It’s an American tradition. Now right up there with baseball, apple pie, and reality TV shows featuring stupid people behaving badly. It’s Walmart, the retailing giant. The place where hundreds of thousands of people flock to “Save Money and Live Better.” And though I’ve been known to shop there (it’s my husband’s favorite place), I’m just not buying any of it. For me, shopping at Walmart is not making me live better. It’s adding to my stress level, which as the crazed mother of two special needs children, I need about as much as I need a Ronco Food Dehydrater.
Just the other day, I decided to stop there to pick up a replacement curtain rod. My husband, who knows the store better than our home, was happy to hear about my decision.
“Can I come, Gene? Can I? Huh? Huh?
“No offense, Mike, but I want to make this a quick trip, and if you had your way we’d end up vacationing there. I’m just buying one thing and one thing only — a curtain rod.”
“OK, but I gotta warn you. They’re turning it into a Super Walmart. You know a Walmart on steroids. We can buy everything we need there, milk, bread, lettuce, etc.”
If he said they would be selling wine, I might have been impressed, but the thought of dealing with a double-size Walmart sent my blood pressure surging.
“Love ya, Mike. Gotta run! Bye!” I yelled racing out the door before he could catch up with me.
On the way out, I passed my neighbor, and stopped to say hello.
“Hey Gene, where ya goin’?”
“Oh, hey Juli. I’m just headed to Walmart.”
“You’re goin’ to Wal-Mart now? Without me?”
“Do you want to come?” I politely asked, knowing that my plan for a quick trip had gone to Hell in a handbasket.
“Gene, why are you going now. It’s too light out. You’re supposed to go late at night. That way no one sees you buying cute clothes.”
“Well Juli, as much as I’d love to hit Wal-Mart After Dark with you; I have a curtain rod to buy, and I need it now.”
When I arrived inside, I was handed a smiling sticker from a woman who frowned at me. See I knew I wasn’t the only one who hated Walmart, I thought to myself.
I bypassed her and barreled around the corner, heading down the narrow aisles, which reminded me of my bowling days.
I had just reached Health and Beauty when I sideswiped a mother and her seventeen young children in a cart with a big red seating section. The cart was clearly too big for the store and I wasn’t even sure it was registered with the store.
“Sorry,” I said, knowing clearly that she was the one at fault, but not wanting to spend time filling out in-store traffic reports or give her time to be discovered by a personal injury attorney who was probably setting up shop next door in pet care.
My head started to pound and I continued on my way, barely slowing down to pick up a lifesize bottle of Excedrin for just $6.99. With the sign for Domestics up ahead, I raced on until I flew by a display advertising Pillow Pets for $14.99. I abruptly stopped the cart, causing a three-cart pile up behind me, and raced over to drop one into my cart. (I had never seen them cheaper than $19.99) At Domestics, I picked up a curtain road, along with a new soap dish, three hand towels, and a new trash barrel for my bathroom.
A half hour later, I set out to the registers, where I raced to the shortest line, all the while getting dirty looks from the people around me. When it was my turn, the cashier turned to me and said, “Ma’am I can’t take you. This is the 25 item or less line and your cart is full.”