Wal-Mart Chronicles, Vol. 2 (if you missed Vol. 1, click here)
So I made my standard late night Wal-Mart run tonight. I arrived at about 10:45 with a goal to be in the checkout line by 11:05. I only had a handful of items to grab — a ten minute trip in most stores, but twice that in our local “please excuse our mess while we improve your shopping experience” Supercenter. I grabbed a few groceries, some allergy remedies to combat our late arriving spring, and a couple of computer-related items we need as we continue to optimize our use of the new Mac. I head to the checkout on schedule and find the mess you might expect. It went something like this…
There was one 20-item or less express lane open, and it was backed up about fifteen people deep, well beyond the checkout area and into the store aisles. There were three regular lines open, each at least six or seven people deep. Since the regular lanes were full of people with overflowing carts, I opted for the express line even though it was much longer. After five minutes of the line not moving, my fellow shoppers and I were growing restless.
About this time, a guy I’d run into in electronics staggered up looking like he’d wandered into the Twilight Zone. You have to love these people who act like they don’t know what a line is, wandering up to look at the front of the line as though the customers are going to part like the Red Sea and tell him they’re just hanging out to talk; that they’re not in line for the one open register. This particular cat was wearing sneakers, socks half-way to his knees, shorts that were clearly intended to be a bathing suit, and an old wife beater. He had a lot more hair in places other than his head than he did above the neck.
As weird swimsuit guy is standing next to the line looking like the doofus he is, another Wal-Mart employee walks up to open the “20 items or less” express lane next to us. Doofus swimsuit guy, either oblivious to those of us who have been waiting in line for a while or totally indifferent to our suffering and the ethics of shopping-checkout-lane-traffic, jumps to the front of the newly opened lane to check out first. He then proceeds to have to make three separate purchases, consuming at least five minutes while those of us who have shifted to the new lane plot ways to make him bleed.
After several more minutes of waiting, I finally reach the checkout counter. When I do, the lady behind the register (whose name badge reads “Customer Service Manager…Welcome to Wal-Mart, I’m Sue”) looks at my cart and the following exchange immediately ensues:
CSM Sue (condescendingly): OK, you’re supposed to be in the long line.
[Now let me interrupt the dialogue here to explain that, even with the suffering I’d endured to this point, I know nobody likes the guy who tries to fudge his way through the express lane. I try to show my fellow captives respect in these matters. I was confident in my innocence. Upon hearing Sue’s instant assessment of my haul, I took about 1.3 seconds to adjust to my high performance blood, which can go from 98.6° to 212° in 1.5 seconds. Just short of boiling, I summon a certain amount of calmness.]
Me (making sure the shoppers behind me who are now contemplating jumping me instead of doofus swimsuit guy can also hear me): There are less than twenty items in this cart.
CSM Sue : (Mutters indiscernible stuff under her breath.) I’m assuming it wasn’t a bevy of complimentary thoughts on my math skills.
I then watch her mentally count my items as she begrudgingly runs them across the scanner and tosses them into bags. I run my debit card, she punches her buttons, I take my receipt. Here’s the score:
Thanks for shopping at Wal-Mart. It’s our pleasure to serve you.
…or something like that.