I walked into Wal-Mart at 11:50pm with a mission to buy 4 things. The Health & Beauty section was first: Ibuprofen and a bar of soap. Then, I found an employee. “Excuse me, where are your ant traps?” He walked me to the Garden section and motioned to a shelf full of pest sprays.
“Well, I’m not really looking for sprays. I want actual traps – those little plastic things full of poison that you put on your kitchen counter.”
He stared at me blankly, and I stared right back. Clearly, Wal-Mart is not where either of us preferred to be at nearly midnight on a Thursday.
“Sorry – we don’t carry those,” he said. Obviously, this was an unacceptable answer since we were in WAL-MART, an orgy of consumerism, and if you are looking for anything (especially something poisonous), Wal-Mart is the place to go. The look on my face must have given away my incredulousness, because he quickly followed up with, “I mean, this is the smallest Wal-Mart in the state.”
Sir, we are in Denver, Colorado. This is NOT the smallest Wal-Mart in the state.
But my fatigue got the best of me, and I gave in. “That’s okay,” I sighed. “Can you point me toward the hand soap?”
I walked all the way across the store to the back corner of the grocery section, and found the aisle with the dish soap and laundry detergent. I walked up and down, looking high and low, but couldn’t find hand soap. However, I did find mousetraps, which led to fly paper, which led to ANT TRAPS. Victory!
I snatched up what I needed, and then found another employee. “Hi. Where’s the hand soap?”
“Oh, that’s in Health & Beauty.”
I walked all the way back across the store, right past the Ibuprofen and bars of soap I had perused just moments earlier, and grabbed a container of blue liquid Dial.
All 4 items on my list were accounted for, so I headed to the register… the one register. 30-some registers in a row, and only one open. I was twelfth in line at Wal-Mart on a Thursday at midnight because apparently, frugality never sleeps.
These days, I am burning the candle at all ends – work and travel and morning and night and friends and family and email and money and laundry and exercise and who needs sleep? Every hour is full, including midnight at Wal-Mart. As I type, I’m at the airport again – this time, flying into a weekend which will require an amount of emotional muscle that I’m just not sure I can manage right now. But I will anyway.
Knowing some of this, my manager/friend Sarah looked at me the other day and said, “I’m afraid you’re going to burn out.” I looked back at her, surely with eyebrows raised and a maniacal grin, and said, “Oh no, I’m fine. I’m fine! HAHAHA!” And then my eyeball twitched.
When the Wal-Mart cashier finally checked me out and I’d swiped my debit card for $15.18, I walked toward the exit only to find the automatic doors turned off. “PLEASE USE OTHER DOORS” the sign said, pointing toward the far end of the store. Seeing my car just beyond the glass, I put my fingers in between the glass gates and pried them open, setting off an alarm. And I walked out into the night.