I avoid Walmart for the usual reasons some folks do. Yesterday, I had to choose between going to Walmart for three items, or driving ten extra miles round-trip to Target. I gritted my teeth and went to Walmart. I only needed three things, and I recited them over and over as a mantra: picture frame, Swiffers, ice cream. Picture frame, Swiffers, ice cream. Get in, get out.
The parking lot should have been a tip that things were not going to go well. On Thursday afternoon it was packed. I parked half a mile away, and hiked across steaming asphalt. Once inside, all the other reasons I avoid Walmart slammed me upside the head.
Apparently, I am in the minority: hordes of people love Walmart, and they were all there yesterday. I don’t handle crowds well. Actually, to be more precise, I don’t handle throngs of people milling about, vacantly starring at aisle after aisle of stuff while I try to get my three things and get the hell out of there well.
Don’t ask me why, but I got a cart. You just do. I’m absolutely convinced that the greeter hypnotizes you with her eyes when you walk in, forcing you to take a cart, even if you only want THREE things. I maneuvered the cart without incident to the picture frame aisle. Some impulse that I can’t explain compelled me to load up three collage frames instead of the one, single frame I needed.
I resisted the urge to plow the cart over a woman much more voluptuous than me. She was browsing lingerie, and appeared to be running a block pattern to keep me from cutting through on the way to household cleaning supplies, which was a mile away on the other side of the store. I dodged grannies, small children, and what appeared to be a family of zombies doing some sort of tandem shopping.
Five of them, obviously brothers and sisters from their similar coloring and features, walked single file through the store in lockstep. The tallest one led the group. They never spoke, and they focused on the sibling in front of them. I don’t know what the guy in front was focused on, but it was serious. Occasionally, one would reach out and pick something off a shelf, never missing a stride. They didn’t have carts, and may have been operating covertly to avoid detection.
After what seemed a long journey through foreign lands, I arrived in household supplies. I had to plan my maneuver carefully, and jockey for position with three hundred fifty other folks who wanted Comet, Windex, or Pledge. I grabbed the Swiffers, then remembered I needed toilet bowl cleaner refills. They were on the other end of the aisle. I fell in behind the zombies as they parted the crowd.
They needed Scrubbing Bubbles toilet refills, too. Hmm…they were near picture frames when they first passed me. They came by the Swiffers and stopped at toilet refills, which I had nearly forgotten. Would they be stopping by ice cream? What else might they need that I was also out of? At the very least, walking behind them made navigating easier. I rode their wake out of household cleaners.
The next stop was dairy. Huh. I needed yogurt, so I snagged a few Yoplaits and jumped back in line. I wasn’t good at picking up things while keeping in step, but I jumped back in quickly.
On our tour through Walmart, I filled my cart with a cornucopia of things I had no idea I needed. We did parade down the ice cream aisle, and I picked up my low-fat vanilla Edy’s gourmet. The zombies didn’t get ice cream. Somehow, they must have known I needed it.
As the zombie line headed towards the register, I reached out and scored a bottle of Merlot that I felt sure I was going to need if I ever escaped Walmart. Had I a cork screw, I would have opened it and drank it in line at the register.
The zombies checked out with the same efficiency they had shopped. Each in turn placed their items at the checkout, then moved to the other side and waited in line while the tall one paid. I waved and smiled as they marched out if the store. “Bye, y’all,” I called.
The shortest one glanced over her shoulder and looked at me as if I was a nut. Of course, she had a point.
I’ve decided to do all my shopping online from now on.