I like free. But even though my fun local Mini Cooper dealer’s waiting room contains a free beverage bar, a free retro Ms. Pacman machine, free wi-fi and even an almost free freezer full of ice cream treats, instead of sitting for free saving my money in the somewhat cult-like dealership soaking in some not so subtle psudo-subliminal pro-Mini messages while they replaced my leaky tire for free, I decided to pull the old kill a couple birds with one rock trick and use the time to take a stroll in the hot Texas fall sun to run another errand… that won’t be free but would save me money.
Now before I get to the real story here, I should stop and point out that I have never actually killed two birds with one stone. As a matter of fact not being much of a hunter, with or without a rock, I don’t think I have ever actually killed one bird. Although my folks once adopted a mean horrid biting bastard cockatiel named Algernon that I might have wished a slow painful death on several times. Inside his deceptively looking happy little yellow head with those jolly orange circles on either side was a conniving evil menace; kinda like those violent destructive folks dressed as happy merry clowns that keep popping all over.
OK, I know I will catch heat for admitting this but I don’t really like birds. They are pretty flying around in the sky or up there hanging out in the trees or lined up all cutesy on power lines but keep those flying rats out of my face. Back in High School a friend once pulled over and jumped out of the driver’s seat attempted to help a stunned pigeon on the side of the road. I insisted it looked okay but she had to put the damn thing in the car by my feet. Two seconds later when the damn thing started flailing and flapping on the floor boards, I not only flipped out, I literally flipping over the passenger seat onto the people in the back. To this day I still say the thing was trying to attack me and gouge my eyeballs out!!! Birds… brrrrrrr.
Except for some delicious southern fried chicken or top notch cordon bleu, I have had nothing but bad experiences with birds. Between the Algernon debacle and this other somewhat schizoid bipolar girl that I briefly dated that used to feed her equally as psycho canary seeds from her mouth, I sure as hell would never consider having a bird as a pet. I’ll stick with cuddly cats and dogs or slimy fish that stay inside the tank.
And since I am admitting embarrassing things that I know I will catch heat on, (and it will finally lead us to my point) I also don’t like WAL-MART either. I’m not trying to sound like a snob and yeah, the cheap side of me likes the prices, but the place just depresses me. It’s not just the store, it’s the smell, the lines, the attitude, the way things look, the way it always feels like something bad is about to happen in there and… well… the people in there just seem very … Wal-marty.
There is a reason why there are not web sites devoted to photos of shoppers in Target, Kroger, Kohls, Publix or Shop Rite, but there are several featuring the freaky folks that frequent WAL-MART. Okay, maybe like with the birds, I’m exaggerating my feelings a little bit but no one out there can really argue that WAL-MART does not attract a wide array of weird freak-show, carnie-type, down-trodden, low rung of the societal ladder folks through the doors.
And believe me, I know there are some absolutely really super nice normal people that shop in WAL-MART too. You can sometimes spot one miserably standing there in the massive long check-out lines stuck behind the obese bra-less woman with five kids under six years-old that are manhandling the candy on the check-out line racks with their grubby little dirty hands as their oblivious Mom writes a check to pay for a family size mega box of Triple Chocolate Glazed Sugar Frosted Pop-Tarts.
Or once in a while you can spot a frustrated normal looking person stuck over at the customer service desk waiting for hours behind the arguing guy with multiple oozing open sores trying to return an obviously used package of Fruit Of The Loom whitey tighties.
It’s not my fault the nice normal folks in there are hard to notice behind the gazillion other nut-bags that look like they were blindfolded before they got dressed that morning using only clothes from the unclaimed bin at the local homeless shelter.
Please, Please, Please, believe me… I am not saying I am better than anyone else or that I don’t like all humans that walk into WAL-MART. I just know when I go in there I obsess over the bad versus seeing the good. I know it’s me. But the fact is it depresses me to go there. That said, it depresses me more to buy my ridiculous current favorite shaving cream of choice for $8.00 a tube everywhere else when I can get it for less than $6 bucks at WAL-MART. And there is truly the catch-22 that gets us all to shop there.
For that kind of savings and since I had time on my hands while they changed my tire and the store was right there and, and, and… I decided to break my own rule and be a two-faced Wal-Martyr.
I got hot in the bright sun during the mile walk next to the tollway construction site, near the constantly changing road-side mini-mall stores, past the over-priced Exxon station and through the mammoth parking lot over to the Mart of Wal. Stinky sweat blotches started soaking through my t-shirt in unattractive locations and my face turned into a blotchy red drippy mess. I didn’t worry; I assumed this would help me blend in.
I tossed a couple of bucks at the limbless war vet raising cash for something at a table out front and then stepped through the dirty dreary doors past the eye assaulting ‘down on your luck’ rip-off vending machines that process your loose change at a huge fee, buy old cell phones at minuscule prices and sell store branded generic soda for 50-cents a can. Even with all that I was still feeling alright until I got to the mostly toothless greeter type person with the rotting mouth sewer breath that wished me a blessed day; then my mood turned a bit sullen.
I hated myself for stopping 20 paces from the entrance at the oversized bin of $4.99 DVDs. I can’t help myself. I have not bought a DVD in years but I still feel a compulsion to stop and look. And not just glance, I have to dig and dig and dig deep into the middle of the pile practically climbing into the display because I obsessively have to make sure that a single last leftover beloved marked-down treasure is not hiding in there waiting to be discovered. Maybe it will be the next one I touch… Maybe the next one.. Okay this is the last one I will look at… okay maybe one more… ooo I had not seen that on in the stack before… just one more. AAAAAAAAAAAAAA I hate it and I hate myself for being obsessively compulsively suckered in.
Five minutes in and already in a daze, I put down the movies and like a moth to light, blindly walked towards the glowing TVs in the back of the store. There was always something for me to play with in electronics department. Then it hit me… speakers… I was thinking about new speakers for my old fashioned stereo I just set up in the house. I thought I might as well check out what the low end ones look like these days before I plunge into something overpriced. I got time and how could speakers further depress me? WAL-MART always had tons of that stuff. Well.. WAL-MART used to always have tons of that stuff. Humph… A wave of ‘back in my day-isms’ rolled over me like a thick ancient morning English harbor fog. I now not only felt depressed, I also felt old.
Those old cheapy stereos and household electronics they used to sell were all gone. All of them. Gone were the stereo systems, CD players, tape decks, amplifiers and boom boxes along with most of the music and videos that my generation addictively purchased whenever there. House phones, stereos, traditional speakers, simple basic headphones without an oversized ‘B’ on the sides… all gone.
Instead there were dozens of Fitbits, gaming systems, wireless mini Bluetooth portable speakers and a zillion different cell phones to link them to. I felt like an old relic. Like Rip Van Winkle waking up after an extended snooze. Or a time traveler in a low budget Si-Fi flick that is set just far enough into the future that they do not have to build any futuristic sets and instead just shove a couple of unrecognizable modern looking objects and clothing mixed among familiar contemporary surroundings.
To make matters worse, I noticed in that department there was a short somewhat clubfooted, slightly not a 100% mentally, low-end employee that obviously was trusted only to use his feather duster on the tops of the items strictly on the bottom couple of shelves. Normally I would just say hi to him and move on but I could not stop staring at him. He had very similar clothing to mine on under his blue Wal–Mart-ware vest and also sported the exact same shaved head and goatee/van dyke as me. Yes, he was a little not quite up to snuff Mini-me. Which means I looked like a bigger fatter Maxi–me of him. I thought “oh my, is my look/appearance so dated and lame that it is the same as the WAL-MART somewhat life challenged lowest paid charity employee?”
Feeling like a sad relic, I was sinking into my usual WAL-MART depression. I had to get out of there. I quickly tried to locate my shaving cream but there is no ‘quick’ in locating things in a WAL-MART They keep moving junk around so you get suckered into seeing more stuff that you did not know you needed. I found my way past the astoundingly massive adult diaper section, which says something about their clientele, which was creepily close to the almost as large condom and various KY Jelly configurations. I still find it a little hypocritical that WAL-MART sells a plethora of prophylactics and shelves of somewhat demure ‘enhance your sexual pleasure’ products but for decades as a company they did not cover contraception items in their employees’ health insurance.
Eventually I made it to the shaving products. I went to grab my precious Cremo Cream when I discovered they had a second new ‘soothing’ version that looked almost the same as the original I irrationally loved. It looked the same except it had a blue lid instead of red and reeked of aloe. Do I try the new one? I like to be soothed. I could use some soothing right then. Or, hmmm, do I stick with the old one I know I like? Damn those cunnivingly smart WAL-MART bastards. I picked up one of each.
I was now going to spend double what I planned. Granted, I got double the amount I would have but they got me to spend more than I would of if I just bought the red tube in my regular store. And isn’t getting me to spend more than I originally planned their whole business plan? Those damn Wal-Marters won again.