Fear and Loathing in Walmart

Been awhile since I posted last.  Family, work, and playoffs have prevented that.  Such is life.  Finally, on a family vacation to Florida, I have blog fodder.  How did we get to Florida?  Go to Jenn’s blog where she’s documenting the trip.

 

After arriving at the house and taking care of the essentials, Diet Coke for the girls and beer for me, it was time for the pool.  We had been cooped up in a car and hotel rooms for the past two days, nothing sounded better than diving in.  Great plan…except for that whole “eating for sustenance” thing.  The bag of pretzels left over from the trip wasn’t going to last long.  Someone was going to have to go to the store.  Unfortunately, that particular someone was heavily involved in watching the Blackhawks-Scum game (and not bitching about the game starting at 7pm CDT while being in a different time zone…I’m looking at you, Detroit).  So after the game was over, I was off to the store.

Side note: way to be a bunch of whining babies, Detroit.  I know three brothers who are fans of three different Western Conference teams.  These three brothers live in Ireland and England and don’t bitch about “the games start too late for us”.  They adjust their sleep schedules, like true hockey fans.  And this is why we Chicagoans like the Irish, because they adapt and overcome.  As opposed to crying until they get their way…like the French (obligatory American stereotyping).  Which reminds me: “Detroit” is French for “outhouse”.  /rant

Where was I?  Oh yes.  I headed off for the closest grocery store, which happened to be closed.  Not all that surprising considering it was 11pm.  Crap.  Check the phone to see what’s open 24/7 and that dreaded name pops up, “Walmart Supercenter”.  Now, I’ve been to the Walmart near my house plenty of times on late-night trips.  Admittedly, there’s some interesting characters to be seen there, but nothing that truly makes my head spin.  So how bad could a Walmart near Walt Disney World be?  As bad as a trip to Las Vegas with Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo.

Now, for those of you who haven’t been to Walmart, this site can give you an idea of the worst of it.  Mind you, it’s not all that terrible most of the time.  I prefer to support mom ‘n pop stores when I can, but a family on a budget shops where they can get the most for their coin.  Which leads to folks like in the above link.  I personally have seen a family of five (father, mother, son, daughter, baby) all decked out in Realtree camouflage from head to toe.  Only exception was the baby’s diaper, and that’s probably because they couldn’t find Pampers in that pattern.  Great place for people watching (and if you want to feel better about yourself), not so great if you’re looking to get your shopping done and get out. That is, unless you go at night like I normally do.  Then you’re only dodging other folks like yourself and the employees who are restocking shelves.  Everyone is trying to be efficient and get something accomplished, which gives me a warm and fuzzy.  So, again I asked myself, how bad can this be?

11:20pm, I entered the store, grabbed a cart, and began the process of figuring out where everything on my list could be found.  No two Walmarts are laid out the same way, so there’s a bit of “where the fuck is the mustard in this place?” to deal with.  No big deal, get the layout, and start working my way through the aisles.  I expected a few strange folk, but nothing like this place.  You see, I forgot that EVERYONE comes to Disney World.  From all over the world.  I expected Florida rednecks, instead I ran into every accent under the sun, and very few of them were speaking English.  Okay, no worries.  I’ve been a few places in the world, I can handle people from other countries.  Right.  Somehow, I forgot that Americans have the largest “personal space” of any country.  Oops.  So my bubble’s being infringed upon, no one knows where to find anything, and the employees restocking shelves have placed their pallets in the dead-nuts center of the already narrow aisles.  This is very ungood.

A note about me:  I am very aware of the concepts of pickpocketing, mugging, and “this would be a great place for a terrorist action”.  So when my bubble gets smaller, I get antsy. Add in people who are meandering down aisles, blocking egress, and I-can’t-find-where-the-fuck-these-assholes-are-hiding-the-cheese-that-they’ve-clearly-stocked-because-I-see-a-metric shit-ton-of-empty-cartons-right-fucking-OVER-THERE….well, that’s when my Agent Orange starts acting up.

I manage to find everything on my list, it’s time to get the fuck outta Dodge.  Head over to the checkout lines….and I realize that it is midnight.  They are closing down registers.  To include self-checkout. Are you shitting me?  This is a bad decision on the level of anything the Republican Party has done in the past 10 years.  I can’t even wrap my head around why in the hell anyone would think this is a good idea.  So lines are backing up, I find a short one and jump in.  “Sir, I’m closed.”  What?  “It’s the end of my shift.”  Clock overtime, then.  I just want out of this zoo.  So I find another line. Five people ahead of me.  Okay, they have full carts, but this won’t be long, right?  Right?

Fuck me running, I stood in line for 45 minutes.

I finally get to place my stuff on the conveyor, approximately 20 minutes after I started considering going back to the beer cooler and just pounding beers to pass the time.  As I’m placing items on the conveyor, the screen above the register (the one that they use to convince you to buy more shit you don’t need) shows me NHL Network’s Best Goals.  I shit you negative.  This trip has just entered “we’re in a fucking reptile zoo” levels of surreal.

Finally, I’m checking out, and the cashier, Jerry, makes eye contact with me.  Oh fuck….he’s going to start a conversation.  Sure enough, he mumbles something.  Being a mumbler myself, I do the polite thing and say “excuse me?”.  He repeats himself, “Do you ever wonder why some people do the things they do?”

Are you kidding me?  In this place?  Holy shit, Jerry, I’ve been wondering that since I entered this ratfuck an hour and a half ago.

But, being polite, I reply, “Yeah, but I try not to wonder too much with some folks.  No point in making myself crazy trying to understand them.”

He seizes his opportunity. “The girl who took over when I was on my break, she refilled all the plastic bags here, but when I got back there was a bunch of them in the trash.  Being an environmentalist, that bothers me.  And you know, wasting things like that is in the Bible.  In Revelations……”

JESUS H. STOP-DANCING CHRIST, I HAVE HIT THE TRIFECTA OF WHAT-THE-FUCK-FLORIDA! AN END-OF-TIMES BIBLE-THUMPING ENVIRONMENTALIST!

Now…it took everything in me to suppress my smart ass urges.  I could have told Jerry to stuff his hippie bullshit and proselytizing before I bellowed for his manager (hell, it’s Walmart.  I’d be far from the weirdest person in the joint), and ring up my shit like his job description says.  I could have mentioned to him that I am an ordained minister (thank you, Universal Life Church) and started firing back with my own apocalyptic rants.  I could have simply laid a “Hail Satan” on his ass as I walked away.  No, I just simply got the hell outta there.  Because sometimes, it’s just not worth it.  Walked out to the car, loaded my purchases in, and drove back to the house so we could eat.

Today, my wife tells me that my mother-in-law will want to run to the store when she gets into town tonight.  Think I’ll take her to meet my friend Jerry.  Might as well have an audience for the next trip.

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