Anyone who knows me, knows that I detest shopping at Walmart. Before I continue, I feel I need to put a disclaimer here:
Disclaimer: Walmart is a fine company, I’m sure, and it’s employees of fine quality as far as I know. In no way should my story be an indication of what may or may not happen should you choose to shop at Walmart. My story is true, but I am providing visuals through my writing which may or may not portray Walmart in a light they may or may not appreciate.
Whew! Now that that’s done, let’s get to what happened to me on Wednesday March 6, 2019 in a local Walmart (I’m not even going to name the location).
The reason I loathe shopping at “super stores”, or one-stop shops, is because I have difficulty walking ten miles on hard concrete to pick up something from a pharmacy aisle only to trek to all four corners of the known universe within the structure to find five other items I need. It’s not laziness, but more of a sense of dread that I will spend an hour (or more) in one location and still not find what I need.
Set aside my generalized anxiety over potentially running into someone I’ve been trying to avoid, the rattle of carts whose wheels could fall off at any point and time, the press of sweating bodies in a single checkout lane (even though 20 lanes are available, yet unmanned by an employee), and those in society who chose to potentially infect the masses with heaven only knows what kind of communicable diseases and/or viruses that keeps them home from work or school yet motivates them to mingle in public.
My parents can attest to the fact that if I had any luck, it’s bad luck.
So, March 6th – I have a list of about 20 items I decide might be cheaper to pick up at the previously mentioned store. I hunt for a parking spot not located a mile away because I’m prepared for that 10 mile trek indoors. Everything seems relatively normal for the location. Being mid-day and mid-week, I am aware that the majority of the fellow shoppers are people my age or older (so, 46 and up who are still ambulatory enough to dare traversing this mega shop). There are a couple people who are utilizing electrical carts because they are unable to ambulate. There are perhaps a dozen employees scattered about.
I grab “that cart” – the shopping buggy that has been out in the elements long enough that it has one wheel that does not want to turn and another wheel that makes a clumpity-clumpity sound even over a completely smooth floor. I head for the pharmaceutical area first, just inside the doors I parked nearest. I’m happy to find everything I need quickly and head to the back of the store to gather items from my list.
I’m not sure why the potato chip and snacks aisle is a log jam, but nearly 10 percent of the shoppers had congregated here and are all trying to use bifocals and trifocals to scan products for various ingredients and price savings. I’m there to grab a big bag of greasy, salty, heart attack inducing plain potato chips.
I was waiting my turn to grab a bag when chaos ensued.
Suddenly, from around the corner, a woman on an electric cart zoomed into the crowd from nowhere. Decked out in her Betty Boop pajamas and red fuzzy slippers, ensemble complete with a winter coat, the woman demonstrated that not all electric carts run at 1 mph or die before you complete your shopping (which is usually want happens whenever I’ve shopped with someone who required the assistive device).
Like Moses parting the Red Sea, she hurtled forward completely oblivious to those seeking an early death via chips of various flavors. Abandoning their regular carts, the shoppers pressed themselves as close to the shelving as the woman zipped through with zero regard, swaying in and out in a slalom pattern that could have won her a gold medal at the Winter Olympics.
Gasps were audible as she careened through the aisle without stopping and disappeared out the other end and out of sight. As shoppers recovered, I grabbed a couple of bags of snacks that are not what I wanted, but I was distracted by what had happened and opted for a nearby bag of baked chips and a box of Wheat Thins so I could escape.
Feeling the danger had passed, I decided moving to the food section might be wise and it was less crowded. All was safe as I grabbed liquids and placed them into my cart.
My next stop? The bread aisle. I had just stopped to bend over and grab some white sandwich bread that is nothing but empty calories when I heard the whine of an electric cart. To my horror, here came “Betty” around the corner.
A poor, older man was in her path. With a shopping basket in one hand and a few random items in the other, “Betty” knocked his legs out from under him and kept going with a scowl on her face. Horrified, fellow shoppers abandoned their carts to help him up and try to recover his items which had scattered across the floor. I stood in shock. I should have grabbed my cell phone to capture the violence, but I went into survival mode.
I turned to see where “Betty” was headed. She flew around the corner, backwards, in what can only be described as high-high gear, amazingly missing all abandoned carts – her vehicle of death beeping the entire time. I was about to exit the aisle when she suddenly flew past the end of it in forward mode.
Let’s stop and think about that. She disappeared backwards and somehow threw this electric cart of death into forward gear in a fraction of a second and I could have walked right into the path of a potential vehicular manslaughter.
Over the public announcement system, an employee announced that help was needed in the bread aisle. I assume it was to render aid to the poor soul who had been run down. Within seconds, however, as I moved to the frozen food section another announcement was made that security was needed.
I grabbed a couple of items and was about to exit that aisle as “Betty”, now with three bottles of red wine, a gallon jug of fruit punch and some bagged snacks, zipped past the end of the aisle in blistering speed. I watched her pass, shaking my head, then witnessed two employees in yellow safety vests and walkie talkies trying to pursue her without running. In fact, the older of the two looked like the last time he ran may have been in the 1940s.
As I stood there trying to wrap my mind around what was going on, “Betty” drove into the menswear section and promptly smashed into an entire metal rack of clothing – and knocked it to the floor – before backing up long enough to alert us of her location (sans beeping) and navigate a new path.
Intrigued, I watched her go into stealth mode by steering into the maze of womenswear, where she could not be seen because the racks were taller than she was as she sat upon the cart of death. The two employees attempted to follow in a flanking maneuver.
I hurried into a clear area and began heading toward the relative safety of the check-out. To my horror, as I sought out a free lane and potential exit, “Betty” burst free from the clothing section in reverse, once again looking like she was in a driving course for the Indy 500. Helplessly, the “security” could not reach her before she re-engaged into the forward gear and sped away towards the greeting cards.
I began looking for school supplies with horror in my heart that I might have to go full “John Wick” and stop this woman’s rampage with a #2 pencil.
If you’re not sure who John Wick is, he was a famous (movie) assassin feared because he could kill with a sharpened pencil (as the image above illustrates, to a point).
Thankfully, my checkout lane was empty. I practically threw my items onto the conveyor and quietly prayed the employee scanning my items would hurry and that someone else would enter the lane behind me to shield me from potential danger.
I escaped unharmed, but as I headed out to the parking lot, two police cars showed up. As a man who looked homeless panhandled in the lot near me, I threw my items into the back of my vehicle, jumped inside and locked the doors.
It took me maybe 30 seconds to get out of the parking lot, ignoring those “suggestion” stop signs with caution, and burned rubber to get to the highway and home.
I think “Betty” may have come out of things okay. She wasn’t on the 10 o’clock news.
From now on, I refuse to leave home and visit Walmart without carrying a pre-sharpened #2 pencil.
I highly recommend to anyone reading this that they conceal-carry writing devices or know where every store’s school supplies are located.
Just in case.