Going to Wal-Mart is a necessary evil. They are the premier store for just about anything you would need. Underwear, got it. Dishes, 43 different sets await you. Denture cream? Aisle two. Frozen pizza?... head to grocery. There is a reason that one builds a super store and sells its products at rather reasonable prices. I don’t even know why a community builds anything other than a super Wal-Mart. The smaller stores do not carry anything. In one small community, to fill up counter space, they had rows and rows of Styrofoam coolers. Now unless there is a run on Salmon swimming upstream in Sometown, Georgia, I find it difficult to fathom the reasoning behind this. The smaller stores have a grocery, but they are terribly lacking in carrying the 10,000 brands of deodorant we have all grown accustom to sorting through.
Although I need to make purchases from Wal-Mart, I physically and emotionally dread going there. Just maneuvering a cart through 3,000 people for 10 hours is draining. Many stores have gone through a re-organization process so nothing is where it used to be, and it is rare, now, to find any two laid out the same way. If you frequent a couple of stores in neighboring towns you have to remember where items are in each store. The result is that you can spend literally hours or days wandering through the store trying to locate what you want. Are the cleaning products in with grocery in this store or in a separate section near gardening? Logically you will find pet products right next to wrapping paper and greeting cards. You can whip right from light bulbs directly into auto. The housewares department is four blocks long and did you know that nobody sells plastic butter dishes anymore? Shocking.
There is a method to the madness at Wal-Mart. As you wind from aisle to aisle you always see something you need, but didn’t know it before you left the house. There is no getting out of Wal-Mart for under $100. I go in for hair spray, a fan and a quart of soymilk. Those three alone come to $25. However, I leave with a garden hose, a watch, three new tops, two birthday gifts, two cards and wrapping paper, plums, nectarines and apples (I passed produce), a new toilet cleaner, two gallons of paint and an SD card for my camera. I passed up the clock radio because it would have pushed my total to over $200.
Now it is time to check out. Joy. Never mind that the store is laid out with 28 check out registers for clerks and eight kiosks for self check out. You will only find 4 registers open with a clerk and lines stretched back to baby goods, or lingerie if you’re lucky…then you can pick out some pj’s to sleep in while waiting to pay. You can actually find everything you need for the overnight check out at the store…. Futon, pillows, jammies, TV, movies and snacks. You can even get a magazine and read about “Ten Ways to Fix Your Hair.” If it’s an especially long wait, some stores have hair salons and nail techs so you aren’t wasting time. If you plan properly, you can get an eye check up and order new glasses in less than 40 minutes.
On one of my recent trips I got in an extremely short line, there were only two people ahead of me. I thought I had hit pay dirt, only six hours till I could leave. Wrong. The first person made it out relatively unscathed. The next lady was purchasing plastic storage bins with lids. Maybe I could get lucky and make it out in three. The woman in front of me decided the price was incorrect and now a store employee had to go check it out. I was thinking of heading over to shoes for a fresh pair of flip flops, but decided I needed to watch the spectacle in front of me. The woman’s grandson had a Dasani water and proceeded to pour part of it on the conveyer belt for store products. I just knew it would malfunction and I would be there for an overnight while we waited on a repair man. There is really no sense in switching lanes once you’ve unloaded. People always stare when you reload your cart. Finally the price was determined and the purchase was rung up. Now the lady had to count out every individual dollar for payment. When I made it to the register the clerk had the nerve to ask me which of my purchases was leaking. If I had actually put something from the frozen food department on the belt, wouldn’t it stand to reason it would thaw in 6 hours? I haven’t quite figured out why they don’t have microwaves at the checkout so that you can buy a dinner and prepare it for your family while you wait in line.
We really are blessed here in America…. We have lots of choices with thousands of breakfast cereals, a multitude of toothpaste options and cleansers for every imaginable stain. Actually I get quite overwhelmed with the choices and sometimes frequent much smaller store chains with fewer options with the hope of checking out in less than an hour. Don’t be offended if your gift came from the Dollar Store, it could be the difference between getting it on time versus two months late.
This next week I’m sure I’ll have a serious anxiety attack though, I have to make a couple of returns, where else but Wal-Mart? This is July; I should be back around Thanksgiving.