I went shopping yesterday at Wal-Mart. I’d better explain that, as my wife is American and works eight days a week from dawn till dusk in the manner of the Yankee work-ethic, all the menial chores fall to me. The weekly shopping is one such menial chore.
Now, I’ve heard many of you out there say that wild dogs couldn’t drag you into Wal-Mart, which is an interesting geographical clue informing me you don’t live in the middle of Illinois. Or, if you do, you’re surviving on a diet of corn and soybean. If you live in an Illinois town so minute it doesn’t boast a Wal-Mart, then you drive to the nearest town that does – or starve.
Of course, we have a choice. Besides Wal-Mart, there’s a Cub supermarket and one run by a firm called Kroger. I went into Cub once. It was one of those occasions I was so pissed off with the Wal-Mart Chinese takeaway shop that I was determined never to cross their threshold again. Cub was an aircraft hangar full of cardboard boxes from which, as I rapidly learned, you rip off the fronts and help yourself. It’s not always certain what you’ll find inside, but as the choice of foodstuffs is somewhat limited, what you discover inside the box is usually what you get.
One of the regulars in Cub told me they’d only recently started accepting credit cards, and if you hand them cash they’ll call the cops. If you’re in Cub with cash, then it’s automatically assumed you got it from last night’s raid on the Credit Union across the street. Apparently, there’s a fair chance they’re right as the Credit Union gets hit at least once in every twenty-four hours, and usually between dusk and dawn.
The standard currency in Cub is not the greenback, but the SS-back, or food token. Cub caters to – shall we say – the less well off among us.
Kroger is decidedly more upmarket than Cub, but is tucked away on a tiny shopping mall that comprises a “Cash Your Check Here” shop, two sleazy insurance companies, and a Chinese takeaway run by a slant-eyed, German ex-Caterpillar Tractor welder, called Buzz.
Invariably, my weekly shop includes items other than food or household goods, but fails to ever list insurance, check cashing at extortionate interest rates, Prussio-oriental takeaway, and definitely never to date, a Caterpillar tractor, – though it’s rumored Buzz has the odd one ‘out the back’ if you’re interested – nod, nod, wink, wink, know what I mean? So, to purchase from Kroger still means shopping elsewhere for those goods Kroger fails to stock.
At this point I realize Wal-Mart now has me well and truly by the proverbial ‘short & curlies’. It’s feasible I could procure those additional items of shopping somewhere other than the Walmart Chinese takeaway that’s immensely larger than the one run by Herr Buzz, but while my English work-ethic is nothing like as stringent as that of my better-half, I do still have a blog to write – plus the occasional other item that might make a buck or two – and, during term time, a bus load of psychopathic grade-school kids to deliver. In short, spending a whole day and many miles to procure shopping every week is not a feasible proposition.
Consequently, I shopped at Wal-Mart yesterday.
Of course, yesterday was the day after the famed “Fourth of July”, which was what is known in the American language as a “holiday”. The rest of the world defines a “holiday” as a period of chronological time during which the common people relax and do no work. In America, a “holiday” is a period of chronological time when all the common people shop.
It’s easy to spot when there’s been a holiday. Next day, fools like me go shopping to Wal-Mart and find the shelves half-empty. No organic milk, hardly any organic veggies, and three million, two hundred thousand, six hundred and seventy-two different kinds of breakfast cereal – but they’re out of the one I like!
When I do eventually manage to trundle my paraplegic shopping trolley, with the one wheel seized solid and another twisted permanently twenty degrees to the left, so I develop arthroplasty of the shoulder before making the carpark, I get the checkout with the trainee person who doesn’t know the difference between sweet potatoes and broccoli, isn’t old enough to handle the three bottles of el plonko vino laughingly referred to as “liquor” and has to summon a supervisor who’s in a foul mood as she’s forced to leave her coffee to go cold and deal with some drunken alcoholic who dares to buy “liquor” at nine-thirty in the morning – “Not before ten on a Sunday”; “But it’s Thursday!”; “I’m just reminding you.” – and as the ‘piece de resistance’, my trainee checkout person fails to master the “automatic” till and jams up my receipt somewhere in the depths of the machine. By the time all is eventually sorted, the queue behind me is ten deep with fire-breathing shoppers and my friendly supervisor is glaring down her nostrils at me as though it must all be my fault.
Grabbing my crumpled receipt from the check-out person I thrust the trolley with vigor in the direction of the exit, only for it to career off at a tangent and demolish a twelve foot high display of “4th July Gift Items – Reduced” just recently constructed by said supervisor.
On arriving at my car I fill up the trunk before sinking into the driving seat, slamming shut the door, and muttering darkly,
“God BLESS America! Happy 5TH of July!”
Filed under: Wonder of Walmart