…anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I have an absolute love-hate relationship with my local Wal-M*rt. They absolutely love getting my money and I absolutely hate them for taking so much of it. Alas, aside from being an obsessive-compulsive creature of habit, I’m also someone who values being able to get everything I need in one stop, drive home, and unload it in one trip from the car. (This last bit, about one trip from the car, is actually a habit I formed while living in a flat on the second floor. Given that, for half the year it’s raining, I was loath to brave the rain more than once. So I alway choose plastic and tote in all of the bags I’ve purchased in one trip. I have even devised a way to keep from squashing the bread.)
But today, I go to the Wally World, park in the lot full of cars, and begin shopping. I have to buy a new DVD player, as the old one is going kaput, and dinner for tonight. I want to fix a friend a special dinner for her graduation and then watch movies. I wander over to Electronics, and immediately find two stacks of players. One is the off-brand Apex, the other, one I’ve never heard of. Both are within pennies of the other. My previous player is an Apex. And considering it still works, just has a few glitches, I decide to be brand-loyal, even though the Emerson player is only ten dollars more. Into the buggy w/ the box. Now onto dinner.
I wander up and down every isle at least twice, picking up in the process a pork tenderloin, a squash, zucchini, a pound of strawberries, cool whip…and it’s at the cool whip that I realize the plentiful land in which we live. There is, in your typical super-sized store, fifty brands of chocolate, one-hundred and fifty kinds of breakfast cereal, a full-service deli, five brands of milk, seventeen varieties of butter, and six lines of bread. (Try the fresh baguettes. Primo.)
The only problem is I can’t find anything. Not a goddamned thing.
It took me twenty minutes to find the tenderloin, stacked in a pyramid between two rows of hamburger product. The zucchini and squash were easy enough, except whoever stocked the zucchini didn’t know the difference between that and the half-a-dozen cuccumbers thrown into the mix. Strawberries were in the most logical place: between endives and spinach. The baguettes were on the same shelf as the doughnuts. And now I’m off to find Redi-Whip. I chuckle to myself for a moment, at the thought of finding an isle full of half-baked teen punks, soaking up the CFC-free cans of Redi-Whip as they kill a few more brain cells. But I can’t find the Redi-Whip.
My mother, when I was young and would lose something, would always say “If you were __, where would you be?” If I were a condom, I’d be unused, collecting dust in the dresser drawer, for example. So I try my mom’s trick and say aloud, “If I were Redi-Whip, where would I be?”
Miraculously, a voice from the heavens chimes down. “I would be by the ice cream.” So I go. It’s not there. It’s also not in the food isles. Nor is it near the milk. No where can I find it. Also, and more oddly, is the surprising lack of the one thing that *used to be* plentiful in Wal-M&rt: Blue-smocked people.
I would be happy with someone in smock. Anyone. Charles Manson could walk up in a smock at this moment and, as long as he can tell me where the Redi-Whip is, I don’t give a rats ass what he carves into my forehead. As I turn the corner and drop a pound of Cool-Whip into my buggy, I remark to the lady beside me–who is equally befuddled and looking for Kumquats–”I remember when people actually worked in Wal-M4rt.
I never found the Redi-Whip, but I knew where she could find Kumquats. After taking her to them and showing her the boxes right below the endives, I go to check out. I stroll right up and the whole thing takes less than a minute and a half.
Driving home a few minutes later, I realized where all the Redi-Whip had gone. Somewhere, in Wally World’s store rooms, are a bunch of happy, delirious smurf-clad teenyboppers and about two hundred empty cans of Redi-Whip.