Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Perils of Walmart Shopping

I ran to walmart last night to grab a few essentials. That was my first mistake.
My daughter and I went to the cash register and, since I was at Wal-Mart, only two registers were open. There were 3 employees at the empty Customer Service desk, of course. But two cashiers in the whole goddamn place.
So we went past the regular checkout and it was packed with people whose carts were similarly packed. I had about 15 items, so I went to the 20 Items or Fewer register (well, that's what it should be titled, but "proper grammer" and "Wal-Mart" don't often go together). This happened to be the only register where one can buy tobacco and baby formula. For that reason, this is the lane that many people have to go to, but idiots like me who just have fewer than 20 items get in it too.
Our cashier had disheveled hair, red eyes, and spoke in a mumbly voice that nobody was able to understand the first time. My first thought was, "Holy crap, this dude is drunk as fuck."
The lady at the front of our line was a tall blonde who looked far too clean and affluent to be at a Wal-Mart. We'll call her Buffy. Behind her was a miniature hispanic lady. I assume she was hispanic because she responded once to a comment with what sound like something my friends learned in high school Spanish class. Day Nada? Right. Okay, so we'll call her Maria. Then there was me, and a few minutes later someone appeared in line behind me but I didn't turn around to see who it was.

Buffy was buying one thing, with a $10 off coupon. That's a damn good coupon, you get it girl! And put the money you saved right into your IRA. Cashier Dude couldn't figure it out, so he had to call over a manager. Somehow he ran the coupon incorrectly. Manager came over and fixed it, with some trouble. The woman checking out apologized to us twice while waiting. The hispanic lady in front of me just smiled and made a noncommittal noise, seemingly perplexed as to what the fuck was happening, while I reassured Buffy that she was just fine, no worries. Because I didn't know that her delay was the first in a long line of delays that would make me want to stab my own brain through the ear with a clearance fork. 
Meanwhile, Maria only had diapers and wipes on the belt. Since the belt was mostly empty, I emptied my cart onto the back. This would prove to be my second mistake: now I was stuck in this aisle, unless I took everything off the belt and put it back in my cart.
Right as Drunk Cashier was about to start ringing up the lady in front of me, I became aware of a commotion behind us. A beautiful, tall black woman in her 30s at most asked if she could hop in front of me, because "Otherwise he's going to wreck the store." I turned to see that she was referring to a a white man in his thirties who appeared to have a cognitive issue, and who was drinking a can of pepsi from an opened carton in the cart. Based on their ethnic differences and what happened next, I assume she was his nurse or caregiver in some capacity. We'll call her Hellooo, Nurse. "Please, go right ahead," I said. Hellooo Nurse looked so disheveled that I wanted to help her or hug her or buy her a whole jug of wine with a straw.
She squeezed ahead of me and threw a few items on the register, informing the man that since he opened the soda, she would be paying for it with his money instead of hers. She got out his money bag and had him pay Drunk Cashier for the stuff he'd opened, gesturing to it in her cart behind me. Drunk Cashier rung him up, and then she threw her other few items on the belt to be paid for on her own card. Meanwhile the gentleman with her was yelling loudly, asking her questions, and causing a commotion. She patiently answered his repeated questions, which seemed to be in some kind of code that only she and he understood. "Whatime?" he would yell, and she would say "Wednesday." This would repeat a dozen times before he switched to "Wedsday?" and she'd reply "That's today."

Both myself and Maria smiled encouragingly at Hellooo Nurse, who clearly had her hands full but was rocking it. When she apologized to us, I told her she was doing a great job. She thanked me as she blew her hair out of her eyes and dropped her wallet, dropping change everywhere. My daughter helped her pick it up while I moved my cart behind hers so she could access her stuff and get out of there easier.
As Hellooo Nurse was gathering her bags back into her cart, Maria stepped up to have her items rung up. They were still on the belt. Drunk Cashier said, "Oh no, I already rang those up on your card." What? Whaa- how had he rung up those items if he hadn't scanned them? Apparently he'd seen her gesturing to her cart and instead thought she had also been intending to pay for Maria's 3 items, which he'd somehow rung up. There was a whole mess of confusion, resulting in another manager coming over and having to negate payments and re-ring various items. The people in the customer service department just nonchalantly looked over at us, chatting away to each other with their zero customers, while I did my best to wish diarrhea on all of them for being so goddamn useless. Hellooo Nurse again apologized. The non-English-speaking woman just looked terrified. My daughter sighed. 
Finally it was our turn to go. Drunk Cashier rang us up, and two of the items rang up differently than they had been marked in the aisle, so i had him remove them from my receipt. He apologized profusely... for the one thing all night that hadn't been his fault. I got the impression by his manner of speech that perhaps he wasn't drunk or on drugs (though I've never really been around drugs to know how they make you behave), perhaps he was struggling with the same type of mental competency issues like Hellooo Nurse's charge. I'm still perplexed as to why a national superstore would place this man at the busiest register in the store, without keeping a manager nearby. He was clearly struggling and causing more problems than he was solving. It seemed to be the equivalent of me giving my 9 year old daughter the job of driving my car so that I could sit in the passenger seat and control the radio instead. Sure, it'd make her feel good, but it'll be basically suicide for all of us. 
We got out of there, and on our way out, the Bath Fitter dude stopped us. If you've never heard of Bath Fitter, they come out to your moldy-ass nasty bath tub and put a new bath tub shell over it, so you can appear to have cleaned your tub once in awhile while ignoring the inevitable stench wafting up from between the layers.  But fine, Bath Fitter guy. I'll call him Raspy due to his obvious habit of smoking since he was a fetus. Raspy was in his 40s or 50s and wearing a leather jacket with a button-up shirt underneath, which was unbuttoned down to his navel. He called out to us and, exhausted, I politely declined - "It looks nice, but we can't make changes because we're renting." All true. All my attempt to get the fuck out of there without talking to this obviously pushy guy. 
But Raspy took my rental explanation as cause to run out and stop us. He placed himself in front of my cart and said that he'd give me a 10% off coupon for when we buy a house. Sure, dude. I'm going to buy a house with a bathroom so unsightly and unkempt that I have to refinish it with your bullshit solution. I understand that this is Walmart, but you're aiming too high here, bro. Either way, I wanted to leave. So I decided the quickest way to get out of there was to take the free 10% Off coupon. But to get that goddamn coupon, he said I had to sign up on a contact card. Fucking fine.

I wrote down my previous address which no longer forwards my mail, and my "cell phone number" which was a conglomeration of my parents' landline and some other random numbers thrown in. Raspy read my name from the card and jumped into full Salesman mode. And he was doing the hard sell. "Becky, if you see here, this does this" and "Becky, if you get your landlord to meet with my lady that'll call you, this and this and this will happen." Becky, did you know that Bath Fitter does kitchen cabinets too? Look at this --" Then he started quizzing me about how close my landlord was to us, what my landlord's gender was, and asking for my landlord's phone number.

I didn't have the heart to tell him that my landlord was a serious control-freak of a bitch who had paid extra to have my house's kitchen done by a custom cabinet dude from Amish country, and who had nearly had a bowel-exploding stroke one time when a magnet fell off from one of the cupboard doors. He continued on for well over ten minutes, not pausing long enough for me to interrupt. He finally asked a question, probably something like "Do you hate yourself enough to refinish your entire bathroom with a veneer bathtub?" and I saw my chance to speak.

"I need to get my daughter home to bed," I said, yanking my child's head sideways against my hip in faux maternal affection, while mentally channeling the phrase "Pretend to be tired, you little fucker, I want to leave!" He said he understood and went through another 3 minute speil detailing exactly how they'd get in touch with us (they'll call me, I GOT IT DUDE), how great my daughter was behaving (You should see what I'm holding back from doing to you, Raspy), and asking her if she did well in school (Better than you, bro.). I backed away and said goodnight, and he kept talking as we walked away. "Have a good night!" I shouted, shuddering from the pushiness and frustration of everything.
My daughter quizzed me later in the car. "What on earth was that about?" I explained her how I was just being polite, and how stupid it was to be indirect, and how indirectness can get you caught up into sitiations like that. What better life lesson on how dangerous indirectness is than being street-harassed by some dude who works on commission. 
So. I'd like to conclude this story by saying that Pennsylvania needs to update their shittyass liquor laws, because I definitely needed a drink after that, and that entire thing would've been so much better if I'd been able to pop open a bag of wine with a twisty straw and slurp my way to oblivion. 

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