A collection of distilled sarcastic wisdom, numerous photographs, discussions of books and stuff to learn and more stuff to think about from a retired economics professor turned blogger and photographer.
Yesterday I went to WalMart expecting a defining positive experience to start the New Year. Here is what happened. I had a short list: a large garbage bag to stick the artificial tree in; two furnace filters; a gallon of 1% milk; six 9 v batteries to put in the fire alarms before they start blasting; some dulcolax. Then on impulse a stuck in a bottle of bubbly juice. I started on one end of the store at the pharmacy dept., headed for the other side, which was approximately 5 miles away, to find the garbage bags in the household section, only to be informed that the large 55 gal. bags were in sporting goods. Why sporting goods? To bring home bags of ducks or an elk or something? So I dutifuly retraced the five miles, after locating a gallon of milk in the very farthest corner of the store, approximately in Australia, asked a guy in the paint dept. where they were, and was led to the sporting goods dept. The batteries were easy to locate, and I stumbled miraculously on the furnace filters. Feeling proud of myself for not keeping my wife waiting too long in the car, I sorted out the checkout lines and found a short one with only one person in front of me.
Huge mistake. This person was having trouble with her credit card which wouldn't go through, so I already had my stuff on the conveyor belt and people were waiting behind me. I twiddled my thumbs and recited the Star Spangled Banner while she twiddled and fiddled. When the card finally went through, she had to meditate for awhile before deciding she didn't really need any cash back after all. So there I was, still possibly getting out the front door in record time. Next big mistake. Checker tried to scan my Dulcolax and it wouldn't scan. He asked me how much it was and I told him but the amount wouldn't go in, setting up alarm signals in Bentonville AK and threatening the cash flow of the Walton family. He fiddled with it a while longer. I told him to forget it, that I didn't need it, which was a lie, but I felt embarrassed for the people waiting behind me. They cheerfully said it didn't matter so I relaxed. Ultimately WalMart Checker Guy signaled for help. Once, Twice, Thrice. Ultimately help arrived in the form of a 12 year old boy who said, "Well you put in the wrong code and jammed the computer and jammed the register." I asked the young man at what age he became a computer genius, and if he started learning computers at the age of 10. He said, actually, at the age of 4, to which his female supervisor said, "He's only 10 years old now." If you need help, you ask the youngest person in the room.
Thus, 20 minutes of wasted time elapsed in the store that sells stuff cheap and sends the winnings to the Walton family. I proceeded to leave the store whereupon I encountered a man who was confused about which door was the exit door and which was the entrance. "Pain in the rear," I opined and the man replied, "It sure is." But I stimulated economic growth and the GDP by $42. 63, reduced unemployment by .000000001 of a percentage point, made a profit for the Waltons, and left vowing never, ever to go to WalMart again. Until the next time I need cheap stuff and feel the Waltons need a few more bucks. And I need fresh material for writing another post on my blog.
After already having spent a fortune trying to stock up from zero inventory, we needed a few more things, so we went to WalMart. My wife is still unable to walk due to sciatic pain, so she got one of the mobile electric carts, or whatever they are called. Big mistake for me. While she could whiz around at 50 mph, I could barely stagger up and down the aisles. I spent about 80% of my time looking for her. Here is a summary of this latest inspirational experience:\
While entering the door that said enter, the entrance was blocked by dumbbells exiting said door.
While exiting the door that said exit, the exit was blocked by dumbbells entering said exit door.
Part way through our epic shopping experience, a massive hailstorm pounded on the roof so noisily I interpreted this as a stern warning from above: Never, never accompany your wife to WalMart.
I walked at least 200 miles, 2 miles shopping, and 198 miles looking for my wife.
When I got home, there were 3 smelly, rotten potatoes in my 10 pound bag of russets
The average number of children per mother at WalMart seemed to be between 3 and 8.
Cell phone yappers negotiating carts full of babies, Pampers, groceries, etc., and creating hazardous shopping conditions, were in rich abundance.
Most people seemed to be going up and down all the aisles not having any idea what in blazes they were doing there, as evidenced by the fact I saw the same people in virtually every aisle I wandered through, no matter how many times I wandered there. Perhaps people thought WalMart was a form of entertainment and they were reluctant to go home and clean their kitchens and bathrooms.
In WalMart's defense, most of their stuff is cheap, especially boxed groceries like cereal and most canned staples. The store is clean, well-stocked, and devoid of any human beings who can tell you where stuff is unless you search for them for a half hour. Unlike some WalMarts, this one at least had several checkout lines open, unlike some stores where they have 200 people lined up behind one checkout counter.
When I checked out, the obviously fatigued checker asked me the obligatory question about how I was. Instead of giving the obligatory answer "fine", I elaborated that I was totally exhausted, sick of looking for my wife, anxious to get home and spend another hour hauling stuff in the car and stashing it wherever I could find a nook or a cranny. So I asked her how she was, and she said she was tired, too. So checkers really are human beings and ought to be treated as such.
Oh, I almost forgot. There were no WalMart greeters. But WalMart has started having by-by sayers instead who sort of give you a passing glance as you leave to make sure you are a Republican or something, unlike Costco which has a stern person checking your receipt to make sure you haven't stuck in a 42 inch TV on the way out the door. I asked the last Costco receipt marker lady if she ever thought to herself, "What are they thinking?" as she examined their cart perfunctorily and swiftly, since another 30 people are waiting. She said, "I just told myself that when someone went out of here with thousands of dollars worth of stuff." Who said the economic stimulus from Washington isn't working? But I have digressed, and that is what professors do. How else do you think they can bore you for an hour and 10 minutes? Have nice day.
The Curmudgeonly Professor accompanied his wife to Walmart this afternoon, which turned out to be a huge mistake. People were, as usual, entering through the exit door and, when we left, barging into the store through the exit door. If the billionaires in Benton AK would just make one simple change, it would help: Paint exit on the face of the exit doors on both sides, and Enter on the entrance doors on both sides. I should get a bonus for suggesting this improvement. I cannot imagine why someone hasn't implemented this obvious change in one of the richest companies in the world. Apparently they are making enough money so they do not care who enters through the exit door and who exits through the entrance door.
The greeter actually said "welcome to Walmart", which doesn't happen very often among the Walmart greeters we have seen. The jewelry counter lady was out for an extended lunch break so I couldn't get a watch battery. Neither did Walmart (known on the outside of the store as Always) have the shaving lotion or the eye drops I needed. My wife spent 20 minutes looking for me and I spent 20 minutes looking for her. We both vowed once more that we dould never again go to Walmart at the same time. I did learn at the checkout counter that various celebrity movie stars have been fooling around and that some have had implants of various kinds. But that news was expected and did not make up for the sour disposition I was in as I left the store, wondering why I had thought this visit would be any different than any of the previous ones. Have a nice day, the greeter said as we left the store. I was in shock to here this, because no greeter has ever spoken to me upon leaving the store.
The Curmudgeonly Professor has previously announced that his spouse had banned him from accompanying her to WalMart and Costco on account of his whining and tendency to become lost in the ten acre labyrinths of monster stores. Now, being smarter than I am, my spouse has devised a new strategy: She now makes out a separate list, hands it to me, and tells me to go collect the stuff on the list while she takes a cart and goes off and finds her own stuff. That way I cannot get lost. Not only that, but she does the grocery side, thus preventing me from running up the grocery bill with impulse items like frosted Halloween orange cookies.
Today I was sent to cosmetics and to get a new battery for her watch. I collected cranberry tablets, magnesium, and headed for the shaving aisle. I spent 13 bucks on four razor blades. Which is better, the old Gillette blue blades for 25 cents apiece that you can shave with two or three times at the most, or one blade for 4 bucks plus pennies which, theoretically, lasts three months, but which begins to scrape and pull after six weeks or so? The Gillette Fusion blade is touted as having "the comfort of 5 plus the precision of 1"(trademark). The information is also spelled out in French, a language in which I became proficient enough to pass the French reading exam for my Ph.D., but which still looks mostly like misspelled English.
My most daring purchase was Axe Fresh Action deodorant stick which is "approved for hot enounters." I asked my wife "what is a hot encounter?" and she did not know. The instructions were helpful, however, which direct one to apply to underarms only. A phone number is provided for other questions in case users are not quite sure either what a hot encounter is or how to apply it to their underarms.
From thence to shampoo, where my wife thoughtfully had a $1 coupon applicable to two bottles of Suave shampoos, which cost 99 cents apiece to begin with, so I got 2 shampoos for 50 cents each, a bargain that made my coupon-clipping spouse extremely happy. My Suave shampoo is "ocean breeze, infused with sea algae extract and vitamin E." It is helpful for me to realize each time I shampoo that I am washing my hair with gunk from the ocean and that I am enjoying "the revitalizing scent of clean ocean air as gentle cleansers bring out the natural beauty of your (my) hair." Natural beauty? Hair? What little hair I have is gray, and, so far, I have never ascertained any advantage of one kind of 99 cent shampoo over any other.
So then I added Suave naturals cucumber melon rejuvenating body wash which is "infused with cucumber + melon extracts." Well, I like cucumbers and melons, and it is good to know I am sloshing off in the shower with a "rejuvenating blend of cucumber and melon extracts along with skin conditioning vitamin E." Heaven knows, I can certainly stand rejuvenating in my defunct condition.
And now to shaving cream. I have been shaving with women's shaving cream out of a pink can which does have a negative impact on my male sensibilities, so I replaced it with New! Nouveau! Gillette Series Shaving Foam Mousse A Raser, sensitive skin. Avec Aloes. Well even a dummy like me remembers that avec means with. The French angle provides a sophisticated and high end wrinkle to the shaving experience, though one wonders if the French buy 50% of the Gillette stuff, thus warranting 50% of the lanaguage on the can in French. Why not Spanish? or Greek? or Republican? Now we're down to Aquafresh triple protection advanced 2x whitening ice mint dentist recommended toothpaste that fights cavities, plaque, healthy gums, and strong teeth. Fights strong teeth? Well. I am informed that when I brush my teeth I absorb essential ingredients from my toothpaste. Well I never.
Then some Nivea sensitive post shave balm, which is alcohol and dye free which immediately calms the skin, helps prevent shaving irritations from my French labeled shaving cream can, and has moisturizers that alleviate dry skin, thus making my skin look healthy and smooth and making my skin feel relaxed and moisturized long after the application. The instructions are helpful, advising to apply to face after shaving. Who would have known?
So thus, after tromping ten miles to the back of the store to find some night light bulbs, I wend my way to the front of the store where my spousal unit awaits me, not mentioning that I no longer run off and get lost at WalMart, or chuck needless junk in the cart. She hands me a fistful of coupons that ultimately saved me $4.50, while she heads for the car and I begin my torturous grind through the check out line. After an hour, more or less, I punch in my zip code, which Costco certainly does not require, already having access to your entire personal history and every roll of toilet paper you ever bought at Costco over the past 100 years on their little magnetic strip. I leave through the Exit door, as befits proper WalMart etiquette, watching other ill-informed and ill-mannered folks exiting through the "enter" door, totally oblivious, and speaking volumes about why they shop at WalMart in the first place. And so ends another chapter in the Curmudgeonly Professor's epic adventures in the WalMart Chronicles. Enjoy.