Sunday, November 10, 2013
An Advantage of Age
There are some things you dare to do because you have silver hair and carry a cane that you wouldn't have dared even 20 years earlier.
It was the day which is unavoidable in our house - Mt. McKinley WalMart day. Older son Ian has been down with a dreadful virus for over two weeks and I am out of cat food and, worse, cat litter. The "boys" (Smokey and Hobbes) are beginning to complain about the state of the box, as are we. No matter how much you sift, after a while a certain odour arises.
It feels like Mt. McKinley has been undergoing renovations since George W Bush was in office, but the efforts are beginning to be visible at last. Gone are the single-cart-wide aisles and huge tarped-off areas. They are down to one smallish tarped-off area. Suddenly there's a new floor. And overnight (or at least since I was there about three weeks ago) the contents of the entire store have been shuffled like a gigantic deck of cards. Cosmetics have replaced pharmacy, pharmacy has shuffled down the wall, baked goods are where cosmetics were, food is on shelves which held toys before. Household linens have replaced soup. Electronics have been moved to the back wall.
Ah well, I found the cat food easily enough. It's only migrated down a few rows from its former place. I got a small bucket of litter and then went around the aisle to get the canned food our boys like.
Of course, we have two picky-pusses. Smokey eats only tuna, and only one brand. No problem, got those. Hobbes will eat more variety (except he will not eat the fish that Smokey eats) but alternate meals must be Fancy Feast grilled chicken with gravy. It's the most popular flavour and they are sometimes out, but they had plenty this time. However - try as I might I could not reach the cans. They were on a shelf so high I could not even touch the edge of a can, and roll it off the shelf, or reach the edge of the cardboard tray they sat in.
I usually solve this problem by asking a nearby tall man to reach what I cannot. In this store that's a lot, because the top shelf is about seven and a half feet off the floor. But this time there was no one else in the aisle, nor in the next. I popped my head out at the end of the aisle and not a single soul was in sight - in the main aisle. I've never seen an empty aisle in this WalMart. It was spooky. I thought for a moment I had descended into WalMart Hell and was going to be trapped forever among the freakish "Rollback" happy faces.
At that instant a group of a dozen men rounded the end of the aisle across from me. A tall man led them, a man with a hundred dollar haircut, a fashionably immaculate 12 hour stubble and a black wool double-breasted Armani jacket with gold buttons. Some people reek of money and he was one of them. He was followed by a crowd of minions carrying clipboards, all shorter, plump, sweating, in shirt-sleeves with tails hastily tucked in from their last bathroom break and ties askew, each wearing the WalMart badge, each elbowing his fellow.
They were 10 feet away when I fixed my steely gaze on the tall man, pointed at him (yes, I know it's rude to point) and said in my, 'I-was-housemother-in-a-children's-home-and-kept-12-adolescent-boys-under-control' voice, "You!" He jerked up like a fish on a line. He looked around at the minions. None of them looked at him, they all were looking in open-mouthed astonishment at me.
I turned my pointing finger over and crooked it a couple times, signalling him to come to me. He was across the aisle in three steps, minions scuttling behind.
I pointed up at the inaccessible cat food, "See that cat food? I'd like to buy 20 cans of it, and I can't reach even one. In fact I can't reach anything on the top shelf in this store. You have lots of Asian women who shop here and this store is designed for giants!"
Mr. Money immediately confirmed I wanted 20 cans and began bringing them down. He turned briefly to the minions. "Do you see this shelf? All over the store. I want the shelves adjusted." He drew a line with the side of his hand about 10 inches lower than the top shelf. "Bring everything down so the top shelf can be reached by a lady of this height."
"Now," he said, "turning back to me," all undivided attention. "Can I get anything else for you, or can I provide any other help? Would you like the tray these were in?" He could have been modelling for Armani, if they used men instead of boys, instead of just striding around WalMart making the rest of us look like hill Williams.
I thanked him and said no, I could reach everything else I needed. He thanked me and strode away, minions schooling behind. I hope they do lower those damn shelves. (I'm going to have to start dressing better when I go to the WalMart. Should I put my teeth in? Am I too old to start wearing lipstick?)