today i went to wal-mart.
much as it pains me to admit it.
so it serves me right.
the place is under renovation and it's huge.
make that HUGE.
now i know wal-mart already owns most of the free world and has put the rest of the competition out of business, which, in itself, makes me hate them enough to stay away.
and i realize they don't care whether I shop there.
my measly contribution is not even a drop in their immense bucket.
BUT i am NOT.
going to shop there ever again.
i made my mind up about that today.
it feels quite freeing now that i've made the decision.
we went to enlarge some photos of her great grandchildren for great nanny noo noo who returns to england next week after a xmas visit with us.
enlarged the 3x5's to 6x8's.
only to find that wallymart doesnt sell frames to fit that size pic.
they had 5x7 or 8x10 frames.
i thought i'd try putting a mat over top of the 6x8 to see how they would look in a frame with a 5x7 opening, if you follow?
endless hunt around the store.
did i mention it's HUGE?
only to be sent on wild goose chases by staff who know less than me about where their stock is.
or what it is.
or, indeed, what it's for.
found out they don't sell photo mats now.
apparently, 'nobody wants them anymore.'
apart from me that is.
me: the only one in the world who wants to buy photo mats.
clerk was unable to answer my nice and polite enquiry as to why they MAKE 6x8 photos when they don't, in point of fact, SELL the frames to fit the said photos.
went back to the photo dept to pick up another pic i'd had enlarged.
it was a nice pic of my little grandson.
the child with the blond hair.
and the lovely smile.
to discover they had decapitated most of it.
his blond-haired head that is.
clerk tried to slide the pic into a large envelope without me seeing it.
i'd made the mistake of paying for it first.
i saw it.
i drew her attention to the top of or, to be more accurate, the lack of a top, on my little grandson's blond-haired head.
she said, by way of explanation,
'this is what happens when you enlarge portrait pictures.'
followed promptly with, as she thrust it towards me,
'if you don't like it, take it to customer service and get your money back. i don't do that here.'
keep in mind, i'd had to wander aimlessly around the store for an hour until the bloody picture was developed in the first place.
did i now feel like joining a massive line up for a $2.57 refund?
during that hour i'd gone on a hunt for adult games.
try to get your mind out of the gutter.
not THOSE kind of adult games.
i mean the kind that adults play at parties.
not THOSE kind of parties.
the kind where you answer trivia questions before the timer runs out, or guess the mime, or draw a picture to illustrate a phrase, all before the buzzer goes.
THAT kind of game.
we had a party last week and played those kind of games, and it was a lot of fun.
we do have very dull lives compared to yours i'm certain.
so i was on the hunt for one of the games we played, which a friend had brought to the party.
i looked in the toys/games section.
seemed like an obvious place to look.
only children's games.
went in search of a clerk.
do i never learn?
"Hi! where do you keep your adult games?"
"not THOSE kind of games."
lightbulb went on.
"oh yeah like trivial pursuit, like monopoly and like all that stuff?"
'"yes, sort of."
"over in the toys/games section".
"no. you don't."
"yes we do."
"no. you don't. i just spent 10 minutes over there and you only have children's games."
a light bulb glowed dimly.
'toys r us?'
i wasn't sensing promotion in this kid's future..
but in hindsight,
managerial material for sure.
after i picked up the pics we made our way to the check out.
there are now 31 checkouts in this wallymart.
inevitably, only 6 were open.
necessitating massive lines of unhappy shoppers and dangerous carts.
there was an express line.
i had six items.
so i went to express.
fool that i am.
NOW i know.
in wallymart express does not mean express in the true sense of the word.
it actually means, "stand over here and shut up. we'll get to you eventually. in our own sweet time, not yours!"
i joined the end of a queue which snaked around those cattle herding barrier things.
which i HATE.
WE know how to form a queue without the aid of barriers.
WE invented queuing for god's sake.
WE are famous, amongst other important things, for queuing.
there were 3 check outs open in the express lanes.
it took me 10 minutes to get 'expressed.'
my blood pressure rose a little with every minute.
'did you find everything you were looking for?'
the clerk, who is programmed to do so, enquired, as she rang up my purchases.
as i'd heard her ask every customer ahead of me.
and she didn't see it coming.
'actually no.' i responded.
'just the opposite."
"in fact." i explained, " the whole wal-mart shopping experience has been an exercise in futility and one which i hope NEVER to have to repeat.'
"cash or debit?"
as she packed my items into a plastic carrier bag.
the lid came off.
"DO NOT!" i think i hissed. 'put my items into a walmart carrier bag! i have my own bag. i am certainly not going to promote or do FREE advertizing for THIS store.'
great nanny noo noo had made a bit of distance between myself at the till, and herself, at the end of the check out line where she waited for me to complete my transactions.
she looked around, anxiously, to see if anyone had noticed the mad woman at checkout 3.
as in, ME.
and one more thing.
so i'll finish.
in october i went to another large chain store.
i'm not going to name them.
okay, who cares?
they are called l
i bought a coat.
it cost me $200.
it was black wool and long, below the knee.
just what i wanted.
and, hopefully, sophisticated.
i wore it last week for the first time.
and therein lay my mistake.
as i walked along the street feeling smart and hoping that i looked it, i heard a 'ping'.
followed by another 'ping.'
i saw 2 buttons rolling along the sidewalk.
in 2 different directions.
both of them away from me.
i only caught one.
the other went down a grating or maybe a sewer.
i couldn't see it.
the wind was whipping my hair into my eyes but my hands were clutching my billowing coat shut.
against the icy wind.
as i arrived at my appointment i no longer looked like the confident, well dressed woman i had hoped to portray.
i looked the opposite of this to be frank.
the coat now seemed to be a sort of magnet for attracting lint.
all over me.
i resembled a walking lint roller.
i looked like a woman who had taken a shabby coat from a homeless person as an act of kindness.
to save them the embarrassment of looking dishevelled.
that afternoon i took the coat back to the store.
whereupon i was informed 10 days had passed, (long passed) since i made the purchase.
and after 10 days i was, to put it in the words of the small print on the back of the receipt,
that i had only worn the garment 1X since i purchased it didn't make a jot of difference to the clerk who waited on me, or the clerk's pit boss/customer service manager when consulted, or the manager of the coat dept who added her two-pennorth, or the manager of the store who was subsequently called in to confirm their policy.
which, it would appear, i seemed to be unable to grasp.
only a store credit.
with tax i had approx. $225 of a store credit.
i went to look for another coat.
the only coat(s) in stock were the same as the one i had just returned.
once bitten etc.
i felt dejected.
i was about to leave.
but i just couldn't do it.
i only wanted what i paid for after all.
a nice coat.
i returned to the clerk and explained my predicament.
'i have $225 to spend in your store. but i want a coat. and you don't have a coat that i can buy.'
"you can spend it on anything you want." she said.
'but i only WANT a coat. i only NEED a coat. i don't need/want $225 worth of your stock. alas."
the 'alas' to illustrate my willingness to compromise, to show her how reasonable i was trying to be.
enter clerk #2, beady eyed, slightly annoyed look of 'oh it's YOU! again."
clerk #2 explained the store's policy; this time in a louder voice, with more than a hint of impatience.
nay, downright snooty intolerance.
with a dash of condescension.
i held my ground.
in spite of internal combustion which threatened to erupt.
i did not show my true colours.
(my mother would have been so proud.)
enter clerk's boss/customer service manager, and then dept. manager again.
exchange of knowing looks between the 3 and another reiteration of the store's policy on refunds.
enter the manager.
prepared to wrap me up and dispatch me quickly, troublesome woman that i was.
i explained my position.
to wit: the coat i had originally bought was not satisfactory.
not worth the money i had paid for it as anyone could now so obviously see.
it lay across the counter looking like a bedraggled rag.
therefore, they, as in the store, had fallen down on their end of the deal.
my part of the deal was to pay for a coat that would,
a) look good; as in look like it was worth $200. and
b) not fire buttons in all directions into the street and into sewers or at passing pedestrians as i walked downtown and
3) not make me look like a walking lint roller.
a large sigh.
and a hand.
in front of my face.
as in "STOP!"
i retained my poise, tho it took every shred of my being to do so.
i knew what was coming.
store manager to clerks #1, #2, customer service manager, and dept manager.
with another sigh of resigned disgust.
as she threw, yes threw, the gift card for the store credit of $225 on the counter and walked away.
'give her a refund.'
she might as well have shouted,
'take your money back and get out of our store NOW. and never darken our doors again. you dissatisfied customer you. you person who expects satisfaction or desires to get what you paid for. you damned NUISANCE. get out. and stop bothering us. we have customers to er serve. well not serve actually. but to sell things to. GET OUT!"
does it have to be this way?
why do i have to get angry when i go shopping?
i'm just not going anymore.
it'll be easier all round.
on a lighter note.
and just in case you've read this far.
(and if so, i thank you for indulging me.)
i'm not sure if i could have returned the favour if this was YOUR story.
my new year's resolution, or one of them, among a thousand other much needed self-improvement resolutions, is to lighten up.
it's not before time.
lest you think i am always in a bad mood.
because, of course, i'm not really.
not ALL of the time.
so as i said, on a lighter note.
great nanny noo noo bought herself a pair of track pants. or yoga pants, or jogging pants, last week.
whatever you want to call them, they may seem a little at odds with your picture of my 86 year old mother in law.
sweet old lady and all that.
she thinks they're comfy and that they're great for wearing when she's doing the housework.
(which she can do faster and more thoroughly than you or i AND most able bodied people of 1/2 her age, to be truthful.)
in walmart, during the hour we had to wander aimlessly around while they cut the head off the enlarged photo of my poor grandchild with the blond hair, she went in search of a 'gentleman' to help her find another pair of the said jogging pants.
honestly, that's what she calls sales clerks.
doesn't matter how spotty or monosyllabic they are.
in her mind, sales clerks are all "gentlemen"!
and female sales clerks, she always addresses thus: "excuse me, Miss."
and when she retells what THEY said to HER, they've always addressed her as "Madam".
in your dreams.
a throw back to a long defunct golden age?
she must be shopping at Harrods.
not bloody wallymart.
where was i?
"i wonder if they have any?" she mused, as she looked through the racks.
"what are you looking for?" asked a spotty kid with time on his hands.
she thought for a moment, searching for the right word, which i know, often escapes her just when she needs it most.
'jodhpurs?' she blurted.
just as i fell over the rack spluttering and gagging.
i know, if i don't lighten up, i'll certainly never live that long.
thanks for reading.