Good afternoon America! It has been a few weeks. I’m not proud of that but I fully plan to use the “I’ve been really busy with the Christmas season” excuse for my transgressions against prompt and timely publications.
We had a grand time in Kansas and Missouri over Thanksgiving. We were able to see family, visit our favorite amusement park, and had a delightful traditional fajita dinner. So maybe less traditional and more that I didn’t want to try and cook a turkey in our condo. We enjoyed the meal and especially enjoyed the abbreviated clean up process that single pan cooking afforded us. Perhaps the owners of the condo will appreciate the odor of cooked onions and fajita seasoning that permeated every surface slightly less, but nonetheless we enjoyed it. Irregardless, now cometh the latest and greatest edition of the Diatribe!
Like any good redneck fairytale I begin this little story in the same manner of the traditional days of yore: “So, there I was…”
The Muffin, The Boy, and The Boo Bear waited in the old family truckster as I bravely ventured in to a southern Missouri Wal-Mart. It was Thanksgiving morning and the parking lot was burgeoning at the seams. We ended up parking so far away that the blue glow of the house that Mr. Walton built was but a faint glimmer on the horizon. I was slightly fatigued by the time I finally made it to the front doors. Thankfully there were aid stations along the way of my long trek so I could hydrate and take on nourishment.
With more than I slight amount of trepidation I bravely entered the store. I was quickly swallowed by the mass of humanity that was frantically buzzing about. They must have been lured by the sweet siren song of the discounts that the shopping season promises. The blank looks on their faces told me all I needed to know: do not get in their way or they will hit me with a well placed hip check.
OK, I have to admit a slight embellishment. Perhaps I didn’t have to park in another time zone, and there were no aid stations along the way of my arduous trek to the front doors, but I swear on all that is holy that the following is absolutely true.
I had seen this lady who was a clear candidate for the People of Wal-Mart website walking around the grocery half of the store talking to herself. Folks, she was walking with purpose. Her stubby little legs were just a blur, and she was cussing up a streak. She put me and my creative use of the English language to shame. I came across her in the beverage aisle, and that was where things took a turn for the worse.
She was trying to buy the store out of bottled water, and they did not have the quantity that she was after. As she became more irate I found something on the shelf to look at because I didn’t want to miss this little show. She was letting this poor geriatric employee have it. In fact, she had gotten so loud that three other employees began to gather around her. The Wal-Mart Goon Squad!
By now I had given up on the façade of feigning interest in random products on the shelf and was just watching this unfold. Her F-bomb laced tirade, which was more like a carpet bombing raid of WWII, reached an absolutely fevered pitch when they offered her a raincheck. I actually began laughing when she swept a 12 pack of root beer off of the shelf and soda exploded everywhere. She somehow managed to get almost every can to rupture in a glorious sugary shower of humor. She gathered her cart, offered some final parting (and rather profane) words that more than suggested some inappropriate actions the goons had taken with their mothers, and began marching to the front. Who was left to clean up the mess? That same tiny and ancient man that made the egregious error of asking “Can I help you?”.
My shopping trip continued and I could hear walkie talkies going off everywhere around me looking for the manager. The lines were backed up into the clothing section, the lady from earlier was still F-bombing everyone near her from somewhere near the front of the store, and people were pouring through the front doors at a dizzying pace. No one could find the manager…no one but me.
Matt the store manager, according to his nametag, was hiding behind crates of bananas in produce. His radio was blaring for a manager, yet he didn’t move. I’ve seen this before in my work. People will have the thought that “If I don’t move, no one will see me” even where they are in plain sight. I’m not kidding: Matt looked like he was an extra on the set of a zombie movie. Shell shocked. Terrorized. That boy was clearly outmatched by the onslaught of shoppers.
Well, I made it through the long and seemingly endless line before I reached the end of my thin strand of patience. I loaded my bags and accidently bumped a lady in the next line over. I apologized to the sweet lady. She replied to my kind words with a very pleasant “F-ing excuse me for being in the way.”
Ahhh, these are the things about the holiday season that warm the cockles of my old heart. Clearly the season is about losing your grip over bottled water and terrorizing a store manager until he hides behind crates of produce.
As I sit here pecking away at my keyboard I can hear my son getting ready to go caroling with the church, smell the hot cocoa and cider steeping away in the kitchen, and watching the lights flicker on my absurdly sized tree I am reminded that there is so much more to this season than Wal-Mart. There is family, friends, kindness, and love. Keep those in mind that don’t have families or warm places to go. Keep those that are stationed in any of a 100 places around the world keeping us safe so we can be with our families. Please keep all of those, right here at home, that are keeping us safe, working in hospitals, keeping our roads clear, and our lights on.
Merry Christmas everyone!