Jenntertainment's Weblog

Adventures in children's theatre.

Supercenter Adventure January 26, 2012

Filed under: Jenn-eral — jenntertainment @ 9:25 am
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Recently, I went to Wal-Mart because I needed to feel better about myself. This practice may seem cruel and unusual to some, but it does the trick almost every time. Whenever I’m feeling down, I just take a brief, three-hour trip to my closest Super Center and I walk out feeling like a million bucks.
Putting me inside of a Wal-Mart and asking me not to judge my fellow shoppers is like putting a fish in a bowl of water and asking it not to swim. For a long time I have made rude and stereotypical assumptions about the super-mega-mart’s average clientele. After all, watching people grocery shop in bulk is like watching my fellow brethren select a lifestyle menu option. A cart full of Hostess Twinkies and RC-Cola says to me “I think I’ll have the Type II Diabetes Special, please.” Three gallons of Boon’s Farm table wine with eight packages of hot dogs and the shopper practically screams “give me a renal failure to go, and make it snappy!”
My imagination runs wild on each trip, wondering what will happen once the child in front of me finally chews through his leash. By the end of each visit, my knuckles are white from all of the cart-dodging, and I’m ready for a really long shower. (Maybe your Wal-Mart is spic-and-span, but mine has a certain derelict quality equal to truck stops.)
I’ve learned to park about three miles away from the entrance, in hopes that I will avoid any shopping-cart-vs.-my-car accidents. Whenever faced with a choice between a good spot near a renegade shopping cart, or a place in the North 40 with nary a cart in sight, I will always choose the cart desert. Since I work in a shopping center with a popular grocery store, I figure it is only a matter of time before my precious baby Toyota is defeated by a stray buggy. Through tactical parking, I plan on delaying the inevitable as long as possible.
Once I finally reached the front entrance, I was told by the greeter (speaking through a tube) that they were out of shopping carts and that I had to walk to the parking lot to get one. While I was keenly aware of the irony, I was none too pleased. I came for a confidence boost, not cardio.
Cart in tow, I was finally able to begin my shopping adventure. The people were astonishing, as usual. There was the teenage boy in overalls and no shirt, the old man on the scooter, the woman with 18 children, the old man on the scooter, the lady with curlers in her hair eating from the produce section like it was a buffet, the old man on the scooter…wait. Why was this guy always in front of me?
I could not get around this geezer in the power chair. Every time I turned down a new aisle, he would cut in front of me, zooming along at the speed of smell. By the fourth time, I began quickly diverting my cart and running down the next aisle, hoping to head him off at the pass. But when I reached the end, there he was, tootling away ahead of me yet again.
If I reached for something, he rolled in front of me. If I changed direction, his chair would pirouette and magically appear on my other side. Soon, I developed a strategy of reaching for unneeded items just to lure him in the wrong direction. No matter my tactic, he was always in the lead.
After doing a few deep breathing exercises, I was able to control my irrational anger at this chair-bound senior. It was clear that he needed the same things out of Wal-Mart that I did; the chance to feel superior to everyone else. Even though he was old and mottled, he was wearing a very snappy hat and clearly enjoying every moment of torturing me. I eventually lost him on the feminine products aisle, where I could finally focus on the task at hand. Judgment.
As I roamed the aisles, I imagined myself having all sorts of awkward-yet-life-changing conversations with my fellow shoppers. I wondered if it would be appropriate for me to tell a distracted mother that her son had just put a package of Jell-O in his pants. I also wondered if that man in the socks and sandals was really planning on using all fifteen gallons of that mayonnaise, or if he was just trying to set a world record for making the largest vat of potato salad in the county. I wondered how long that old guy’s electric scooter battery would last, and what would happen when it finally died.
My imagination could only entertain me for so long. With my ego sufficiently bolstered and my cart sufficiently filled, I headed for the checkout line and then began my long trek back across the parking lot. You’ll never guess who was parked right next to me in his motorized wheelchair.
Okay, you probably guessed. What you might not have guessed was that he wasn’t finished with this business of torturing me. With a sardonic twinkle in his eye, he asked me to please drive his scooter back into the store. Obviously, he couldn’t be expected to do it because then he would have to walk all the way back to his car. Don’t ask me why an elderly man chose to park so far away or how he got to the scooter in the first place, because the truth is, I really don’t know.
What I do know is that I looked like a complete jackass driving that thing across the parking lot at a top speed of three miles per hour. As I puttered past the other shoppers, I could feel their eyes glaring at me, judging me. What was I, a young, obviously able-bodied yuppie doing driving a Wal-Mart power chair while they are clearly reserved for the elderly and infirmed? Each red neck craned in my direction, while I held up the flow of pick-up trucks and old Coupe de Villes waiting to find parking spaces of their own. Their fiery stares made my face turn bright red, like the brake lights on my scooter.
“Ma’am,” said the greeter through his tube, “these are not for recreational use.”
“I know, I was just returning it for…for my…for the elderly man who…yes, sir,” I sputtered.
Humiliated. At Wal-Mart. By an old man in a hat.
As The Good Book says, “judge not lest ye be judged.” Maybe next time I’m feeling low I’ll just stay home and watch some reality TV.


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