Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wal-Mart Is Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose

Hey y’all! I need to get my southern slang on because I’m getting ready to go home for Easter. All this packcrastinating, packcrasterbating, and maniacally searching for bottles under 3ozs is reminding me of the last time I went home, which was for Christmas. Which in turn reminds me of going to Wal-Mart with my dad three days before Christmas.

It was a barrel of monkey laughs (totally a real saying y’all!).

So I go to my dad and am like, “K here’s the sitch, I have presents for everyone except mom because her and I have literally opposite tastes and she will hate whatever I get her so I’m going to go to Wal-Mart and buy whatever CD I would least want to own. I chose a CD because who the fuck owns CDs anymore? And I realized my horror at CD ownership meant it was the perfect gift for mom. Also, I need to buy Toasted Mini-Wheats [my sister] an iPod and since you guys live in George Washington’s house in a super historic town that is too historic for commerce, Wal-Mart is the only option.”

Dad responds, “So when do you want to go?”


“It’s after sunset! We do not leave the confines of the estate after dark for we are old and feeble and there are roving gangs waiting for us in the evil land known as ‘public.’” Ok, for serious, SOME of that is paraphrasing, but my dad has seriously warned my sister and I of the “roving gangs” that want to kidnap us from the local Target, Wal-Mart, whatever. AND my dad goes to bed at like 8pm so anything after sunset is like snorting cocaine at 4am at CBGBs with some guys you just met, i.e. totally insane and yet teaches you what it is to truly live.

“Well this is the only time I’m going to really be able to go.”

“*sniffle* Godspeed to you, my eldest. I hope one day that we are reunited, but if this is indeed the last time I see you I just want you to know that I told you so. I told you so, so hard.”

“I was kinda hoping you’d come with me.”

“Guffaw! Guffaw AND chortle! Yeah, not happening.”


“Don’t do it Toasty, come on. I mean it, don’t.”

*Lip quiver puppy dog eye combo ATTACK!* “Please…daddy.”

“I already have my coat on for some reason. Let’s get this over with.”


“What was that?”

“Nothing dad, LET’S DO THIS THING!”

We drive the 10ish miles to the other end of town where the Wal-Mart is. Ok, before we go on I want to make it clear that I hate Wal-Mart. They are an evil corporation that is helping destroy America. I KNOW GUYS OK! No need to tell me I get it. But seriously, where my parents live is pretty wrecked already. It’s this tiny suburb in one of the areas with the highest cost of living and doing business in the country so no one can afford to buy things and the local market can’t sustain anything but a section of town that is just large retailers like Safeway and Wal-Mart. There is nothing else, no cute boutiques or local owned anything (except for a couple restaurants and they know us there because we’ve been keeping them in business for decades so clearly we support what local business there is and maybe you could get off my back?).

Moving on.

We get into the Wal-Mart and the only way I can really describe it is, “Vast hellscape of empty desperation and anarchy.” Children streaked with dirt and wearing tattered rags who had been abandoned by their parents days, maybe weeks ago were running feral through the aisles. There was nothing on the shelves but a few scattered boxes that only accentuated how empty the rest of the shelves were. And there were no employees to be seen anywhere.

First we go to the electronics section. I find the iPods but they are in a locked case, which requires an employee. We wait and wait and wait and wait. I look over and notice the CD racks are like five feet away, so I say,

“Hey dad, you wait here. If they come over I want this little square thing in orange [because they are out of pink which is the color of everything Toasted Mini Wheats owns including her hair].”

“Wait, why not this other square thing, it’s cheaper.”

“That’s an iPod shuffle, they suck.”

“But it’s cheaper.”

“But it sucks.”


“Listen Scroogey McCheappants, you are not buying it, I am, and I want this one in orange, do you think you can remember that?”

“Where are we?”

“Right, I’ll be over here.”

So I go over to the CD rack and begin looking for the Beatles album I would least like to own. Since this is basically like trying to decide which turd smells worse, it’s a difficult decision. About five minutes go by and I look over at the iPod case.

Dad is missing.

So I look around and eventually see him walking really fast with no obvious destination through the main aisles. I go over,

“Why are you not waiting where I told you?”

“No one is coming Toasty. I think they are closed.”

“The doors are open and there are lots of people here.”

“I think they just gave up and abandoned this place. Left it for the roving gangs. Oh also, I need to find a book for your mom, I forgot to mention that part. She needs it to read tonight. It’s the latest in that Girl with a Dragon Tattoo series.”

“Didn’t you get mom a Kindle for Christmas?”




“Dad, do you know what a Kindle is?”

“Your brother told me she’d like it. Also he took my credit card and ordered it for me. I think through the computer even though I told him not to because using your credit card on the computer is how they find you.”



“And what happens when they find you?”

“They force you to gay marry and then they take your kidneys and give them to foreigners.”


“Bill O’Reilly told me so.”


“Or the Pope, it’s hard to keep it all straight.”

“Anyway, back to my point. You bought mom a Kindle. Kindles are like the handheld things on Star Trek that hold all the reports and stuff. It’s an electronic pad for reading books on. In two days mom will be able to buy that book for like $0.99 and read it instantly.”

“That’s preposterous.”

“It’s true.”

“I hate how you and your siblings try to screw with me. I’m not THAT gullible Toasty, you are not going to get me to believe you can buy books for a dollar on a gamboy and read them right then and there.”

“Well you download them so you can read them whenever for as long as you own the Kindle, and when they improve cloud technology you’ll probably be able to save it indefinitely.”

*looks like a deer in headlights*

“What I’m saying, Sir Cheapington LovesMoney Esquire, is that you can save like $10 if you wait until Saturday.”

“Wait, am I a knight or a lawyer? You know I hate lawyers.”

“You are a Knight in the Order of the Penny Pincher and you are certified to uphold the miser code.”

“Wow, I must have worked really hard to rise so high in the ranks and have two successful, though related, medieval careers.”

“We were all very proud.”

“Anyway, your mom needs the book to read tonight.” Translation: my mom will throw a tantrum like a toddler on meth if he doesn’t get her what she asked for RIGHT NOW!

“Ok fine, let me just buy this iPod and CD first.”

And we wait. And wait and wait and wait and wait. I actually saw two employees run up to each other, high five, and disappear. I imagine they said something along the lines of, “HIGH FIVE, not only have we helped no customers today, our presence has given them hope and then immediately more frustration when they see us pass them by with not even a hint of recognition or eye contact. WILD STALLIONS!”

I get a very determined look on my face and start to walk towards the case. Dad says,

“Oh no what are you going to do? Why is your fist like that? Toasty?”

“Don’t worry dad, I’m just going to punch this case until it gives me an iPod…in orange.”

“That sounds like a terrible and illegal idea.”

“There is no law here old man. God and the law have forsaken this place long ago.”


Indeed it was an employee who saw us, rolled her eyes, got my iPod, and rang me up. She did this with a look of pure disgust on her face. And though she said nothing during the whole transaction, she did manage to stretch it to about 20 minutes. As she was handing me my bag, my dad asked,

“Where is your book section.”

She pointed somewhere behind her as she walked out from behind the register and towards a door marked “Employees Only. This is where we high five at your expense.”

So now I have to find the book section with my father who is basically a tall, gray child. He is flailing up and down the aisles screaming, “WHERE IS THE BOOK SECTION! I NEED THE BOOK SECTION! I THINK THEY ARE CLOSED! WE WILL BE TRAPPED IN A WAL-MART FOREVER!”

I finally guide him to the other end of the store where we find the “book section.” The book section at Wal-Mart can only be described as “a crushing blow to literacy.” It wasn’t so much a section as two shelves facing each other, and one just had magazines. The one shelf with books was divided into three sections: cheesy romance novels, ethnic cheesy romance novels, and “best sellers,” which were a mix of Michael Crichton, Sarah Palin, and Danielle Steele, because she is the CLASSY romance novel writer. Or something.

We start looking up and down the “book” shelf and just aren’t finding it. I DO find however that they have the series of cheesy books I am currently reading. I’m standing there looking at my series when my dad, who is by now completely frantic and out of breath, says,

“Are you helping? That doesn’t look like helping.”

“Oh not even a little.”

“TOASTY! Damnit! I need to find this book and you need to be more helping and less not helping.”

“Buy me this book.” It was the ninth in the series, the next one I needed, and it was only $6. Six fucking dollars. Come on, dad could totally by that for me.


“You should buy me this book, it’s only $6.”

“No. Absolutely not. No no no no no.”

“Because it has vampires and you’re super religious? Or because it’s full of sex and you’re super religious.”

“It is because you are not helping!”

“Geez fine whatever.”

So I put my book back and look around the shelf.

“Here, it’s right here.”


“Yeah it came out like yesterday, it’s not in paperback yet.”

“Oooooowwwww, *sucks in air through clenched teeth* I don’t know.” Turns the book over to look at the price.

“Are you kidding me, Miserly Von Cheapinstein? You have been frantic about finding this book for like an hour. Are you really going to go home without it now?”

“I GUESS not. Ok now where’s that book you want?”

“You said you wouldn’t buy it for me.”

“That was when you were not helping.”

“Wait so I just couldn’t have it first?”


“I couldn’t put my book in the cart before mom’s?”


“The hell old man?”

“I had to motivate you?”

“That’s stupid. And ridiculous. You are ridiculous.”

“You found the book for me didn’t you?”

“…well played old man.”

“That’s how I became a lawyer knight.”

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