Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Quest for Peace: Enter the Wal-Mart

     The best stories of adventure keep us on the edge of our seats, and the hero of the story always has an adversary.  The protagonist always has an antagonist; Achilles had Hector, Leonidas had Xerxes, Superman had Lex Luthor, Star Trek had those Klingons, Luke Skywalker had Darth Vader, and The Incredible Hulk had that reporter guy.  Since I have taken on the roll of Mr. Mom my arch enemy and most ardent adversary has been the dreaded creation of Sam Walton:  Wal-Mart!  The following story is of a quest, and the obstacles that confront the participants as the journey continues.  Think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom or Enter the Dragon meets Psycho and A Nightmare on Elm Street.  Well probably not to that extreme, but an interesting study of a journey through America's favorite store.  Fasten your seat belts, its gonna be a bumpy ride.
     On the day in question the task seemed simple: Go to Wal-Mart and purchase Weed-eater cord, Advil, Two Birthday Cards, Chicken, and Ice Cream.  I took on this challenge with both children in my company, and I should point out that this story took place a few years ago.  Almost immediately upon entering the domain of the everyday low prices I was hit with a foreboding sense of doom.  I was met almost immediately by a woman who proceeded to say how "Cute" my kids were, but then critique the outfit choice I had made.  I don't see anything wrong with a football jersey on a little girl, but this woman did.  It is a fact that a man with a baby is immediately considered a helpless soul who needs instruction by most women, especially those 50 and over.  Maddie saw a Dora toy that she had to have, and began to scream.  The woman immediately said, "When's the last time you fed that baby?"  I tried to explain that the issue laid with Dora not food, but this loud screech from my daughter drew the attention of more women.  The normal questions then came, "That baby is cold, why didn't you dress her warmer?", "She probably needs a diaper change!", and even "Bless his heart, Mama must be out of town."  I tried to tell these over bearing women, that I really do know what I'm doing or at least I can fake it pretty well.  I had to resist the urge from saying, "Look woman, I got this!"  I didn't but I really wanted too.  I was able to escape the clutches of the Hens from Hell, but my quest was severely altered at this point.  It would not be the last obstacle I encountered however.
     In the greeting card isle, which is tough enough without any distraction, we ran into an old family friend.  This man was, how do I say this nicely, at an advanced age.  He kept calling me "Frankie", and I didn't have the heart to tell him that that's not my name.  He asked me, "How's your daddy doing?"  My response, "Well not to good, he passed away several years ago."  The response, "I'm sorry to hear that I bet your Mama took it hard."  I said, "Well, not really, she passed away before he did."  I wrote this off to lack of knowledge, and I wasn't really offended.  However, I started to wonder just how good a family friend this old guy was in the first place.  After discussing that great one arm baseball pitcher, "Southpaw Sam" that supposedly he and Daddy went up against back in the day in an amateur baseball game, I was able to get away from him, and continue my quest.  I grabbed the best looking birthday cards I could find and high-tailed it for the weed-eater cord.  Got the cord and headed out, dodging other obstacles on the way.  I felt like Pac-Man trying to avoid those ghosts.  I was able to find the rest of my items fairly easily, and I headed for the check out.  I should have known this journey would not end well, and the most difficult obstacle was still ahead!
     I arrived at the check out, and immediately you have to deal with the product placement there.  Both kids are wanting candy, chips, etc.  My eyes are immediately drawn to the headline, "Brad and Angelina's Secret Affairs Revealed."  I stopped myself from reading this craziness, and told the kids "We have candy and chips at home!"  I looked forward and it appeared the checkout girl was having issues with the customer ahead of me.  This is not out of the ordinary, because Wal-Mart is a haven for troublemakers and difficult people anyway.  It wasn't long before I realized what was happening, the lady ahead of me was one of those extreme coupon people.  She was trying to get a million bottles of mouthwash and some kitty litter for free undoubtedly.  I waited for a while behind this nonsense, but I eventually looked to another checkout line.  The problem was there were only three checkouts open.  You would think that America's largest retailer would have more checkouts open, but you would think wrong.  I tried to get in another line, but I ran into another issue, another coupon lady!  Believe it or not, I never run into these people but on this day I run into two of them.  The wait seemed to take forever, but It was almost like accepting my fate at this point.  No reason to struggle or fight anymore, accept it and move on.  I did have to exchange my ice cream, because it had melted quite a bit during my wait. Just when I thought it was all over and I was going to make it out alive, the lady at the front of the store asked to see my receipt.  As if to say, "I think you stole something in here."  Of course, I couldn't find the darn thing anywhere,  I finally had to say, "Look, Lady!  Do I look like a guy who would bring two kids to Wal-Mart to steal stuff?"  She responded, "No you don't I guess, but you should dress that baby warmer!!  She's probably getting hungry too!"  I left the store feeling bitterly defeated.
     Chalk up a victory for my arch-nemesis, but I did escape without bodily harm befalling me or someone else so in that sense it was a small victory.  Sometimes small victories are all you can ask for when you have to deal with such a worthy adversary.  We shall meet again evil Wal-Mart!!  Sam and his minions can't keep a good man down!