I had stretched my budget to the limit at the end of this month, and wasn’t sure when my check would go in, but assumed I’d be spending Thanksgiving eating an avocado pocket sandwich, rather than something with turkey in it, to at least commemorate the holiday. But then, my check went in early, and I thought. “Hey, I should go buy some kind of turkey dinner now.”
Safeway, closed. King Soopers, closed. Target, closed.
I even passed a Gentleman’s club, which was open. Because, you know, on Thanksgiving, it’s important to have access to strippers.
Sighing, I drove a little past all that and at a light on Dayton, I saw a huge line of cars in the turn lane, and realized that was the direction of Walmart. Ah, good ole Walmart, always open (though always also, these days, under siege for some of their business decisions….still, taste buds wanting commemorative turkey don’t care.)
So I took the next street over to the back and came around toward the parking lot.
What I saw was shocking. The parking lot looked like the area outside an Eagles reunion concert. Lines of cars, jam-packed parking spaces, and I promptly got behind all the wrong people and had to wait. I watched shoppers carrying large boxes through the lot, pushing baskets filled with big boxes, smiling vaguely, and then waited in line behind two guys in a van who were loading FOUR big TVs in their back hatch. I wondered if maybe the front window of Walmart had broken, and everyone was looting. But oh, there was a sale. The Black Friday sale. Except, it wasn’t Black Friday, it was Thursday. So who knew? I guess it was sort of Charcoal Thursday.
Apparently there was this insanely generous sale on things like 32″ TV’s for $98. I almost wished I needed a TV. But I still would not have participated in this debacle. I have made it my steadfast policy to never, ever, under any circumstances, participate in traditional shopping days. For an HSP this situation is like being in the 9th ring of Hell (see other entries on that keyword, if you don’t know what it is). Huge crowds, chaos, a sense of desperation, bright lights, noise, constant invasion of personal space, waiting in long lines, not being able to find a parking space, blocked off areas of the store, etc….sensory overload and a half. So I avoid holiday shopping like a flesh-eating bacteria.
First of all, there were no shopping carts in the store. All were being used, and guarded as if the Holy Grail were inside. And I can’t remember the last time I had to wait in line at the entrance to a food aisle. It was a human traffic jam. Complete with entire families huddled around carts. I thought, Why do people bring all their children to something like this? Toddlers hung off the sides of the carts, sat on the floor, blocked the thoroughfares, and screamed and reached for things while announcing their overwhelming desire for the item while parents shrieked back, “NO! I said No! Put that back!”
Then there were the home-girls on their cell phones, speaking in ear-splitting decibels to someone, saying things like “Girl shoo! I tol’ you day have long lines! you should get yo nappy ass down here and get in line too, doe, cuz I ain’t got no way to carry all dis shit out dis doe’.”
In the meat section, a fight broke out in front of the Chicken Tenders. No tenderness to be found there…Seems someone believed that the last TV belonged to them, and the other guy begged to differ. Really? I mean REALLY? It wasn’t like that TV would win the Hundred Years War. It wasn’t even as if that TV would feed his starving family. I hoped they both knocked each other out cold. But then the next person in line would probably step over their bodies and start another fight. I removed myself from that area as soon as possible.
Having snagged the only thing closest to Thanksgiving food I could find–a frozen Stouffer’s Turkey dinner, I rounded onto the produce aisle for some fresh veggies. But the whole area had been cordoned off, display racks crammed together as if produce had been banned. This was to make room for all the cardboard casings of $1.98 DVD’s.
I tried to duck under the tape, when a Walmartian stopped me. “You can’t come in here.”
“What?” Surely, I had not heard him correctly.
“This area is closed,” he explained.
“Well the store is open, and this is part of the store, so why can’t I buy vegetables? That makes no sense.” Just can’t,” he explained, unhelpfully. “It’s because of the sales.”
I could understand if that was crime scene tape, but the only crimes here were fisticuffs over merchandise. I stood there, blinking, not understanding the rationale at all. “Well, perhaps you should go get a manager so I can have this conversation with them.”
He fetched a manager, and I explained the situation, and added, “Since when is sale merchandise more important than a person buying FOOD?”
He must have found my argument compelling, because he not only allowed me behind the tape, but said he’d guard my cart. (Apparently, there was some chance my cart might be pillaged. Or burned.)
I got my veggies and returned to my guarded cart, thanked the manager and was on my way. As I looked toward the checkout stands, I wondered if those lines meant I’d be pitching a tent and starting a campfire. But, weirdly, I found a line with only one person ahead of me. It seems they had made a good decision having the sale items being sold at the clumped together location of the product offered, which were on pallets.
The guy at the checkout became hyperfocused on another fistfight we heard breaking out by the Keurig Brewing System sale pallets. I’m standing there, my purchases waiting on the conveyor belt, and finally I had to say. “Um…can you check me out, now, please?”
He came back to his sense and began scanning while I tried not to roll my eyes.
Outside I walked the seventy-two miles to where I had to park my van, and as I waited in the queue to exit the lot, had to stop at the crosswalks (because they frown on hit-and-run) for more people to cross than McDonald’s had served that day. One guy even stopped in the middle of the crosswalk and TIED HIS SHOE. Seriously. I almost pulled forward and nudged him with my bumper, but didn’t want to allow myself to escalate into the barbarism with all the other heathens. So I took a breath and as he continued on tossing me a smug glance, I said out the window, “Really?” He just shrugged and kept going. I hoped his 32″ TV exploded when he got home and turned it on.
When I made it out to the light on Hampden, I was so disoriented, I wasn’t sure which direction I was supposed to go to get home, because I don’t have my GPS service yet, and I am one of those people who are directionally challenged. Inevitably, I went the wrong way, and had to turn around and go all the way back. When I finally parked at the hotel, I was anxious to just sit down and eat. I entertained the fantasy of not even leaving this room for the next three days. Sometimes it takes me that long to recover.