Wednesday, May 27


Is there a difference between Wal-Mart and Target? You-betcha.
Here is something that I’ve never seen at Target: A hoopty van with tinted windows containing a child of indeterminable age, but definitely too young to be left alone in a vehicle, screaming “Mommy” at the top of her lungs, pounding on the back window. Another thing that I’ve never seen at Target? A car packed with people, including a couple of toddlers and a baby in a car seat, pulling into a handicapped spot with every single adult in the car smoking. Except of course the kids, but give them a year or two.
Socioeconomics aside, I always have a completely different shopping experience at Target than I do at Wal-Mart. The major difference being at Target I hear phrases like "can I help you?" from the employees and "excuse me" from other customers. That being said, here is my favorite Wal-Mart experience of all time. I am pretty sure that it sums up all Wal-Mart experiences, but this one is a doosy.

They use to carry this supplement for dogs that really helped Rory with his hip (he's a Basset Hound and well, you know how hot-dog dogs can get with their tiny legs). Anyway, they seemed to be out, but before I left empty-handed I wanted to double check. I decided to ask an "associate," and I use that word loosely, for help. My husband shook his head at me and said "what are you doing? You're just going to waste your time and frustrate yourself." But, no I wanted to know for sure, because damn it, this was the only place that carried it.

I carried with me the cat version as a visual aid to illustrate my question. I made my approach to a kid a couple of isles over. "Excuse me," I said. "I am looking for this product (I held up my box of cat vitamins) except for dogs." I got a blank stare and a long pause. Finally, he said "that's for cats."

Mark just smiled and walked off, but I was determined to get through to Corky."Yes, I know. You guys carry the same product for dogs, but you're out. I was wondering if you could check and see if there is any in the back." He squinted at the box and again pronounced "but that's for cats."

I decided the next, best course of action was to ditch my visual aid and take him directly to the source. We walked back to the display of pet supplements and I again showed him that they had everything else, but would he mind checking to see if they had the one for dogs?

I swear to God, he looked at me, and for a moment I flashed to that scene in Fire in the Sky where the aliens stare blankly at D.B. Sweeney as they torture him. He gestured to the display case, pointed to the cat supplements in my hand and said "we have that one." I suppressed both a smile and my rage and through gritted teeth said, "yes, I know." I again repeated my request for a back stock search of the dog version.

Then, it came. The classic Wal-Mart response: "Well, that's not my department. But, I'll go and check for you." I was pretty sure that he said that to both shut me up and to distract me. By that point I really didn't care, but his tactic worked. I was stunned. As he walked off, confusion set in. Mark walked up to me and asked "where did he go?" when I dreamily replied, "he went to check for me." Mark looked off in the direction he'd left and said, "well that's weird." Weird, indeed.

As he walked back to us, he had a look of complete satisfaction on his face. I imagine it was the same one he wore the day he got his G.E.D. He was breathless, a little flushed and extremely proud of himself. His hands were noticeably empty of anything for dogs, but he did give me the box of cat vitamins back. "OK. I went back there. Like I said, this isn't my department, but I did look and I couldn't find anything."

I looked at him and looked at my husband, not really sure what to make of the situation. His expression totally didn't match the words coming out of his mouth so I was understandably perplexed. I kept waiting for the "Ta-Da!" and a box of dog vitamins to appear from behind his back. But it never happened. He just stood there looking at us, looking back at him. I think that time stood still.

I didn't want to beat a dead horse, but by this time it was a fucking grudge match. Me v. Dipshit Wal-Mart Employee, and he was winning. I said, "so you do not have any dog supplements?" He looked at me and said, "well, we may or may not have any." Then pointing at the box in my hand "I know we have this one. It's the one for cats."

At this point, Mark completely abandoned me to laugh in the next isle. I realized that the contest was over and the Dipshit had emerged victorious. I quietly bowed my head and thanked the young man, wishing him luck on life's long journey. Because, let's be honest, he's gonna need it.

By the way, we just switched to organic dog food and don't bother with the vitamins anymore. Also, I decided to just suck it up and pay a little more, drive a little further and go to Target. It's not Nordstrom's, but I don't feel like I've stepped into the Hillbilly Twilight Zone every time my front tires hit the parking lot.
I'm not saying all who shop at Wal-Mart are idiots, but all idiots shop at Wal-Mart.