Wild Musk and Wal-Mart

It all started with a broken bottle of perfume.  For a few days now the air in the bathroom has been greatly improved by the intense aroma of Wild Musk for Women.  In my haste to get out the door, I knocked it off of the shelf and it shattered on the tile in a puddle of golden liquid and shards of glass.  I might have been upset if it had been an expensive bottle of perfume, like the Bal a’ Versailles’ by Jean Desprer from Paris, that Pedro likes to buy me on special occasions. But that bottle is empty and since I had just gotten the musk at Wal-Mart a few weeks ago as a cheap replacement, the $11.99 loss was painlessly absorbed by putting it on my list for the next trip to the store.

Have you tried to buy perfume lately at Wal-Mart?  They keep it locked up with the razors in the health and beauty section.  On the first trip there I was lucky enough to find a “consultant” in the next aisle stocking eye shadow and mascara.  She was a nice lady who gladly opened the cabinet so I could get my perfume.  Since the store renovations began a few months ago I have felt like every trip to Wal-Mart can easily become a fiasco.  I usually feel like a lost puppy searching for my missing bone that I can’t find anywhere and I wander around aimlessly looking for it, consoling myself that at least I’m getting the exercise I badly need.  By the time I get home I’m all tuckered out and badly need a nap!  I felt relieved that on this trip, at least, I got in and out of the store without incident.

In a rare burst of Saturday morning energy that is usually sacred sleeping in time, Pedro and I decided to get up early, hit the community-wide yard sale in Goose Creek (and any others we could find along the way), eat a pancake and sausage breakfast to support a fundraiser at Fatz Cafe, and then end our morning excursion at Wal-Mart to get my Wild Musk and other essentials (like ingredients for a taco salad I was going to make for a pot-luck dinner that night).

It was a beautiful, pleasant morning and I found a few treasures: two plump cherub statues, one is sleeping and the other reading a book, to put on the shelf in my writing room (a former bedroom that became available when our sons moved out); a scrapbook with brown paper pages to keep my printed Snippets blogs in (I loved that the brown paper matches the brown paper background of the blog!); a tapestry pillow of two hummingbirds in the midst of pink flowers to put in the rocking chair (the one I rocked my babies in that is also in my writing room); and a black suede jacket that fits perfectly (all I need now is a cold day to wear it!).  After the delicious pancakes with strawberries, sausage, and coffee, I was feeling armed and ready for our last stop at Wal-Mart.

With our shopping nearly done and the cart almost full we headed across the store to get the perfume.  Once again I felt lucky that another nice consultant was nearby.  She gladly opened the cabinet and I picked up the perfume.  She locked the cabinet door and put her hand out for the perfume.  “I’ll be happy to take that to Lawn and Garden or Aisle 14 for you,” she said.  I must have looked at her as puzzled as I felt and was thinking, “No thanks, I’m sure I can handle it from here.”  Now if she was offering to carry the 20 lb. bag of dog food that would’ve made sense but the 10 oz. bottle of perfume was no trouble at all.

She explained, “We have to escort customers to the register now with perfumes and razors since we  have had a lot of theft.”  I sarcastically thought, “Okay, nice lady, whatever you need to do,” but I joked with her and said, “Well, okay, Aisle 14 then.  This is starting to feel like I’m at airport security.”  She tersely smiled and as we walked to the check-out lines, she enlightened me further on how Wal-Mart continues to offer the lowest prices by reducing incidents of stolen merchandise so that those costs don’t have to be absorbed by the customers.  I wondered who was absorbing the costs of all the store renovations that were driving me crazy.  I suspect the COMPLETE rearrangement of merchandise is to make customers lost, frustrated, and weak so they will need to buy MORE stuff to make them feel better.  For all my trouble, I may decide I deserve the $75 bottle of perfume instead of the $11.99 bottle.

As the nice lady consultant escorted us to Express Aisle 1 for 10 items or less, I had to point out to her that we had more items than that.  (I mean, did she not notice the cart piled high with the 20 lb. bag of dog food that my husband was pushing beside us as she enlightened me on the newest store policies?).  Then she escorted us to Express Aisle 4 for 20 items or less but she changed her mind since we OBVIOUSLY had more than 20 items.  She finally took us to Aisle 17 after passing by Aisle 14 where there was no light on and nobody appeared to be home.  At Aisle 17 there were TWO consultants helping a lady in front of us and at first I silently groaned because if it took two consultants, I assumed there was either a problem or, God forbid, a price check was required.  Fortunately, the lady was checked out without incident and it was soon our turn.

The cashier consultant had already been given the perfume and she rang up our purchases while the other one bagged them.  A manager came over to watch and I quietly quipped to Pedro, “He must be back-up in case you try to assault the consultant and run off with the perfume!”  We got through the line quickly and headed out of the store.  An elderly greeter consultant (a.k.a. undercover security guard) stopped us near the exit and asked to see the receipt.  Pedro patted his pockets and shrugged his shoulders like he lost it while I clearly had it in my hand and offered it to the lady.  She laughed at him and I told her “He can be quite the smart mouth.”  She quickly glanced at the receipt and handed it back to me.  “Have a nice day!” she said with a smile.

Then it happened.  Just when we thought we’d get out without a fiasco, a fiasco happened.  We walked through the security gate and the alarm went off!  “BEEP!  BEEP!! BEEEEPPPP!!!  The LOUD alarm caused everyone to stop and look at us.  The only thing missing was a flashing, glaring searchlight shining on us!  Pedro and I kidded around and put our hands up in the air in an act of surrender.  I told him, “Now we’ve done it!”  The elderly greeter “hurried” over to us, looking at us suspiciously.  I told her, “It’s probably the bottle of perfume we bought.”  I handed her the receipt and she said, “Yep, there it is right there.”  I figured we were free to go but, no, she needed to SEE the bottle of Wild Musk for Women (and I was literally ready to become one – a wild woman, that is, as I searched through all the bags to find it!)  She took it with the receipt to the nearest check-out and removed the security alarm tag from the bottom that the TWO consultants AND the manager overlooked removing on Aisle 17.  We got the perfume back and left.

Thank God for homeland security that makes a trip to Wal-Mart feel like an airport security check.  It is so nice to know illegal contraband like perfumes and razors are safer now in America than ever before.  I may feel like a criminal but at least the prices are low and I can smell nice.  BEEP!  BEEEEP!  BLEEEEP!

When I got home I put the bleepin’ bottle of perfume IN the bleepin’ basket on the shelf in the bleepin’ bathroom so I, hopefully, won’t have to go through that again any time soon!  Our mantra that helped us survive parenting will now help us survive shopping:  “Give me humor or give me death.”  That night, after the potluck supper, as we sat in a Latin Night Jazz Concert downtown and enjoyed the fantastic music, I felt the dust of the day melt away, just as the host said it would in his welcome.  There is way more to enjoy in life than is worth “sweating over the small stuff” but sometimes it helps to vent before letting it go.  Oh, by the way, “Have a nice day!” 🙂   

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