Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Not Just Any WalMart Story
First of all, I wanted to save money. Why else would anyone subject themselves to the ambiance of WalMart, right? Well, that and the fact that they have no dress code so it is truly a Come-As-You-Are party. So I jump into the car with the suddenness—and the outfit—of a person who ran out of paint in the middle of a job. My makeup has slid down onto my neck because God chose not to restrict Satan’s ability to crank up the heat for menopausal women, and one good hot flash can send it sliding down onto your feet.
But I don’t worry about this. I just load up my cart with groceries and get in line. And here is where I remember that I am actually a good person, and that a key to enjoying life is to take an interest in others, even help them if you can. I see a heavy-set woman in front of me and decide to give her a sincere compliment and brighten her day a bit. I actually like the color of her knit top, and choose to tell her so. It’s the exact color of the crayons we used as kids, which said carnation.
“That’s a pretty pink,” I tell her.
She whirls around. “Oh, you know,” she says, in the tone of a long-time friend, “I just love this top. And it’s lined!” Here she lifts up the outer layer to show me the lining underneath, then says, “So no one can even tell I’m not wearing a bra!”
Well, no, not until now.
She continues. “My bra rubs my skin and I get such awful chafing.” She describes the redness, the flaky skin.
I try to look sympathetic instead of horrified but am not sure I am succeeding here.
“So I just throw this top on, and then I don’t have to worry about it!” she says.
I am sputtering, trying to think whether to say, “How wonderful,” or “Oh, lucky you,” or “My, my,” and find myself just nodding and smiling like someone who doesn’t speak English but wants you to think they do. And I am in fact wishing I did not speak English. I am also wishing I could be in another store, or at least another line, but two people are already crowding in behind me and if I change lanes now my ice cream will melt before I can get to the car.
I am stuck with the Pink Top Lady and her medical history. From what I can tell, she has never had another living soul strike up a conversation with her, so she is going to make the most of it. After she talks about her latest bout with bronchitis, she advises me to purchase all the items she is now loading onto the conveyor belt, and tells me the reason for each one.
I am hoping she will not tell me why she is loading various pharmaceutical creams onto the belt. I am praying she will not wait for me and want to walk out to the parking lot with me, see my license plate, trace it to my address, and become my new best friend/stalker. Luckily she has to pay before she can finish the show-and-tell festival, and then she leaves.
“You attract weirdos,” a friend of mine tells me later. She is not the first person to identify this phenomenon. “Look,” she says, “stop trying to do missionary work at WalMart—it’s just duck and cover, and get out as fast as you can.”