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Therapy and sanity for ordinary parents of special kids.

Putting on a Happy Face at Wal-Mart

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.”

4 Responses to Putting on a Happy Face at Wal-Mart

  1. Joan Penrod January 3, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    I’m a Walmart shopper (because we’re retired and on a very limited budget) . I do agree that their prices are cheaper. Honestly, I have to psych myself for the trip. Once I’m in that really optimistic mood,, off I go. First place I head, after dodging and ducking, weaving and swerving, is to the Clearance aisle. (A lot of my Christmas and Birthday shopping is done there). I then proceed to straighten out almost the whole aisle looking for my treasures,Once that is accomplished, I take a deep breath and head out to the grocery section. Usually, I’m the only one going in that direction, and am looking at a sea of faces bearing down on me with looks of fierce determination. Now the fun really begins, carts, carts and more carts, most of the contain little kids screaming and crying. I really try to avoid the children pitching items out of the cart. Meanwhile, their Mommas are very busy on their cell phones, while standing in the middle of the aisle (with the cart sideways). I stand their patiently until the realize they’re blocking the entire aisle. While still chatting away, they move the cart (slightly) and look annoyed that I had the audacity to inconvenience them. By the time I reach the milk, eggs, juice, etc ., department,, which is at the back of the entire Super Walmart, I’m a little dizzy and confused, not to mention I’ve lost a couple of coupons along the way, as well as my shopping list, if I remembered to take it with me. I take a deep breath and gaze down to the front of the store, and I get ready for battle. Finally, I’m at the checkout counter. I usually grab a People’s magazine because I know I’ll be in the line (there are only 3 registers open for large orders) for a while. Ten minutes later, there is a rumble in our line. It appears that the person at the register’s credit card is not working or canceled. I’m now through perusing Peoples and pick-up Soap Opera Daily. Finally, it my turn and I place my Cloth Bags, I have 9 of them) on the counter. I smile at the cashier as she glares at my bags and mutters under her breath. because she hates the cloth bags (they have to be unfolded and placed in front of their precious plastic bags.) Usually there is no communication between myself and the cashier. At this point I’m fearing for my groceries as she continues to shove items in the bags until each bag weighs 50 lbs. Once I’ve paid the bill, I smile oh so sweetly and wish her a nice day (I love this) cause it means she has to reply nicely. Now I’m out in the parking lot looking frantically for my car. I’d been in Walmart so long I forgot where I parked. Pass the Wine. Patty and Gina, we’ve got to plan a shopping trip to Walmart when you come to Florida.

  2. Debbie Stephens January 3, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    LOLOL…my son always asks what items we are shopping ofr, then adds “you know we will get more than just that!!”

  3. Mary-Ann Hussey January 4, 2011 at 6:27 am #

    I lose brain cells every time I enter that place

  4. Kasey Hyde January 4, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    Too funny about the Pillow Pets. I had just told my MIL that I hadn’t seen them for less than $19.99. I laughed out loud.

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