Yesterday we were the assholes you see in Walmart. When in Rome, right?
It all started innocently enough. We needed trashbags. We only go to Walmart to buy staples, like dried foodstuff, papergoods, shampoo, socks and underwear...you know, the staples of life. We have no interest in wandering around - we go in with a set list, and get out as quickly as possible.
We walked in the doors together, and decided to walk in a loop around the store hitting each department as needed. First stop, shoes - to look for cleats for Lucy, who is starting soccer on Wednesday. No cleats.
On to sporting goods, then. "They must have soccer stuff there," I tell myself as I wander towards the back of the store, sort of dazed by the flourescent lights and screaming children that surround me and assault my senses. But before we could get to sporting goods, we had to walk by the toy department. "Daddy" Lucy pleaded, "there is something I have to see down there."
Because "daddy" is a total pussy and cannot say no to his little darling when she asks so sweetly, "daddy" headed down the aisle we refer to as "the pink aisle" which is filled with Barbie and My Little Pony and princesses and baby dolls and wands and glitter and costumes and fabulousness. And then, because "daddy" is such a pussy and couldn't say no, I had to agree to walk with Max down the Lego/foam weapon aisle. It was only fair, I decided. Fair to whom is yet to be determined.
After comparing the differerent Nerf options ("this one has a belt full of darts, and it shoots really fast just like a machine gun, but this one shoots further and these darts don't have suction cups at the end - they are JUST LIKE REAL BULLETS" - which, shockingly, is not a selling point for me) and debating the merits of expanding his Lego supply to include the Atlantis collection, we finally made it out of toys and on to sporting goods. I am on a mission - we still need soccer balls, and shin guards. But apparently not from Walmart. Because they didn't have any. Soccer is not a Walmart-sanctioned sport, apparently.
Fishing and hunting, on the other hand....... It took a few minutes to talk Max out of a flare gun but eventually we moved on to the grocery section for onion soup mix. Sam amused himself showing me things like jars of "nut butter".
"Go get the trash bags, would you?" I ask in my nicest possible voice, which at this point was not very nice. Max was asking for wasabi Mayonnaise. Lucy wanted donuts. I just wanted to get the damn soup mix.
But no. Not at Walmart. No soccer stuff, no onion soup mix.
Walmart, you are starting to really piss me off.
I ditch the carriage and head over to get cough syrup for Lucy. On the way, I grab egg noodles and a bag of Halloween candy. Because Walmart may not have any soccer gear, or onion soup mix, but they have had Halloween candy out since August, those bastards.
OK, cough syrup. I have to choose the right formula. No, not for runny nose and cough. No, not for stuffy nose and cough. No, not an expectorant. No fever. No pain. I need a cough suppressant. I just want her to stop coughing all night long so we can sleep for a few minutes at a stretch. As I am trying to find what I need, a stock-clerk is hovering behind me, reaching over my shoulder to put things on the shelf. But every time she would try to put something inside one of those spring-loaded dispensers (the kind that pushes shelf stock forward every time an item is taken off the shelf) the box or bottle would come shooting back out - and usually hit me in the face. I finally gave her THAT LOOK - the one that said "Lady, if you do not stop fucking around with the merchandise while I am shopping, I am going to shove your head through that blood pressure cuff over there."
She eventually decided to go restock some other product off of her enormous cart of Shit to Put on Shelves. It's not like she ONLY had cough medicine to put away - that woman had a huge trolly full of pharmeceuticals, rubber products, health and beauty aids, and personal care items. She did not need to focus on the 2 feet of shelf where I was actively shopping.
No she did not.
I find the right box, and stand up to look for the rest of the crew. Max is faking passes with a bag of Doritos on the floor art they have laid out between two displays of chips, that looks like a football field. Sam has just arrived from the garbage bag section - emptyhanded. They only have boxes of 12 bags, and the boxes of 12 garbage bags are $10. I am clutching the bottle of cough syrup, Lucy is begging for a new Barbie, Max is still tossing bags of chips around, and there is a huge crowd just STANDING THERE in the middle of the aisle.
I say excuse me about 5 times, but no one is listening to me or maybe they don't speak English which was entirely possible as they seemed to be an extended family of migrant farm workers who were definitely not speaking English to each other. So I wedge myself around them and walk up to Sam, who is eyeing the bag of candy with interest.
"I want some Doritos" Max announces. "No." I say. (See how easy that is, to say no? This is why I am the bad cop and Sam is the pussy.)
We head to our last stop, the jewelry section. Lucy is hanging off my arm, asking for a belly ring to wear as an earring, except that sucker was a 10 guage and I don't even think her earlobe is that big. "No, sweetie" I say (SEE HOW EASY?) and go back to my browsing. Behind me, Sam and Max have begun wrestling. I shout "Knock it off you two" as I slowly spin a rack, looking for a small set of hoops, when suddenly Max shrieks. I look over and he is clutching his face. Sam looks stricken. "What the fuck did you just do?" I hiss as I bend down to examine Max, who is silently sobbing into Sam's chest.
"Uh." Sam says.
"WHAT? What just happened? HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU TO KNOCK IT OFF?"
"Um." Sam says.
Max is still crying silently, and clutching his face. There isn't any blood, so I leave him be and turn back to Sam, who is now totally on the hook for whatever the fuck just happened, and then pretty much everything else that has been pissing me off in this godforsaken hellhole of a retail establishment.
"What. Did. You. DO."
"I kneed him in the face."
"I kneed him in the face. He kicked my leg really hard and I kneed him in the face."
"Are you fucking kidding me? ARE YOU 12 YEARS OLD?
"I didn't do it on purpose!" Sam protested mildly. "He kicked me hard, and then went to do it again and I raised my leg to block him and-"
"He kicked you in the LEG so you KNEED HIM IN THE FACE? IN WALMART?"
"Well, yes." He has the decency to look a little embarrassed, but he's still smirking.
I am livid. I turn to my injured child with a proposition.
"Max, I tell you what. As soon as you can see straight, I think that you should have a chance to kick your father right in the nuts. I mean, he doesn't need them anymore, and they are lower then his face, so I think that is the best course of action."
Max suddenly stops crying. Sami turns pale.
"Yes," I continue "Right here in the Walmart jewelry department. Perfect spot. Plenty of space right here, and they just finished piercing that poor baby's ears, so I say you just go right ahead and settle this. Hit for a hit."
Sam backs up. Max wipes his face.
My phone rings.
"Hi dear" says my mother, from Rhode Island. "Sorry to bother you with a non-urgent issue, but I need help changing my facebook profile photo."
"Um." I say. I check the clock. It's 10:15pm in Rhode Island on a Sunday night.
"I just can't get it to work, and you did it the last time."
"Um" I say. Sam senses an opportunity, and grabs the kids and heads for the registers.
One hour in Walmart yielded a bottle of cough syrup, 2 bags of egg noodles, a pound of Halloween candy, and - somehow - a pink Etch-a-Sketch that was put on the belt while I coached my mom through her Facebook applications.
People of Walmart indeed.
8 hours ago