Clean Up in Aisle Six, Please

Within the span of six days, I’ve been falsely accused, called a tyrant, and labelled a liar.  With this in mind, I decided to take a well-deserved break from my evil machinations and relax.  Even us sinister masterminds deserve a day off.  Now that the term is over, I can focus on a few things (at least during the next two weeks) that matter to me.  These include  cooking, catching up on television, and doing research (yes, I love doing that).  I’d mentioned previously that I also update my courses, so that’s definitely on my to-do list.

The highlight of the 72 hours that I’ve been on break, however, came today when I decided to stop at Walmart.  I never intended to stop there, but after running a few errands, I realized that I needed to get something – anything – for dinner.  I can run one of two ways when it comes to shopping:  I can either race in and out, grabbing what I want with deadly precision, or I can mosey around like I’ve no care in the world.  Today’s trip involved the latter.

As I collected a few items here and there (careful to focus on precisely what I needed), I came cart-to-cart with a woman* who was only partially paying attention to her surroundings.  The fact that she cut me off so that she could grab something on a distant shelf didn’t bother me; as I said, I had no place to be (but home), so . . . meh.  But when she returned to the cart, she looked at me a beat before belting out a rather loud, “Hello!”  I smiled, said, “Hello,” and moved on.  Truthfully, I didn’t think much further about her or this odd meeting; I was just curious as to how much the frozen corn-on-the-cob was this week.

(* I was sorely tempted to point out that she was nice looking African-American woman, probably in her mid-to-late-40s, with straight, shoulder length salt-and-pepper hair, and that she looked like she’d have been more comfortable in the Hamptons than the Upper Midwest – she was wearing Capris, for goodness sake – but then, none of this affects what happens next.  Still, you get the idea.)

After completing my run of the store (and frozen corn-on-the-cob is $2.50, by the way), I decided to meander to a self-checkout booth.  As I was scanning the aforementioned package of corn, I heard a loud noise, followed by a louder, shrill voice:  “You don’t do that to me!  You don’t do that to me!  I will never shop at this Walmart again, do you hear me?”  I looked over to the area where this was coming from – three or four lanes over – and it was the woman from earlier, looking as what I imagined an angry Death might look like.  Seriously – I’ve seen a lot of angry people in my time, but the expressions on this woman’s face actually scared the crap out of me.

She repeated her earlier statements several times, although later incarnations were now seeded with profanity – lots of it.  She pushed her cart off to the side and angrily marched out of the store, periodically turning to yell back at the person(s) who offended her.  When she got to the sliding glass door, she came in at an angle, thus missing the electric eye.  For a minute, she had to stand there waiting for it to acknowledge her.  When it finally did so, she was gone.

It was epic.

What was so funny to me, though, was that not one single Walmart employee seemed fazed by what took place.  In fact, while I don’t know what set her off, I got the impression from the aftermath that they’d somehow dealt with her before.  A few employees came over and began taking items from her cart to return to their proper places and murmuring to themselves.  The manager kept looking out of the window to see if the woman was out there, but after a few minutes, he also went back to work.  It was like I was the only one who had seen this event and was tasked to preserve it for all time.

I’ve seen Walmart blowups on the Internet, but never in person.  It’s an interesting phenomenon, to be honest, and more importantly, it didn’t involve me!  No one seems to have these violent reactions in Barnes and Noble, or (until recently), Target.  Being a historian, and wanting to examine the event from all angles (the professional way of saying that I’m nosy), I do want to know what was said or done that caused the firestorm, but I dare not ask.

Maybe tomorrow.

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