Spring Fever

February 10, 2008 at 5:00 pm (On the road again...)

No matter how much I brace for the experience, I can’t get out of Wal-Mart fast enough.

It’s been springlike, with warm weather and big scary clouds in the distance. The rain has been scarce, and the call of the outdoors beckoned. I’ve been stuck inside too much lately, so with a partial tax refund and a payday under my belt, it seemed only right that I venture forth.

Sunday buses… I have to walk half a mile to the bus stop, transfer, then walk another quarter-mile to Wal-Mart. I knew I’d be pissy after five minutes in Wal-Mart, so I planned ahead. I stopped at Starbucks and bought a double mocha latte. Now I’ll have a $5 cup of coffee to bitch about instead of Wal-Mart, right? I haven’t been to Starbucks since I was stuck in the Phoenix airport during the week of 9/11. I spent $10 on two coffee milkshakes during the 12-hour flight delay. I swore never again, but I can’t hold a grudge forever. It wasn’t hot, wasn’t very chocolaty, but it had caffeine, so I slugged it down. I’m ready for Wal-Mart.

No, I’m not. Everyone is dressed for the February weather. I have my hoody and utility vest on, but am otherwise normally dressed and comfortable for outdoors. Someone, in their infinite Wal-Mart wisdom, decided it was cold inside the store and had the heat fired up. It must haven been 90 degrees!

I browsed the clothing section, grabbed a bag of socks, ($4) and could stand it no more. Unless I were to remove all my outer gear and throw it in a shopping cart, I was gonna melt right there. In the vernacular of the neighborhood, fuck that! I’ll grab my stuff and make a quick exit.

I went to the razor blade display. In the past I’ve waited upwards of 30 minutes for an ‘associate’ to come with a set of keys to get my selection. I stood around for a couple of minutes, then realized I should make sure they had my brand. The display was full, except for one row. You guessed it. The standard double-edged razor blades ($1.54) were out. No heartbreak there; I’ve still got about 15 blades at home. An excuse to move on!

Ibuprofen, 500 count. ($7.22.) Score! Usually there is one bottle left, and it’s strategically hidden among the expensive brands. Not so today. It was a simple, easy grab. I went over two aisles, grabbed a large bottle of Gold Bond Body Powder ($3.77) and made a hasty retreat.

On my trip throughout the store, I kept encountering a family of three. Grandma, mom and 4-year-old boy. No big deal, but they seemed to need to be right in front of me at all times. As I beat feet toward the ’12 Items or Less’ aisle I saw grandma jump into line, just as I got there. No big deal, she’s got about twelve items. She plunks them down, and the cashier starts ringing. As the cashier finished the transaction, Grandma reaches down by the 4-year-old and picks up another shopping basket, and puts down another twelve items. Grr…

I look at my three items, look at her, and seethe ever so slightly. God-DAMN  it’s hot in here…

Grandma pays for the second pile of stuff, and just as she finished, here comes daughter with another armload of stuff. She pushes my three items back, and they continue to monopolize the line. I looked behind, and now there were twenty people behind me. And they didn’t look as patient as I…

Sweat  beaded on my forehead, rolled down my back. I began to swoon from the need for fresh air. Finally the three generations of line-cloggers moved out of the way, and I had my stuff in about half a minute. Outside never felt so good.

The bus ride down 82nd wasn’t as bad as usual, but it was still daylight. It only took three hours to visit two stores about a mile from my house. I’d considered going to the movies today, but I think I’ll take advantage of the home theater system and have a quiet night in. It’s not like I didn’t get exercise today.

Does working up a sweat standing still get me bonus points?

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