I have an acquaintance who is constantly sick or has some type of injury going on at all times. You name it and she has either had it, broken it or is perilously trying to get her hands on it. She is what I like to call a professional sick person. Her ongoing drama with herself exceeds the normal capacity range for what the allowable amount is for drama queens in the professional sickness category. I've often thought of buying her a book to help her with her already exploding career in the sickness field.
I volunteer to clean her house, free of charge, on a weekly basis. I have no idea why I do this, except for the fact that I know if I don't do it, no one else will and she will crumple and die into a fetal heap of dark morass on one of her self-loathing days. Her daily lists are always the same:
Before each visit, I have to pump myself up like one of those karate people do before they have to break a pile of bricks with their bare hands. Yesterday, she whimpered into the phone for me to swing by Wal-Mart and pick up a few things for her before going to clean her house.
I am not sure about your town, but my town is infested with Wal-Marts, like fleas or taxes. They are everywhere only you can't get rid of them, ever.
I decided to stop at a Wal-Mart that I don't normally frequent, closer to her side of town. Fortunately, it wasn't "Wear Your Slippers or Pajama Pants to Wal-Mart Day." I walked in the door and walked straight to the only shopping cart that had water dripping off of it. I hesitated before touching it and decided with great thought, much like that of a cat, that I didn't like the feel of water on a cart.
My glance immediately went to a shriveled up elderly gentleman who was lining carts singly in front of the doors. I had to smile. Wal-Mart "people greeters" rock! He was making it so easy for the rest of us...we didn't have to step to the side for our carts, but walk right into one, whether we wanted it or not. Once again, a Wal-Mart employee going over and above his call of duty.
I quickly theorized that he was the oldest human being alive on the planet, but not a day older than 300 years. He had on the typical Wal-Mart school uniform colors of a blue shirt and I surmised that he had somewhere in his lifetime stolen a pair of Lyndon Johnson's khaki pants and had the pants pulled up high almost to his face. His belt was actually where his Superman logo should be and his eyeglasses were thick enough to catch his face on fire if he stood in the sun for too long.
Wal-Mart instituted those school uniforms for their employees so that the employees would stand out from the rest of the customers; either that, or they wanted them to enroll in high school. I love older people, but they tend to stand out on their own, though, without the uniforms. By virtue of having lived forever, he probably knew everything there was to know about anything.
Then, I noticed that he was in a bind. One of the wheels from the cart he was moving became caught up with the wheel of another cart he had lined up at the door. He stood there struggling with all of his poor little strength trying to yank it free and there I was a perfectly good superhero standing there like a Trojan waiting to be utilized.
I needed a cart and he was struggling with one, so after doing the math in my head, I quickly ran to his rescue. This would score me extra brownie points for my daily citizenship goals with myself.
I swiftly grabbed the cart and tried to pull it out of his hands so that I could do the untangling process that was so desperately needed.
One good yank and I had it, but I needed the cart to do my shopping so proceeded to go in the store with it, only the people greeter wouldn't let go. As a matter of fact, he yanked it back. I decided not to report him to his boss and still try to salvage my heroic efforts and so I pulled the cart back.
"I'll take it," I said with a smile, "I need this." I thought I was being pretty nice about it considering he was being rude.
He yanked it from my hands and said, "No! Give it back!"
The wheel became tangled again after his new yanking episode and at that point I figured there was something more serious wrong with him and maybe they shouldn't have put him at the front door. I now knew that he needed me more than he thought he did.
I ,once again, saved the day by yanking the cart away from the other one and while I was at it yanked it away from him and said, "Look, it's OK, I'll take this one."
I was quickly losing my patience and thought about not helping him anymore.
We both had our hands on the cart, each pulling. I waited for him to let go, but he quickly yanked it out of my hands. What was wrong with him? I was about to call his manager when what he did next completely shocked me and threw my mind for a loop.
He pulled out a whistle that was on a string around his neck that had been tucked under his shirt collar and proceeded to place it near his crusty lips, ready to blow at any moment.
Yep, he was going to blow a rape whistle. On me. Then, he screeched this with hundreds of years of vent up anger, "Let go of my cart, it's the one I want to shop with! Let GO! Let go!"
Suddenly, my life was a slow motion video as I closed my eyes and silently berated myself inside of my own head. Thoughts sorted themselves inside of there like dirty laundry. He didn't work for the store. Wal-Mart didn't make him dress ugly, he was dressed ugly on purpose. He was just sorting the carts into everybody's way until he found the one he liked. I wasn't helping him at all. I was harassing him. Oh, my brownie points!
I let my hand slip off of the cart while his lips desperately clutched the whistle.
"I am so sorry," I sputtered, "I thought you worked here."
Like a hostile behemoth he jerked the cart out of my hand (oh, now you muster up strength) and left me standing there with the lineup of carts he had pulled out and tears in my eyes.
My apology meant nothing to him and I felt horrible. He callously walked off while I looked for a hole to crawl into, but that is the one thing Wal-Mart doesn't have, is holes.
Then, from out of nowhere, comes the real people greeter.
"Ma'am," she snapped at me, "you can't put all of these carts here in the way! This is a walking path!"
I suddenly felt as though I had been mauled by wolves.
If they ever make a movie about my life, that part will be so confusing.
Well, this was my rambling story of heroism gone awry, but at least this trip to Wal-Mart didn't involve rabid raccoons (another story, another time) or a slipper fight (sigh). Also, I didn't get bitten this time.
I just want to shop and leave. False hope--gotta love it. Now, I have to go flail myself with humiliation and shame and hope that one day somebody writes this book because I sure need it:
Just a few pics of some friendly Wal-Mart shoppers
This is why I stay home...