Monday, October 10, 2005

Death of our Culture. Or, Shopping at WallyWorld

The mosquitoes had been pretty bad this year.
Big ones that actually cast a shadow upon you before they strike.
I’d spent Saturday trimming the shrubbery around the house with the hand clippers, and I wanted to enjoy a nice early fall evening on my back deck, playing a little music, but the little blood sucking vampires wouldn’t leave me alone. They zoned in on me with deadly blood-sensing accuracy and I was nearly eaten alive.

I figured I needed some of those stinky green mosquito coils—the ones that look like the burner eye on your grandma’s stove. The local grocery store didn’t have any, so I was forced to make the 17-mile drive into Asheville, NC. My destination—the place where you can find anything you want—the new Super Wal-Mart. And this trip taught me something that still makes me shake my head in disgust:

The Saturday night highlight in Asheville is not the Mall, not one of the blues/alternative/folk bars and nightclubs, not one of our cool, trendy restaurants. It’s the Super Wal-Mart.

Man, this place was rockin’.
The parking lot was packed. I spent more time in the queue at the stoplight leading into the parking lot than I did getting into the Paul Simon concert down in Charlotte North Carolina during the summer of ’92.

Hell, if this place wasn’t doing business 24 hours a day there would be people tailgating with boom boxes and grilled chicken just waiting for the store to open on Saturday mornings.

I bounded in to get the mosquito coils, fueled by the anxious rush of adrenalin at watching their fumigated little parasitic bodies falling towards ground zero. Hit-Hard, run fast is my shopping motto.

Immediately, the shopping center’s gravity pulled me in further. Whoa. Look at the four aisles of snacks—Geeze! Macadamia Nuts! Guacamole Doritos! I grabbed one of each.

The Tim Allen gleam hit my eye when I passed the saws, drills, shelves, screws, nails, nuts, bolts, brackets, sockets, sledge hammers, hand axes, extension cords, ceiling fans. But I was strong. I kept to my course. Kill The Mosquitoes.

Finally I made it to the camping/outdoor equipment section. Two big guys are standing in front of the mosquito coils discussing which type of aerosol bug repellent smelled sweatiest, so to kill a few minutes I bounced over a couple of rows and I struck oil.
Motor oil, that is.

Well, I’d been telling myself to change the oil for the last few weeks and by golly, when that spur of the moment bug hits ya….

So at this point I was carrying around five quarts of oil, an oil filter, a bottle of slick 50, the nuts and Doritos, and I was trying, for the love of Pete, to balance it on top of an air filter that I picked up as another spur of the moment non-decision.

This proved to be very tricky. I didn’t get a cart or basket at the front of the store because I only thought I was picking up a 4.4 ounce package of noxious mosquito coils.
Now I had six pounds of little boxes and containers doing a Weeble impersonation on an air filter stage and—Whoa! I saw all the videos on sale. I’m a sucker for a bargain video, let’s see…buns of steel, thighmaster, Jessica Simpson’s workout video, Jane Fonda’s, Donald Sutherland’s—Oh— that was a copy of Klute.

I scanned the rack hoping to find a Monty Python comedy or an old sci-fi movie. This guy with bad breath stood beside me slowly chanting to no one: “Lethal…Weapon…3, Lethal…Weapon…3, Lethal…Weapon…3.” His wife comes up the aisle holding a copy of Thelma & Louise.
“You’ve already got that, you id-jeet!” he snipped.
“No I Ain’t.” she sassed back.
“I was right thar when your sister gave it to ya at the barbecue two months ago!
“That was Milo & Otis Mr. smart mouth!” she said. I moved on and kept browsing. Not only were they smelly and crass, but they were looking for bad-to-OK movies that were 15 years old.

A minute later I was out of the electronics department with a $5.98 copy of “Tin Cup.”

I made a mental count of my merchandise as I closed in on the checkout quadrant. two, three, four…eleven items! I headed for the express line. Two people in front of me, not bad. I figured I’d be out of there in three minutes.

I scanned the last minute, spur-of-the-moment rack. Shoelaces, double A Batteries, horoscope mini-books, Bicycle playing cards…

The clerk called in for a price check on the person in front of me, my second biggest shopping pet peeve. I’m starting to get hungry. I guess all that hedge trimming I’d done that afternoon was catching up with me and my blood sugar had dropped. I gaze back to the rack: Blank cassettes, Lip Balm, twin packs of disposable razors-hey that’s not a bad looking flashlight. Hmmm. What’s this? Yu-Gi-Oh toothpaste—Oh No! The Lady In Front Of Me Is Writing A Check In The Express Line!! Agggggh! If only crucifixion was back in style. And what kills me about check writers is that they have all this time to ‘pre-fill-out’ the darn thing. You KNOW what store you’re in, You KNOW the date, and You KNOW how to sign your name. All that should be done and you should just be waiting on the total to fill in. I send her death rays with my eyes.

Man, I was hungry. I was starting to feel weak. And as luck would have it the candy bars are on the next isle.

So I jumped over to the next line, which had just opened, grabbed a Snickers bar (they satisfy!) and I got through faster. Looking over to the check-writing lady, with an evil glint in my eye, I whipped out my debit card, slide it, slam it, bang it, and I’m out of there.

Ah the excitement of a Saturday night. I headed for home with a smile on my face. Then about a hundred feet from my drive I suddenly remembered the damn Mosquito coils…the ones I never picked up.

They make things for times like these. It’s called bourbon.


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adhddeficit said...

Hi Smackiepipe,

Awesome post!

Smackiepipe said...

T'anks for reading.

Give me some more time, I'll do something else stupid and write about it. Stay tuned.

Writerli said...

>A minute later I was out of the electronics department with a $5.98 copy of “Tin Cup.”

HEY! I thought I was the only one who liked that movie.

Smackiepipe said...

Heh. Join the club. And Cheech was great.

Costner's 'gift,' if you can call it that, is playing the underdog athelete stumbling over himself. 'Bull Durham,' 'Tin Cup,' and most recently 'The Upside of Anger' are among his best.

Thanks for stopping by, lady.