As I push my overloaded shopping cart through the overloaded parking lot, dodging cars and abandoned carts, I mumble to myself that I will *never* set foot in Wal Mart again. Just a moment later I sigh to myself and realize that I have made that promise before. But this time, I mean it! Let me just share with you a few experiences I have been through....
The Wal Mart where I used to live was not horrible. Well, ok, it was. But it was bearable because it was three minutes from home and I was able to go when it was not as busy (like in the middle of the night!) But that store was always filthy and the staff were less than thrilled to be there. Who could blame them? I was once standing in line, after a gruelling 30 minute ordeal just to buy about ten items. (Since these stores are so MASSIVE, if you want toothpaste and milk, you have to walk half a mile to get from one item to the other. Add an unhappy toddler to the mix, and you have misery only a mother can understand.) Of course, there are only three of the twenty eight checkstands open, and each one is about five people deep. So I pick the one that looks the most promising-the self checkout. I have faith in my checking abilities, so this shouldn't be hard. I watch as the people up to bat are struggling with the machine. It's almost a fight. They look puzzled, then give in and ask for help. But help is slow to come. Finally, they get it done. The next few transactions seemed to go well, until the one right before me. They have one item-it's a microwave or toaster or something. But it would not scan. They look frustrated and look for assistance. When someone finally makes it over, she announces that this machine would be down for at least an hour and to go to another line. By this point, there are at least five people behind me-who high tail it to the nearest line, leaving me at the end. The poor guy behind me, who had deodorant and gum, threw his items on the ground and left. I followed.
Another great thing about these super stores is the apathy it's customers have for the appearance of anything. If they pick up a gallon of milk, and decide in the electronics department that they don't really want it-the milk is tucked away between a Celine Dion and Chicago CD. I once turned down the aisle where the laundry detergent is kept to find an elderly woman struggling on the floor. She had slipped in spilled fabric softener and could not get up. She was absolutely horrified and embarrassed, but willing to accept my help. I offered to talk to the store manager for her, but she refused. She left the store as quickly as her blue laundry fresh soaked bottom could take her.
Speaking of spilled stuff-just today I managed to step into several eggs that had made their way to the ground. Had I not been avoiding careening carts with several other shoppers, I may have noticed the small war zone at my feet. But no, I was a woman on a mission-to get my eggs and get out. So when I slipped on the yellow mess, I was less than happy. Luckily, I had my SUV-sized shopping cart to grab on to.
Have you ever tried filling a prescription at a Wal Mart pharmacy? Don't. I'll be transferring mine elsewhere and pay the extra money. By the time you wait in line, you just as well could have circled the store, in it's vast entirety, several times.
But even the pharmacy cannot compare to the photo center. I send in digital prints online to be printed in an hour. But I don't usually to pick them up in an hour. Sometimes I wait until later in the evening, several hours later. I've even gone in a day or so after turning them in. At least a third of the time, however, my prints are not ready. There's usually a handwritten (and poorly spelled) sign on the counter that says the one hour service is down. And if it isn't down, then you can bet you'll still have to wait. Last week, I walked up to the counter, and I was the only customer. (This is hard to believe, but trust me-I must have smelled bad and kept everyone else away.) There were two people in white coats working the lab. They were both on their cell phones texting. I'll assume not to each other, but who knows. It took me pacing back and forth, clearing my throat and finally jumping on the counter squawking like a bird to get their attention.
I have to say, Wal Mart in the winter is the worst. Nobody wants to be in the cold, so they don't spend the extra fourteen seconds to walk their cart to the cart corral. The result is a shopping cart maze. You can bet that there will be at least half a dozen parking spots in the lot that cannot be parked in because they are full of empty carts. And the space between cars is also jammed. Those pretty landscaped islands? Those are surrounded by carts that have been propped up on their back wheels, the front wheels up on the mound of dirt. What gets me, though, are the carts completely in the middle of the road or blocking someone's access to their car. Especially when it's two feet from a corral. Seriously, how lazy have we become?
So why do I continue to put myself through this Hell? In constant seek of the best deal. But today I paid 2.85 for a gallon of milk. Then I get home and see the ad for Smith's-they have it on sale for 2.50. Maybe it's time for me to start comparing a little more. It's probably not saving me much money, and shopping elsewhere would really save me the heartache.