True confessions

This one is scary: I just might be a Person of Walmart.

Have you seen The People of Walmart? These e-mails go around showing pictures of people in the most ridiculous, hideous outfits you can imagine, supposedly taken at Walmart. (I can believe it, I saw a 30-something woman there last year wearing flannel pajamas and snow boots.)

Now, I’m not technically that kind of person of Walmart — I tend to dress in boring street clothes and make sure all private parts are fully covered.

But I did a really dumb thing the other day that just might qualify me to another kind of person of Walmart.

I hadn’t been shopping for a couple weeks, and we were out of everything (empty fridge bins and all). So I headed out to spend a lot of money replenishing. I spent a good hour and a half shopping, up and down and across the store.

I was just about to check out when I remembered a recipe I wanted to make uses mint. (I must be the only person in the world whose mint doesn’t spread all over the garden. We inherited a couple mint plants with the house, and they pop up every year, but don’t spread. So by this time of year, after I’ve used them all summer, they’re pretty sad — more flowers than leaves.)

So I headed back to produce to check for mint. $2.27 for a little bunch in a plastic container? No thanks — I’ll strip what I can from the sorry plants at home. As I turned to go back to my cart, I saw it.

My cart.

My cart with the bananas and the peaches and the birdseed and the soap and the (don’t tell) root touch-up kit. All the stuff I had picked up first on the other (nonfood) side of the store.

But no, there was my cart — really full with the coffee and bread and eggs and ice cream and chicken and ground turkey — everything except bananas and peaches and birdseed and soap and you-know-what.

Yep, seems that during my first pass through the produce section, I started filling up someone else’s cart midstream — someone who had also purchased bananas and peaches (actually nectarines I think) and maybe green onions.

Oh no. How stupid.

I remember almost doing that when I was putting food in the cart, but I caught myself and found the right cart, my cart, instead. (I even looked around to see if anyone noticed me almost taking their cart.) I guess the next time around I did it again, without catching myself.

So, here I am, in the very front of the store in the main aisle, trying to quickly transfer all the stuff from my original cart to the stolen cart, and putting the stolen items back in my original cart. Seriously, there were only a half-dozen items. How I took that cart, without giant bags of birdseed and an 8-pack of soap in it, I’ll never know. Must have been the bananas and peaches in the basket that threw me off.

I can just imagine the poor woman who came looking for her cart, cantaloupe in hand, and it’s nowhere to be found. I can imagine her swearing as she had to go fetch a new cart and start over, picking out new bananas and nectarines and green onions. Stupid idiots everywhere, she thought.

I sheepishly ditched her cart back in front of the nectarines and made my way to the checkout. I should have just put that food back in the right place, as there was no way anyone was going to retrieve it. But I was tired and embarrassed and didn’t even at least do the right thing in the end. Double-whammy bad.

And then later, as I was unloading at home, it occurred to me that the store likely had it all on tape. Walmart is full of cameras, so I’m sure my whole escapade is documented, from when I initially picked up the wrong cart to the big switcharoo in the front of the store to ditching the stolen cart near the scene of the crime. (Maybe I should check YouTube.)

(Oh, and the other ironic thing about all this — Mike will never leave our cart anywhere in any store. He sticks to it like glue — as if, like, someone would actually take it or something. I’m always jagging him about that. Yeah, like someone’s gonna take our cart. Uhhhh…woops, honey?)

Anyway, if you get one of those People of Walmart e-mails and I’m in it, sadly, it’s true. (Sorry, nice lady whose cart I stole.)

You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.
~ Colette

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No thanks, just looking

Ninety-nine percent of the time, that’s the answer I give — and hear others give — when a salesperson approaches and says, “Can I help you?”

I know it’s part of their job to ask, but I find the whole interaction so painful I go out of my way to avoid being approached. Even in stores that have switched to simply greeting customers — “Hi, how are you today?” — I find myself almost blurting out a curt, “Thanks, I’m just looking (i.e., Leave me alone!)” out of habit.

I think one of the reasons is that I (like most women) consider myself a professional shopper. With more than 30 years of shopping under my belt, I certainly don’t need help browsing through clothing racks or strolling through the furniture store or picking out a kitchen gadget.

And really, I doubt you are prepared to point me toward the perfect size 4 jeans (even though I wear a size 6 or 8), on sale, that don’t make my butt look big and aren’t 5 inches too long.

That said, I do like seeing the (usually older) greeter at Walmart and saying “hi.” (Maybe because I increasingly think that could be me someday.) But I’ve been taken aback by the new designated greeter who’s appeared at Lowe’s over the last few months.

By my calculation, I’ve been at Lowe’s or Home Depot an average of once a week for the last 10 years. Seriously — over 500 visits. The rare week I don’t visit is more than made up by the weeks I’m there multiple times. It’s been a real shock to my system to go charging in the store, fully “on task,” only to be met by a cheerful, blue-vested soul asking, “Hi, what can I help you find today?”

Huh? What? Don’t bother me, I’m on a mission. (And I probably know where most things are in this store as well as you.)

It’s a silly thing, but one I’ve noticed. Standing in line yesterday at the Returns desk, I had a bird’s-eye view of the greeter du jour. Nearly everyone she greeted had the same reaction I have — taken aback, not knowing what to say, rushing by with a wave of the hand and “I know where I’m going” reply.

Even funnier are the times when you escape being greeted upon entry, and then walk past the greeter 20 minutes later and he/she asks, “Hi, how can I help you today?” I’m often tempted to say, “Uh, could you open up another checkout line since I’m ready to buy this cart full of stuff?”

I know Lowe’s is trying to be friendly and help customers who really do feel overwhelmed in their big stores. I get that. Maybe it’s just that after 500 or so visits, I think they should know me already. That some special “Lowe’s Pro” sign should light up when I enter and the greeter should just smile at me with a knowing wink… Now that’s something that would make me feel special. (After all, I can rattle off the last 4 digits of my Lowe’s credit card to the cashier as easily as I punch in my debit card PIN.)

In the meantime, I’ll be the one you see feigning blindness and scurrying away from any and all “associates” who are desperately trying to help me.

I love to go shopping. I love to freak out salespeople.
They ask me if they can help me, and I say, “Have you got anything I’d like?”
Then they ask me what size I need, and I say, “Extra medium.”
~ Steven Wright