Attention Walmart Shoppers

I had one of those Walmart days yesterday. Not every trip to Walmart makes it a Walmart day. But yesterday was.

If you’re a regular reader of Just Humor Me, or if you know me in my real, not-very-funny life, you know I’m a big fan of Walmart. Even though it’s the biggest Chinese crap factory in the US, and even though it doesn’t fit with my latte-sipping, Obama-voting, hybrid-driving, NPR-listening image, I really am all for Walmart.

But some days the place just really pisses me off.

Yesterday I had a return and a list of five things to buy. The line for the returns was long and it included a woman in one of those motorized scooters, which takes up a lot of space, so the line appeared to be even longer than it was. I was directly behind the Mart Cart, as the Walmart scooters are called.

Whenever I see someone in one of those scooters, I can’t help but wonder why they’re on one. Unless they have a huge cast on a leg or blood-soaked dressings or an IV hookup or a colostomy bag or an oxygen tank on the seat beside them, I am just not happy until I see evidence of a handicap that would cause someone to use one of the in-store scooters. I’m not one of those people who thinks that scooter users are lazy or faking it. I don’t ever complain about handicap parking stickers and I don’t accuse people of abusing this stuff. I’m not finding fault. I just wonder. It’s a curiosity that I can’t help but pursue. Because I would think that they would be a pain to drive around. They’re so wide and backing up is really hard and embarrassing because the alarm goes off and it’s got to be hard on the driver. Sometimes I keep an eye out to see if the scooter rider limps a little bit when getting out to pick up something from a shelf. I look for signs of atrophy or joint stiffness or bleeding or asthma. All I need is a little groan or a gingerly arm movement and my curiosity is satisfied and I’m on to the next thing.

So I’m standing in the returns line and I’m looking down at the base of the scooter and I see a sign that says “Don’t Stand on Bumper.” The Mart Cart has a wide ledge that forms the bumper to protect the wheels. It’s just the kind of bumper that would be tempting to a 3-year-old wild child running rampant or a shoplifter looking to make a moderate-speed getaway from the security guards or some lazy teenager looking to hitch a ride over to video games. Or a Walmart shopper who is fascinated by Mart Carts and the reasons people use them.

No, I didn’t get on the back of the scooter. But after I saw the sign, that’s all I could think of.

I was in fantasy land, standing on the back of the Mart Cart with my arms outstretched, like it was the Titanic, singing “My Heart Will Go On” and the returns girl took someone who wasn’t even standing in line! Some guy with a blow up mattress just walked up in front of all of us and got his return done. That set the tone for my entire shopping experience.

My list of five things to buy was a typical “guns-and-wedding ring, spark-plugs-and-underwear” Walmart shopping list: floss threaders, a personal hygiene item that I won’t mention, four herb plants, disposable coffee cups, and – coincidentally - underwear. By the time I got the last of the five things, I had also picked up a little something to send my niece Laney for her birthday, one of those foam toe separators for do-it-yourself pedicures, a tube of that expensive face sunscreen, and Sharpies in tropical colors. You know, all the important stuff.

While looking for Laney’s gift, I went foraging in the toy department, an area that for the past six or seven years has been Off Limits, Danger Red Zone, BRAWP BRAWP BRAWP to me.

If you’re an old mom like me and you haven’t been in Toy Ground Zero for a while, wait until you hear how much Barbies have changed. No, she’s still blond and as slutty as ever, but now she doesn’t even try. The line of Barbies went something like this, from left to right:

Barbie France, who is wearing fishnets, shows cleavage, and is so a hooker.

Barbie Corvette, who is dressed, yes, like a hooker.

Barbie Scotland, hooker in a kilt mini skirt.

Tattoo Barbie, which comes with actual tattoos for Barbie and you yourself. Everything is so small in there and I couldn’t find my reading glasses, but I think one of the tats is Ken’s initials (if Ken’s last name starts with a P), stretched out in a tiny tramp stamp.

Baby Doctor Barbie, who wearing skin-tight denim capris. She’s holding one baby and is carelessly leaving another one on the changing table with only the Super Grip Barbie Twist Tie to keep him from falling off. I’m thinking he’ll be OK. I still have a scar on my knuckle from stabbing myself with fingernail scissors trying to free accessories from the twist ties in Rapunzel Barbie from 1998 to 1999. By the time I got her and all of her hair accouterments out from under their heavy plastic handcuffs, my daughter had outgrown dolls.

Holiday Barbie, who is sporting a Paris Hilton side-swish hairdo and carting around about 6 ounces of mascara. Merrrrrrry Christmas.

And then – at the end of this sparkling, star-studded line, is the Carol Burnett Barbie. The phrase “sight for sore eyes” isn’t applicable here, but I thought of it because my eyes got a little bit sore when they landed on this doll. She’s got that happy cow face and the overbite that was charming on stage and screen, but not so much in a 13-inch fashion doll. She’s wearing a curtain rod on her shoulders from the only skit that anyone remembers from The Carol Burnett Show. If they were going to make a Barbie out of a 1960s TV variety show hostess - and yes, I guess it was inevitable - they couldn’t come up with someone blonder and more Barbie-like?

She was next to Captain James T. Kirk Ken, which I might have been tempted to buy, since I’ve had a jones for William Shatner ever since last year when I saw him in Joseph Beth Bookstore in Lexington in person, close up and personal. But Kirk Ken didn’t look the least bit like the Shatner Kirk. Did they make a new Star Trek movie with a new Kirk when I wasn’t looking?

I got to the checkout, miraculously without a skanky Miss Thang Barbie in my cart, whereupon the checkout guy started charging me the wrong amounts for all my Walmart crap.

“Hey, wait!” I said when the expensive face sunscreen rang up at $10.48. “The sign said that was $8.78.”

I whipped out another brand of expensive face sunscreen and had him scan that to see if it would end up to be cheaper. After a ScanTron guitar solo of sorts, I ended up getting a $9.97 tube of expensive face sunscreen.

The herbs ended up to be mismarked too, but I was afraid to protest. My return had been a $2.97 bag of decorative rocks and I felt guilty about that, plus the fact that I was using a $5 Walmart gift card to help pay for my items. The checkout guy looked at me with a I-know-you’re-not-poor look, so I figured I should just shut up and pay the extra whatever.

Luckily, I’m mature enough to know that my next trip to Walmart will be better. ‘Cause next time I’m getting Denny Crane Ken.

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