I am not a fan of Walmart, but they do have the best prices on Christmas lights, so I suck it up and give them my money. The same lights at Home Depot are double what I pay at Wally World.
The parking lot was full, people streaming into both entrances.
There is a line in the personal scooter queue. Seems Walmart purchased new ones that are comfier and a bit faster. I notice that many of the riders are suspiciously fit and healthy; maybe just too tired to walk. One lady had her Chihuahua in the scooter basket; the dog seemed afraid, probably knows she can’t drive the thing. Finally, the Walmart starter gives the group the checkered flag, and they roar into the store.
I snag a basket and proceed to the Christmas Decor isle, which is about one-third of the store.
A family of 15 is fighting over which lights will look better, multi-colored or red. Arguing in Spanish and some English, as to not offend us Anglos, although I know most of what they are sputtering. They finally grabbed two dozen or so boxes of the lights I wanted. Bam… lights cleaned out. Mission aborted, done, canceled.
I ask a lady that seemed to be wandering around in a daze checking her cell phone. She wears a Walmart vest and name tag, so I assume she knows something. Wrong, she doesn’t know if there will be more lights or even more Christmas decorations once the shelves were empty. I get it, supply chain problems, or perhaps clueless employees. Take your pick. I settle for similar lights, but not the ones I needed.
Standing in line, five people are ahead of me and one is a woman with an overflowing basket of groceries. Mostly junk food items; chips, beer, Hostess cupcakes, frozen dinners, cookies, Mountain Dew, and Coke. That might explain why she is as broad as tall. Not one healthy item in her basket.
What the hell? This is the garden / Christmas decoration department, not the market. The poor checker, not used to scanning grocer items, is bumfuzzled and doing the best he can. The line grows longer, now about 15 people behind me. The checker is getting slower, people are getting irritated, low blood sugar is kicking in. Christmas decorations need to be installed; the hours are ticking away.
A smallish Asian lady is in front of me; she’s done with it, walks over to the grocery lady, and loses it. Arms waving, jabbering in Chinese, but I could be wrong. She has lights that need installing and glass balls that are growing mold. The grocery lady tells her to F..k off. The checker finishes her groceries and the 20 six-packs of Mountain Dew, then she reaches into her purse and proceeds to write a check. The checker boy panics. A check, who writes checks? It’s doubtful he’s ever seen one before. He calls for a manager. Things are getting growly. My arms are going numb from the 8 boxes of lights I am holding.
The line behind me is now up to about 30 bodies, some with full carts of Christmas decorations and whiny kids. One man about halfway back is carrying a sidearm, possibly a 9 MM. We open carry here in Texas, everybody has a hog on their hip, in their car, or hidden in their purse. He is scowling, not a happy shopper.
My turn arrives. I plop my lights onto the counter. Checker boy starts scanning. ” Wait a minuet here buddy,” I say. ” These lights are suppose to be $6.79 a box not $10.79.” He scans again, then checks his cell phone and scans with that.
” Nope, they are $10.97,” he replies. Well, holy crap, all this waiting and I am getting screwed. I tell him to keep the lights and walk out.
Exiting the Garden / Christmas Department, I pass by a guy sitting on a Home Depot bucket just outside the gate. He has a sign that reads, “Homeless, Anything Can Help.” His bucket has a few coins and maybe four dollars in bills. I drop in a fiver. He says thank you and God Bless.
I’m a sucker during the holiday season. Why not. I have more than a lot of folks, and a lot less than many, but I can afford a five-dollar bill.
He looks up, our eyes meet for a split second, so, I ask him his story; everybody has one.
His name is Ted. He’s a Vietnam vet, has some PTSD and alcohol problems, and his daughter won’t let him live with her and his grandchildren, so he and the small dog sitting beside him sleep behind Walmart or wherever. So, I give him another fiver for the pooch.
I am humbled for being such a winy assed old man over a few boxes of Christmas lights. I am inwardly embarrassed. I quietly ask God’s forgiveness, hoping he is listening today.
Before I leave, I tell Ted, that he might want to find another store, people shop at Walmart because they “don’t have any money.” He laughs and wishes me a Merry Christmas.