and make me wait.
Apparently when you spend over $50 at the self checkout line they assume you are using someone else’s credit card to purchase things like toothpaste or glass cleaner or pet gates. All of the things I would rush out and buy if I had someone else’s credit card for sure.
I make it free from the store and return home to assemble the newly remodeled Boss prison grotto in the kitchen equipped with two pet gates now resting between the doors. And later that night Chris tripped on them. But I’ve decided I am not going back to that store. I’m not returning the gates and we will just have to make do. Because I have once again sworn off Wal-Mart for at least the next 10 years. If not for any reason other than I am reclaiming my freetime and sitting here friendly and smiling at myself.