by Ben Small
The wife and I did something today that no one in their right mind should ever do.
We same-day-shopped Wal-Mart and Costco.
It’s a miracle you’re not reading about this experience on Drudge and that we’re not on the news tonight. If I’d been armed… oh my god, if I’d been armed…
What is it about these stores that draws such people? You know who I mean: the fat guys in the torn wife-beater shirts, paisley shorts and worn rubber flipflops, with blackened toes and yellow toenails that can probably cut steel, the men-folk who flash plumber’s crack bending over for another discounted case of Bud Light, and the women-folk who make these men look petite. The women are often wearing Spandex, which I used to think should be a crime. But then I saw female plumber’s crack in a Costco aisle, and I became a fan of Spandex-squeeze-containment.
I’d never before seen bats fly out of a pair of shorts. I hope I never see it again.
But these were the adults. What about the kids? You’ve seen them. Running laps up and down the aisles, tossing toys, playing catch and Keep Away, all while screaming in pitches old man Bose could only dream about.
Wal-Mart and Costco aisles are where I first saw Codger Tipping, a new sport, where unsupervised grade school kids gang tackle old people to see if they roll, bounce or shatter. There are variations to the game, of course. Sometimes, liquid soap is thrown to the floor for glide, a factor in competitions. Or carts are used for the Bump-Em-Car effects. Carts facilitate two person competitions, like Bowling for Baldies. And for even more excitement, try babies in the carts. Air-time seems to count extra.
But these are not the only delights of shopping at Costco or Wal-Mart (inclusive of Sam’s Club). Isn’t it fun when you enter planning on buying some cheap wine for a party, and you exit with three carts full of stuff you don’t need?
“The price was just so low,” you say. “A real bargain.”
And it probably was.
But how often will you use your umbrella table in your studio apartment?
And talk about gridlock. Try getting through these aisles in less time than it takes to drive through Manhattan at rush hour. Is it just me, or does everybody in Wal-Mart and Costco seem to know each other? The aisle junctions are like club rooms. Carts cluster in star patterns, and you stand and wait, nervously eying the gaggle of kids swarming behind you.
Meanwhile, at the junction, four Larry the Cable Guys are comparing beer case stacking skills and the NASCAR car numbers on their hats. A couple of these guys look like the fellows at the gas pump in Deliverance. Probably have five teeth between them.
I hear giggles and squeaky wheels behind us. I turn and instinct takes over as a cart pushed by two eight-year-olds, I’d guess, comes hurtling our way. It’s headed for my wife. I shove her away, and she falls into a stack of apples, which then roll all over the aisle parallel to ours. Screams and thuds abound, as AARPies flounder. The cart whizzes by and pounds into the Cable Guys. As Oldies in the aisle next to ours topple and cry out, one of the Deliverance crew looks up and smiles. “Extra points, Jimmy Joe,” the man says, his chest expanding with pride. A fat tongue presses against the man's lower tooth, cocking his mouth to the right like it's stuffed with a plum. He thumps the chest of the man next to him and points at a kid. "D'ere's my kin. A chip, ain't he?"
We brave all this, and finally make it to the registers, where we wait while a family of twelve with four carts full of Hamburger Helper, potatoes, candy, beer, cookies, frying oil, TV dinners, pretzels, an assortment of chips and dips, slabs of Velveeta, eggs, frozen pizzas, and other preserved or friable delicacies look for a credit card that's not maxxed out.
A toddler, almost buried in one of the carts, bellows, and the sickly-sweet stink of fresh baby-poop hangs in the air. Momma laughs, says, “Just a little longer, darlin’.” The toddler’s not satisfied. He or she ― hard to tell which when the Tater Tot lies buried under mounds of packages ― tosses one of the egg cartons to the floor, where they do what broken eggs do. Another carton follows, and the wife and I are looking for another checkout counter.
They’re all full, and there are carts behind us.
Trapped again. This time at the checkout counter, where the people in front of us are still searching for a credit card, and where an eggy floor awaits us.
But our joy for the day was just beginning. See, we started at Costco, but Costco buys large lots of some things, but not everything. What you saw last week won’t be there this week. This week, Costco did not have the whole grain crackers I crave as a late night snack.
And those crackers were why we came to Costco in the first place. They're stocked at Wal-Mart, too, but not at our local groceries.
I must have those crackers. We had to do both stores.
Costco and Wal-Mart should install metal detectors at their entrances, for I now understand that there’s an anger more ferocious than Road Rage. It’s feral, and you can find it in its most violent form at Wal-Mart and Costco.
And stay away from the knife counter.