Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Just an Ordinary Trip to Walmart
I drive up happy to be alive, thrilled with the existence of a Walmart superstore that carries every bit of sustenance my family requires.
As I walk in, I assemble my instruments. Purse in upper portion of cart. Check. Grocery list on top of purse. Check. Glasses secured. Check. Pen in hand. Check.
Glancing to my right, I see the produce section. Having already visited Sunflower Market, I happily push my cart past the asparagus and apples, side by side in a sale bin.
Coffee. The large is $6.00. The small $3.19. We are on a tight budget this week. I choose the smaller version and add the price to what I’ve already spent. I loathe math.
Even as I carry the one and put the decimal point in its proper position, I feel my body decaying from the brain down.
Tea, bread, peanut butter. I stop in front of the peanut butter section and scan the jars. Jif and Skippy are everywhere. No Peter Pan. This can’t be. A woman with gray hair and kind eyes pushes her cart by me and flashes a smile. Should I talk to her about my problem? A therapist would be handy right now. How can we live without Peter Pan? I’m only two aisles in and I’m already experiencing an existential condiment dilemma. She keeps walking. She probably smelled my perfume - a mixture of entropy and neediness.
Do we need toilet paper? I forgot to check.
Why is paprika only sold in a large container? Is it that popular?
The man giving out samples of salsa and chips looks as if he is on the verge of regurgitation. No, thank you.
By the time I’m ready to pay, I need a blood transfusion. But I must finish. My family counts on food.
Choosing a cashier is one of the most important decisions of the day. If I choose well, I’ll go home soon. Choosing badly means playing Russian roulette with prices and bagging. Sure, I’m not sitting in a Vietnam hut like Robert DeNiro in The Deer Hunter, but I could go home in an hour with broken eggs and $2.45 less than I should.
I choose badly. The cashier never makes eye contact. Instead, she keeps a running dialogue with a fellow cashier two rows over. She’s tall and I stretch to interrupt her eye line, but it doesn’t work.
I begin to sigh. It’s a passive aggressive skill I’ve worked years to perfect. No reaction.
She throws celery on top of yogurt cups in the bottom of a bag. My outrage overcomes my exhaustion.
“Watch what you’re doing!”
She looks at me for the first time.
“You just threw celery onto yogurt cups.”
She’s silent. She’s attended passive aggressive class.
I come home and my husband and son help carry in the bags. Just as I’m about to plop down, my beloved says, “You forgot stamps.”
I call 911.