The Wal-mart Trip From Hell

Or is that redundant?

The pre-con trip to Wal-mart is always exhausting. Partially because I'm allergic to Wal-mart, but cannot avoid it completely. Partially because I'm constantly trying to find ways to feed us on the road without breaking the bank, which is not easy when all three of us are traveling. Jimmy and I can subsist on one meal and a few add-ons a day; Boy requires vast quantities of food. And we are stony broke this week.

First, household goods. A bike lock, a new flashlight, toothpaste and deodorant. Boy was nonspecific as to his deodorant needs, and lately he's been using Old Spice, which smells just as awful as you remember. But of course, he was home alone and therefore blaring music throughout the house, so he did not respond to multiple (and increasingly capslocked) texts requesting clarification of his demands.

As usual, I had texted my Menfolk for their last-minute additions. Oh, I could be the hard-ass and insist they only get what they physically wrote on the list. But I hate going to Wal-mart, I try to darken its door no more than twice a month, and I am not doing a repeat visit just because one of them forgot to tell me something Really Important.

Jimmy requested Sensodyne toothpaste. Upon acquiring it, I texted him, "I've never loved a man enough to buy him $5 toothpaste." Naturally he called me.

JIMMY: You don't have to get the real thing. Buy the generic.
ME: Darling. Do you think I'd be buying the real thing if there was a generic?
JIMMY: Equate or whatever.
ME: Nope. There's, like, Aquafresh Sensitive and stuff -
JIMMY: Get that.
ME: Okay. If you want. If it doesn't work, we'll use it and I'll *urk* come back for the Sensodyne.
JIMMY: *sniffles*
ME: What.
JIMMY: You... would buy me the $5 toothpaste.
ME: Ye-es?
JIMMY: *sniffles* You love me.
ME: Honey, you need to go lie down or something. Maybe bang your head on something hard, because you're losing it.
JIMMY: *sniffles*

Sometimes that man confounds me.

Boy finally replied to my texts, as I wove in and out of the aisles. The stockboys were piling boxes of stuff in every aisle, requiring me to go halfway across the store just to cross from paper goods to grocery. They were constructing the Great Wall of Peas along every open space. I yelled at Boy for a bit, and finally escaped to the booze aisle.

What. It's con. Author cocktail party. With a LitUnd Author's new release to celebrate. Also, the LitUnd Traveling Bar is out of rum. Y'all drank like fish at Midsouthcon. More text conference with Jimmy and my compatriots, and I had finally acquired the necessary booze, relevant snack foods to keep the menfolk from chewing my car's upholstery on the road, and supplies.

It had been two hours. Sigh. My dogs were barking and my back hurt, so I was glad there were only two people in front of me on the only operational register. Of course, it turned out the lady in front of me wanted to argue the price on every third item in her cart, then proved completely inept at the keypad, but that's par for the course.

Finally, the nice young cashier was checking me out... and the printer jammed. No receipt. And wouldn't you know it; I actually need that receipt. Con expenses are tax deductible, and I needed an itemized receipt to separate con stuff from the damn toothpaste.

Two workers and a manager could not get Humpty the Printer un-jammed. So the manager took me to customer service, where she tried three times to print my receipt and then sent it to another printer, which also jammed.

That was all my feet could handle. Knives were stabbing through the soles of my feet, so I found a bench and waited, sending snarky texts to Jimmy.

ME: Save me I'm still in Walmart.
JIMMY: You're doomed.
ME: 2.5 hours and counting.
JIMMY: Doooooomed.
ME: Rescue me my big string hero.
JIMMY: String.
ME: I'm too exhausted to SPELL.
JIMMY: Ohhh. (silly picture of a heart)
ME: Sappy. Don't make me throw toothpaste at you. (What was that about?)
JIMMY: Just realized how much you mean to me at that moment. I would be so lost without you.
ME: Very sappy.

Finally, Paris the Manager arrived, apologetic as hell and gave me a dot-matrix printout of my receipt. Been a long time since I saw one of the those.

And so, I escaped Wal-mart at 10:45 p.m., approximately 165 minutes (or one Lord of the Rings extended cut) after arriving. I don't think this experience has cured my allergy to Wal-mart. In fact, I think it may have been the equivalent of an allergy sensitization. The hives will show up any moment.