Lots of people hate Wal Mart because of its business practices but my reasons are a bit less socially conscious:
1. The parking lot is as big as many small towns/villages and usually contains more cars than some third world countries have. When it looks like the Disneyland parking lot, you know you are in trouble.
2. Because of said parking lot situation, you basically have two options:
–One, drive around and around looking for a parking space within half a mile of the entrance. This is what most people seem to be doing. If it’s cold or hot or rainy (and here in Oklahoma that covers a lot of the year) I do the same. My method is to watch for someone heading to their car and then wait for them to pull out and leave me a spot. Unfortunately my track record with this is about the same as picking the shortest line at the checkout — poor. I always seem to be waiting for someone who has decided to clean out the glove compartment and completely re-do their makeup or pluck their eyebrows before vacating the premises.
–Two, head directly for the first available spot — way, way away from the entrance. When the weather is nice, like Tuesday when I last made the dreaded Wal Mart run, this is by far the better option. Not only do you avoid major irritation before even entering the store, if, like me, you could stand to lose a few pounds, you can convince yourself that you are exercising and doing something good for your health.
3. The store is HUGE! We have the Super Wal Mart version in our small town so the place is absolutely enormous. Again, you can try to convince yourself that all that walking is just your exercise for the day but even I can think of more enjoyable ways to expend a few calories. Because my goal is to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible, I try to be really organized and make my list according to the layout of the store in order to avoid backtracking. Which leads me to the fourth reason I hate Wal Mart.
4. They are forever changing things around. Just when I have figured out that the tortillas are on the aisle with the salsa, unless they are the kind that need to be refrigerated, in which case they will be next to the cheese, not the biscuits — — they decide to put them where I would have in the first place — in the bread section. But that’s just for now. Any day now I expect to zip through the store planning to pick up tortillas in the bread section which is near the checkout and hence, my last stop, when to my great annoyance I will discover they have moved them again. I will probably have to ask at least two employees before I find one who can tell me that the tortillas are now in their new “Ethnic Foods” section which will be conveniently located at the opposite end of the store.
5. Once you have finally found most of what you came for and tried to avoid adding fourteen items you didn’t have on your list but which were so temptingly displayed and even had their prices *rolled back*, the next hurdle is checking out. Our Wal Mart has 973 checkout counters but only 7 will be open at any given time and 4 of them will require you to have 20 items or less. Like I’m going to do the Wal Mart thing for anything less than a month’s worth of stocking up. So you eye the remaining three possibilities. I avoid the line with the blue haired old lady and her bulging envelope of coupons. Ditto for the tired mama with 3 whining children and two carts full of groceries. That leaves the seemingly normal looking person with a reasonable quantity of items who then proceeds to have a lengthy conversation with the checker about everything from the price of bread to global warming (they’re against it).
6. Finally, it’s my turn. While the person ahead of me is checking out, I carefully place my items on the conveyor belt thingy. Now, I’ve been told I am OCD (same people who comment on my passion for New Orleans – but remember, they have no credentials) but surely I can’t be the only one who likes her groceries bagged a certain way. For instance, I think it is perfectly reasonable to expect that produce, which will all be deposited into the refrigerator crisper at home, should be bagged together. So I place all the produce together and then leave a little space before putting the next grouping on the belt. I also prefer to have toiletry items (shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, razors) together because these all go to the bathroom and it’s convenient to be able to carry them upstairs all together in one bag. And then there’s the bread. I hate squished bread. Bread needs special attention. So I carefully put like items together, leaving a bit of space between in a subtle but still apparent sort of way. But what do you suppose the checker does? Yep. She places a head of lettuce and some green onions in a bag and then ignoring the carrots and bell peppers right next to them, she reaches way down the belt and adds a bottle of shampoo and perhaps one heavy can of something or other. Okay, one bag filled! On this most recent trip, I had carefully placed three items together which I thought would make perfect bag partners — tortillas, bag of croutons, and loaf of very fresh sourdough bread. Now see, if I were doing the bagging, I would have taken the tortillas and placed them on the bottom of the bag then put the croutons and bread side by side on top. This seems perfectly logical to me as they are all bread type items and packaged this way should arrive home in good condition. But noooo…that would never do. Instead, the checker puts the bread (you know, the really soft, fresh loaf?) in a bag and then starts to put a three pound bag of shredded cheese on top! Fortunately I caught her before she completed this stunning move and rescued my precious loaf of bread from certain flattening. There were numerous other stupid combinations but I’ll spare you the details except to say that anyone in their right mind should know that Earl Grey tea, the elixer of life, does NOT belong in the same bag with highly scented toiletry items.
7. If you haven’t suffered a heart attack when the groceries are totaled up, all you have left to do to complete this fun little excursion is trudge out to your car pushing that heavy cart (remember, I don’t go for just a few items). The first hurdle is trying to find your car because it sure didn’t seem that far from the door when you walked in without pushing a cart filled with 123 pounds of groceries. Once you locate your vehicle you can load all those poorly packaged bags and leave. Unless you are me and need to remove the Earl Grey tea from the toiletries bag and make a few other *adjustments*. That’s when you notice that someone is waiting for your parking space so you hurry up, get in the car, start the engine, adjust the stereo, pluck an eyebrow or two then drive away, grateful that you survived and hopefully won’t have to do this again for a couple of weeks.