What Happens at Walmart, Haunts My Dreams….

When it comes to big box shopping, I believe there are those who choose Red and those who choose Blue.

Whenever possible, I choose Red (Target).  I pretty much hate Blue (Walmart).  It makes me itchy.

I would much rather spend my time perusing the Target Dollar Spot for glass mason jars, stickers and twine that I can fashion into a cute centerpiece, than duke it out over boxed mac and cheese on Roll-Back in Walmart’s Action Alley.

Given my choice between digging elbows deep into a giant bin of DVD’s and Blue Ray discs on sale for $5.00 or less in a Walmart….where you are just as likely to find a used tissue or bandaid as you are the complete Lord of the Rings trilogy….I would much rather browse the scanty selection of equally low priced movies displayed neatly, by category and alphabetically, in Target’s entertainment section.

And shall we discuss clientele?  Yeah, yeah, I know not every Walmart shopper shuffles through in Coors Light printed fleece pajama pants and slippers….they also shuffle through like this:


Funny, when Googling “Target Shoppers”  I scanned through five pages of images and there was not a butt crack or a dislodged boob to be found….so, I rest my case.

You can imagine then,  my despair when I found myself pulling into a parking spot at Wally World today.  I was away on a day trip at a satellite location for The Really Big Ass Company where I was scheduled to teach a leadership training course for new managers.

I had arrived at the facility a few hours early to set up and assess the supplies the location had on site vs. what I would need to run out and pick up for the class.

After jotting down my list, I queried a local for directions.

Me:  Hey there Kathy, where’s the local Target?  I need to make a supply run.

Kathy:  (Laughs)  Oh, there isn’t a Target around here for miles….there’s a Walmart five miles that way though.  (Pointing in the direction of what is sure to be a shadowy place full of banjo playing teddy bears in rocking chairs and plastic cookie jars in the shape of pigs that oink when opened).

Me:  Define “miles.”  (I quickly check my watch and conclude a 100 mile round trip is doable).

Kathy:  Really far.  Too far to get there and back.  Walmart should have everything you need though.

Me:  Hmmm….what are my other options?

Kathy:  There’s a Big Lot’s a few miles past Walmart.

Me:  Walmart it is!

I pull into the Walmart shopping plaza, park and head in.  I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the glass fronted doors and note that my face, without my even realizing it, has morphed into stink mode.  My facial expressions almost always betray my emotions for all things I find icky.  It’s a characteristic of mine that is legendary among my friends and certain family members and I’m honestly shocked it hasn’t gotten my ass kicked on a number of occassions.

Anyway, I smoothed out my expression and walked in.  To be honest….I was kind of, sort of, pleasantly surprised.  It was actually alright.  It appeared to be a newer store and you could tell that management and staff,did their best to keep it neat, clean and fairly organized.

Of course, there was the signature hodgepodge of random items littering the entire perimeter of the stores interior….and the DVD/Blue Ray bins were overflowing with movies and probably a communicable disease or two….but overall, it was better than expected.

Feeling confident that I would not catch scabies after all, I zipped around the store collecting all of the items I needed before paying and heading back to my car in just over 20 minutes.  In the history of my Target shopping, I have never been in and out in 20 minutes.  Either because I was too busy browsing through the home goods section….or because they almost never have more than two registers open.

Wow, I thought….Maybe this isn’t so bad for certain items.  Maybe I’ll give it another chance.

And then it happened.  I saw her.

I was loading my bags into my car when I caught movement from the corner of my eye.  Looking over, I noticed a woman sitting in the front seat of a compact car parked sort of haphazardly, one’ish spot over from mine.  The spot between us was vacant, but she had parked in a way that took up a portion of two spots.

At first glance, she looked like an ordinary woman making goo-goo eyes at a tiny baby as it lay cradled in her arms.

Aww….a newborn!  I thought.  My ovaries….closed for business….did a little somersault as I watched them snuggle.

Perhaps she sensed my gaze, because the woman looked up from the baby and we made eye contact.  She was an older woman and I wondered if she was the mother or the grandmother as it appeared possible she could be either.

Then I noticed something else….there wasn’t a car seat in the vehicle, but there was a lot of other stuff.  So much stuff in fact,  it would not have been possible for anyone to ride safely in the back seat, let alone a baby.

My heart started to race a bit as I considered the scene.

Had she kidnapped the baby?  

Had she driven there without the safety of a car seat all Brittany Spears style?

Both are a crime….should I call the police?  

Maybe she’s just watching the baby while its mother shops and they didn’t actually arrive together?  Weird, but it’s Walmart.  Maybe they were meeting up for lunch at China Garden and mom needed to make a quick trip inside for diapers or something.  

Should I wait and see?

The woman didn’t appear to be concerned by my presence or hiding her own as she alternated her attention between the baby and me….casually glancing in my direction with a slight smile before returning her gaze to the little one.

Then, I noticed something else.  She was feeding the baby with a bottle that looked oddly like a baby doll bottle.  One of those plastic numbers with the bright orange liquid inside that makes you think, what the shit are you feeding that baby?  Or maybe it’s just me who is made to think that.

Anyway, I then noticed something else….the baby seemed oddly rigid as she shifted its position in her arms….feeding, then cuddling, then simulating burping and repeat.

Now, I was staring….and not in a “Awww, look at the new born way,” but in a “Should I call the police because this woman has lost her fucking mind” way.

Glancing in my direction again, she smiled a wild-eyed smile, tilted the baby in my direction and made its stiff little arm wave.

Then, she placed what was clearly a doll….albeit a very lifelike looking doll with a somewhat scrunched-up face that gave it the appearance of a sleeping newborn….carefully on the passenger seat, covered it with a blanket, got out of her car and headed into Walmart as I scrambled into my own car and locked the doors.

She glanced back one last time as she entered through the glass doors of the building while I sat there….confused and now moderately traumatized.

You almost got me Walmart.  Almost.

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