Just west of Crazy


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.”

Oh really.

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.


tags: |


  1. Greta on August 9, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    Oh golly. This is not the evening I would have wished for you heading into this weekend. Praying hard friend.

  2. Michael on August 9, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    Rebel! Heaven knows I hate Wal-Mart, and yet keep going back. Like everybody else, we have a budget, and they help us save, but yeah, best have on your walking shoes. Drives me nuts, though, how they put health and beauty way over yonder! Sending strength your way…from where, I don’t know, but I pray it finds you. Hugs.

  3. Sarah Kate on August 9, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    I love you. That was surely not the strangest thing to happen that evening. Praying for you this weekend.

  4. Bree Jeffries on August 9, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    HAHAHHAHA!!!!!! Love it.

    I’m praying for you, my friend. Lots of strength and mercy.

  5. Brit on August 9, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    Hahaha, amazing.

    And, as my Dad says (because, yes, at 52, he still says this), “You can sleep when you’re dead. Go live life.”


  6. mom on August 9, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    Of course you pried the doors open and set off the alarm! That’s my girl! Thinking of you non-stop!

  7. jodie on August 9, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    you showed that alarm who was boss. even if your emotional muscle is fatigued you still have some bitchin’ pluck. ;)

  8. Shanna on August 9, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    I’m going to tell you the same thing our friends told us when we told them about Tim’s kicking me and screaming in the middle of the night, in a way that made me start screaming in my sleep, so that when I woke up in the pitch black, we were both screaming out loud: Well, at least it makes a good story. And you told it well here.

  9. Allison on August 9, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    this happened to me, except with vomit. one miserable night, i threw up 8 times and had to go to walmart to get some anti-nausea medicine to make it stop. i took a plastic bag with me, because i knew i’d need it. and i did. i threw up in a plastic bag, at walmart, at 2am. i eventually found what i needed, bought it, and tried to leave. but the doors! they were locked! and my car was right outside. i begged them to open the doors for me, and they didn’t. so i handed an employee my bag of vomit and said “then can you please throw this away…” and dramatically walked all the way to the other doors so i could leave. i handed a stranger my bag of vomit. midnight runs to walmart are the worst.

  10. Emily on August 9, 2013 at 9:14 PM

    I think everyone needs a random late night Wal Mart story. I don’t have one yet, in spite of the fact that I live within walking distance of two. There’s no excuse for me. :P

  11. Becca Groves on August 9, 2013 at 9:56 PM

    You must be super strong. Prying those doors open like you did.

    Oh man. Thinking of you this weekend. And praying for you. And so proud of you for finding the ant traps on your own!

  12. Joey on August 11, 2013 at 9:11 PM

    Allison, that is amazing and I am so proud that I know that happened.

  13. sarah kate branine on August 13, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    I feel like such a bad blog friend. I’m just sittin’ here laughing out loud. But not at you. Laughing a she-is-so-cool laugh. Love that you pried the door open and just kept going.

    This story reminds me of how happy I am to live in Oregon, the land of very infrequent WalMarts : )

  14. […] Just west of Crazy […]

  15. Bob on August 20, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    You know what the professionals (eg Orkin) use to stop ants? Boric acid. You can buy it anywhere, maybe even at Walmart.

    Just dust it where the ants frequent.


Leave a Reply Cancel Reply