I am a sweaty, dirty, stinky mess from working in my yard while the brutal September sun beats down on me. I am five minutes away from completing the task and anticipating the luxury of a long shower and fresh clothes. It is at that moment that my weed-whacker runs out of line and I do not have a spare roll in the garage. I suppose lots of people would just stop and finish the task another day. For us type A folks that is not an option. I feel compelled to finish what I start. Here’s the dilemma; do I make a quick dash to Walmart, get the line and quickly finish the job or do I clean up first knowing that I will have to repeat the shower a second time after the work is done?
I am not a fan of wasted time so I opt for a very focused, very brief trip to the store. I enter through the garden department avoiding eye contact. I am a woman on a mission in stealth mode. Find string, buy string and not be seen by anyone that I have ever met in my entire life. In my imagination it played out easy and I was in the store less than three minutes. Ha!
“Where is the weed whacker string?” my mind screams as my eyes dart around what used to be the lawn and garden department but is now 80% full of Christmas trees and ginormous inflatable snow globes and Santa Clauses.
I spot an employee, let’s call him Waldo, that is also attempting to be in stealth mode. Waldo tries to pretend he has not heard me ask for help. Good luck with that sucker! I cut him off at the intersection of wrapping paper and and strings of LED icicles. “Yeah,” he mumbles, “I think we have some but it has been moved over near hardware. I’ll show you.”
Waldo, an underpaid hourly employee slowly meanders through what seems like twenty aisles The longer it takes to get to the weed-whacker string the fewer heavy boxes of artificial trees he will have to put on the shelves. During our journey to hardware I have no less than four people greet me and call me by name. Busted!
After a slow methodical search, Waldo finds the string that fits my particular brand and model of weed-whacker. I take off power walking towards the register only to find that it is closed forcing me to walk to the front of the store to pay for the string.
Before I make it back to my car I see at least 6 more people that recognize me and call me by name. I don’t like that I am still easy to recognize wearing my old Eagles concert t-shirt that has had the sleeves amputated, shorts, shorter than what I would normally ever wear on any property I don’t own, and old athletic shoes stained green from grass clippings. That is when reality slaps me in the face. Yup, I am a person of Wal-mart.
Many years prior, just out of college and living in my first apartment I had to visit a laundry-mat to wash my clothes. This wasn’t totally foreign to me since for financial reasons I had lived in a dormitory throughout college. Students used the laundry mat located in the basement of each building. The main difference, that I didn’t appreciate at that time, was that we were all students, all women and while I occasionally heard about someone having clothing stolen, such reports were the exception not the rule.
The real world laundry mat had a more diverse population. Going to the laundry mat for many was a family outing. Smart phone and tablets wouldn’t be invented for years so with the absence of technology moms and dads talked or argued loudly about that things that should have remained private. Toddlers ran around the machines their bare feet slapping the dirty tile. Most wearing only a disposable diaper. Older kids played demolition derby with the laundry carts while munching on Twinkies.
It was loud and stuffy and I learned quickly to take a book and pretend to read. That didn’t stop others from trying to engage me in conversation but it helped a little. I know it sounds snobby, I apologize, but some of the folks were really creepy. I once had a man compliment my panties as I was moving items from the washing machine to the dryer. Eeewww! He went so far as to peer through the glass door of the dryer as my undies flipped around and then he turned and smiled at me!
I called my mom later in the day and she asked what I had done that morning. “I did my laundry. Mom, I don’t like the people I see at the laundry mat.” I griped. My mother has always had a knack for getting straight to the point and putting me in my place. “Well sweetheart,” she replied, “You may not like them but you are one of them.”
We can be a little (or a lot) judgmental at times so let’s remember that unless you never (never ever) go to Walmart, then just like me, you are a person of Walmart!