Monday, September 29, 2008

Shopping on the Sabbath!
I really, really, really hate to do the grocery shopping on Sunday. It just doesn't strike me as proper... Not just improper but also so odious a chore as to sully the sabbath benefits that should be mine. Unfortunately, pragmatic reality does not shake out that way and I often must do the marketing on a Sunday.

That's another good reason why I never attend the 6:00pm Sunday Mass. On top of my usual spiritual reasons for not wanting to put Holy Mass at the backend of the day, it's difficult to imagine why I'd want to show up at church sweating, dishelved, shaky, cross-eyed and cussing under my breath about the latest trip to the Super WalMart.

This week was a WalMart adventure that called upon any and all graces of the day for mere survival. I've more or less made my peace with that thing near Health and Beauty that emits a high-pitched chirp every thirty seconds and the even higher-pitched screeching baby who appears to be one the payroll since he's always there, always screeching one aisle over from us.

We weren't expecting a Nordstrom-like experience. But this bordered on suburban torture. After the expected arduous shopping* there was the ultimate in checkout horror. Lots of tired shoppers. Few lanes open. And the screeching shill baby had worked the rest of the under three crowd into a frenzy.

The girls and I had worked our two carts into an open lane with some hope of movement. About ten minutes later the clerk turned off her 'light' and told the man ahead of us that the line was closed. In principal I don't like the idea of a store that asks the customers to police crowd control in the checkout...and this was a prime example of how it breaks down in a multi-lingual environment. The man ahead of us was speaking in a mixture of Hindi/English and didn't understand our protests that we were all there when the light was on. The Spanish speaking customers who tried to get in line after us didn't quite understand our warnings to avoid queueing up after us. Em went to the so-called Customer Service desk to complain (This was a strategic ploy - a pregnant librarian bringing a certain finesse to the situation. More 'needy' than the blunt though polite Frances and more nuanced than the perky though potentially obscene Irish Princess Bridget.)

The checker told us we had to get out of line because her computer was just going to lock us out. All the other lines were about ten customers long. We were running late for dinner. Blood sugar was dropping. Temperatures were rising. And with two carts full we stood our ground. Actually they stood our ground. I had a headache which was not aging well and went to find a chair outside of the WalMart bank(?). It would have been satisfying to just walk out. Except for the load of Fran's sewing supplies at 90% off which we didn't want to leave behind. And the fact that if we bailed on Sunday nite, I'd be back on Monday afternoon.

Some forty-five minutes in line later, we finally we checked out. The assistant manager who took over that lane couldn't have been nicer. And so was the assistant manager who handled my cordial call of complaint on Monday morning. The thrust of the complaint being that there is only so much suffering we should have to endure to be able to hand over $350 to the WalMart corporation.

And the girl who just had to close her lane - bless her heart - wandered about the front of the store sipping a Coke and yakking with her friends. I know WalMart doesn't pay enough to buy her loyalty. But still? And still, those graces from the morning may well have helped keep me from sticking out a leg and tripping her.

*Does anyone else out there think those shoes with wheels are one of the most idiotic inventions - EVER?


Emily said...

You know, I think they are a cool invention, but there are some places (like any busy store or public place) where they are a hazard. To admit this makes me feel a bit "old" but I really want to just stick out my foot and trip the brother/sister combo who is flying through the narrow isles of Target! I would have loved those shoes walking to the bus stop though. Many libraries ban them now... all you need is a baby or an older person colliding with a "flying" kid on wheels.

Ellyn said...


(You are a very brilliant girl. Your parents must be so proud :) )

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