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Rated: ASR · Essay · Personal · #1526879
A midnight trip to Wal-Mart takes a scary turn
Working night shifts results in strange habits--like grocery shopping in the middle of the night.

I was out of paper towels, milk, cereal, coffee, and feminine products--all staples in my house, so I hopped in my car and headed to Wal Mart. During the drive, a cat hair (I have three--cats, not hairs) worked its way into my eye; by the time I pulled into the parking lot at midnight it was driving me crazy. I needed to find a bathroom to extract the offending fiber before I could even think of doing any shopping!

I watched the bathroom cleaner guy place a CAUTION:Wet Floor sign outside one bathroom before going inside to clean the other. I stepped carefully over the CAUTION sign, determinedly leaned as close to the mirror as I could, plucked the fluffy filament from my peep, and stared at it in disgust. Humph! I thought. Take that! I tossed the strand aside and took the opportunity to check my makeup. I leaned in closer. God, my eyes are bloodshot! I look like I've been toking on a bong with Tommy Chong! This thought made me smile, then chuckle, and it was then that I noticed movement behind me. It was a man! He glanced at me briefly, continued on his way, walked into a stall, and proceeded to unzip his pants and urinate!

The flush started immediately (no pun intended). It crept up my neck and into my cheeks. My heart started to race, my legs to shake, and it felt as if someone was whisking my guts into a frothy goo. Oh my God, I'm in the men's room!

I turned tail, grabbed my cart, and acted as if nothing happened, all the while rehearsing what I'd say if anyone approached me: Um, of course I knew it was the men's room, but I saw him (the bathroom cleaner guy again) finish cleaning it so I knew it was empty, and since he was cleaning the women's ... oh, I had something in my eye. It was an emergency! 

I grabbed two gallons of 2% and quickly looked over my shoulder to make sure no one was following me. I rounded the corner with skill that would make Jeff Gordon proud (Was that the sound of my cart tires screeching?), threw a can of Folgers in my cart, and sped off. One more look over my shoulder ... No one yet, and I made it safely to the paper towels. If I have to, I can toss this roll of Viva at their feet as they try to cuff me. They'll be piled up like cord wood while I make my escape!

As I threw a pack of Kotex in the cart I imagined how embarrassing it would be to see my picture in the paper, tackled in the tampon aisle. UGH! Cereal, cereal ... ah, screw it! Would Kyle rather have Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys or a mother to tuck him in every night? If his mom's doing hard time, who's gonna make sure he gets to driver's ed?

"Are you finding everything you're looking for, ma'am?" I turned to see a Wal Mart employee looking at me ... and he was  smiling! He knows!

"I'm fine, thank you."

I made my way to the checkout stand before the long arm of the law could reach out and grab me by the short hairs. I paid for my items and high-tailed it out of there. One last glance over my shoulder ... Oh my God! He's following me!

A Wal Mart employee was just a few steps behind me. I walked faster, threw my bags into the back seat, and started my car just as he reached me and tapped on my window.

This is it. I'm going down. How will I ever be able to look my mother in the eye again? I rolled down my window and sighed, resigned to accept my fate.

"You forgot this," he said, holding up a gallon of 2%.

*Originally written as a blog post on 9-16-07.
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