I decided to drop by Walmart on the way home from the gym and pick up a couple of bags of pine bark mulch; take advantage of the warm weather to do some yard work. Here is what happened.
1. I cruise past Walmart’s outdoor pickup spot where they stack stuff like mulch and fertilizer and grass seed and like that to make sure they had pine bark mulch. Yes!
2. I park the car and walk to the Lawn and Garden entrance. Signs all over the door: “Closed for the Season. Please Use the Indoor Store.”
3. I think for a moment. They have the product; I have money. Can I somehow effect a melding of the two, despite Lawn and Garden being Closed for the Season? I decide to try.
3. I walk allll the way to the next entrance, and allll the way to Customer Service. A tired fat clerk observes me with minimal interest and says, “Hep ya.” I say, “I see that your Lawn and Garden section is closed for the season. I would like to know if it is possible to buy a product from there, or are the Lawn and Garden products also not available?” She ponders this for awhile and says, “EYE dunno,” as though it were the height of unreason to expect her to know such an exotic thing. I look pointedly at the Customer Service sign and say, “Is there some way I can find out?” She heaves a deep despairing sigh and looks to the clerk next to her, who says, “Sure. Just go and get what you want and bring it to one of the registers out here.” I say, but the doors are locked. She says the door leading to Lawn and Garden from inside the store is open. Not wishing to overcomplicate an already fraught mission by pointing out that if the products are available and if the inside door is unlocked, that means the Lawn and Garden Department is in fact *not* Closed for the Season, I say, but what I want is pine bark mulch, and I can’t lift the bags into the cart. She says to go on down there and she’s sure somebody will help me. This doesn’t sound promising.
4. I walk out into the store proper and spy a trio of Walmart employees putting small objects into a big bin. I go over and do the spiel. One of them, thank God, is a manager. She explains that while Lawn and Garden is closed, if I can find an associate who is “register trained”, that person will open the register for me. This doesn’t address getting the pine bark mulch into my cart — never mind the car, at this point, getting the mulch into my car is a goal more distant than Jupiter — but I figure I’ve mined this latest venue all I’m going to.
5. I walk allll the way back to the Lawn and Garden inside door and find an associate who, upon interrogation, confesses she is not register trained, and furthermore, the registers in Lawn and Garden are closed and can’t be opened.
6. I feel my Inner Child preparing to hurl herself to the ground and hold her breath until she turns blue.
7. The associate suggests that I pick out my product and take it — “To the indoor register, I know,” I say, and I explain about the heavy lifting. There is a young male Walmart employee standing by, listening to all this. He volunteers to deliver the pine bark mulch to my car. She says I should go to an inside register without the mulch and have them ring it up and then come back here and Nathan here will have it ready to load into my car. I say, “When I’ve bought pine bark mulch here in the past, the outdoor registers have this price/UPC book with all the hundred different products in it. Do you think all the indoor registers will have this book, since the Lawn and Garden Department is closed?” She says, no, she didn’t think so. “So how do I pay for it?” I ask. My voice is reaching for the upper registers that presage a psychotic fit.
8. Nathan offers to make me up a ticket with his pricing gizmo that I can use to pay for the mulch. He does so, I hike allll the way back to the indoor register and stand in line for ten minutes and hand the ticket to the cashier and say, “Ring this up twice, please.” She says, “You want me to ring this up twice?” I fix her a murderous look and say, “Yes. Twice.” Figuring if I say, No, just twice will be fine, what few brain cells she possesses would fry on the spot and fly out of her ears like bonfire soot.
9. I schlep allll the way back to Lawn and Garden, where Nathan has already loaded the pine bark mulch onto his little cart and is waiting for me to take us all to my car, which I do. Nobody asks me for a receipt. I thank Nathan and try to give him a package of Twinkies I’d snagged at the time of purchase as a gesture of appreciation for his initiative and his muscles, but he says he’s not allowed to accept it. I tell him, “Stick with Walmart, my boy. Someday you’ll own it.”
10. I fall into the driver’s seat and bang my head on the steering wheel and eat a Twinkie.
On one of my treks to and from, I passed a huge display of package of toilet paper — 6 single-ply rolls, 6 double-ply rolls, 9 single-ply rolls, 9 double-ply rolls, 12 single-ply rolls, 12 double-ply rolls. A man is standing in front of it wailing into his cell, “But HUNNEEE, there are so many different KIIINNDS …” I kept walking to spare him the humiliation of a witness to his bursting into tears.
When the Revolution finally happens, when destruction rages across the land, when the American towers of Ilium fall and the cities are engulfed in inferno and millions die and the earth is scorched from sea to sea, left sere and barren for years to come, it won’t be because of any organized rebellion by such as we. It will be because one poor underpaid schmuck, after a lifetime of being conned into working at a job he hates in order to buy stupid shit in giant understaffed and heartless emporia with the few dollars left to him by a far more heartless government, will find himself standing defeated before a double cord of toilet paper and the realization of a life thus wasted after so much promise, so much hope, will hit him like an anvil, and his brain will snap and he will rampage through Lawn and Garden, Pets, Paint and Hardware and end up in Sports where he will pick up a baseball bat and start smashing skulls. A riot will ensue, police will come, sirens will fill the night, Walmart will burn, and it will all cascade into an unstoppable avalanche of unthinking rage over the entire landscape.
All for the want of a lousy roll of toilet paper.