|Wal-Mart is my living hell from which I cannot escape. No other options exist for working moms on a budget. I’d love to live in Target, but let’s be honest. They’re expensive and don’t have the grocery or automobile selection. For my one stop shopping – Wal-Mart’s my destiny of torture.
I’m obsessed and downright pissed at the situation I find myself in, walking through the automatic doors to be greeted by someone who has a worse disposition than I. Daydreams invade as I maneuver through this nightmare. Looking at the endless rows of closed checkout lines, I imagine stumbling upon a lamp with a genie that resembles Gary Sinise. I’d give great thought to my wish. My initial response would involve lotion and lovin’ from this CSI look-alike. But I’ve got the world to consider. As clear as the phone ringing at Customer Service that has gone unanswered for five minutes, the answer arrives.
“Gary Genie. Genie Sinise.” I’m stumbling with excitement of the revelation and unadulterated lust. “I wish all the checkout lines at Super Wal-Marts would be open with cashiers who’re happy and efficient.”
“Well, Ms. Kathy, that’s a request I’ve not encountered. May I inquire, why?” His voice is even the husky, gentleness of Gary.
“It’s rather simple,” I attempt to sound humble. “The sight of this would make people in the world believe in miracles. And if we start believing miracles can happen, it’ll become reality. Possibly, even a world-wide effect. We may experience world peace!”
“Move it, Lady.” I’m shaken back to reality by a teenager pushing his way past in a game of Wal-Mart tag. It isn’t his fault; the aisles assume we are all a size two.
Another Wal-Mart moment comes to mind as I sit wondering where else I can buy notebook paper, earphones, pink construction paper, and bacterial soap in one stop – all items on our school’s supply list.
I had borrowed my grandfather’s truck to transport a washing machine for a friend. Just my luck, a tire blew. Wal-Mart was the only place I knew to be open. The eerie whispers beckoned, “Kathy! We’ve been missing you.”
I convinced myself Wal-Mart couldn’t be busy on a Sunday morning. Most God-fearing people were at church. However, I was going to tour hell.
“About 2 or 2 ½ hours.” The unshaven man with tobacco stained teeth didn’t bother to look at me. How had he gotten dirty when they were just opening? Perhaps, he slept in the outdoor living section. I witnessed that once. Had I owned a cell phone, I’d have snapped a picture of the blue-vested teenager drooling in a lawn chair with a Mountain Dew dangling from his hand. Mr. Walton, God rest his soul, might have been interested to see the employee ‘break room’.
“Two hours for one tire?”
“Or 2 ½.” My usual sarcasm began to spew, but I noticed the pin on his shirt. Sixteen Years of Service. My exasperation turned to empathy. This man worked in hell for 16 years.
“Take as long as you need.” His calloused hands scribbled information no one would look at. Similar to when you go to the doctor to have a mole removed, and they ask when your last menstrual cycle started.
My back ached when on my third hour of sitting, I noticed an elderly man attempting to maneuver a handicap cart. Tires were knocked over unnoticed. I restacked them since no one working seemed to care. The gentleman kept making a figure 8 between two aisles. He seemed to be looking for something, yet focusing on nothing. One patch of gray hair was plastered down, and his clothes were pristine. Shoes polished, clothes pressed, yet he looked disheveled. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was his mannerisms that created this impression.
“Harold, your wife, Edna, is waiting at Subway. Harold, Edna’s waiting at Subway.” The intercom voice was monotone and muffled.
I contemplated minding my own business, but I figured I would do my good deed.
“Sir, is your name Harold?” I bent close speaking with volume that I was sure he could hear even if I hadn’t picked his good ear.
“What? Yes. Do I know you?” Was his expression one of fright, confusion, both?
“No, but Edna's waiting for you at Subway.”
“Subway? Oklahoma ain’t got no Subway. Edna’s got the checkbook.”
“Subway’s a restaurant at the front of the store. Would you like me to take you?”
“I might could find it, but these dang aisles are small and all look the same. Do you know they wanted $5.97 for some damn push pins? Push pins for Christ’s sake!”
“It’s a crime, alright. Follow right behind me. The aisles aren’t big enough for us to walk side by side, ya know. I’ll take you to your wife.”
“Married sixty-two years and she ditches me in Wal-Mart. What do you make of that?”
I began to respond, when I was knocked to my knees. Turning, I was ready to teach someone a lesson in manners, when I realized it was Harold’s cart that had flattened me.
“Harold, stay a few feet behind me. Okay?” I limped hoping Edna hadn’t given up and decided to search for her sweetheart. We would be going in circles all day.
The scent of fresh bread reassured me we were close. Turning the corner, I spied the sweetest thing sitting with her purse in her lap, tapping her toe to music no one else heard.
“Harold, there’s Edna.”
I bent to explain the situation to Edna when I felt a pinch on my backside.
“There’s a cushion I wouldn’t mind exploring with a push pin if you get my drift, Missy.”
“Harold!” I looked at Edna for backup. She smiled and nodded.
“No good deed goes unpunished, Dear.” She stood, grabbing the handle of Harold’s cart for balance.
I laughed. “Don’t kid yourself. This is the best Wal-Mart experience I’ve ever had.”
Word Count - 992