Days Without a Cigarette: 11.51597222
Days Without Nicotine: 0
Dollars Saved: -$14.18 (had to buy a second box of patches today)
Word of warning: Most of this post is just gonna be me bitching about a shitty trip to Walmart.
I’m not likely to get a better candidate for the day I give up and light up a fucking cigarette. This morning was the third time I’d gone into that store, each time for the same item. And it’s not like they don’t have it. They do. I can see it. But it’s sitting behind plexiglas with a lock on it and a little button that says “ring for service.”
See, I already more or less did my Christmas shopping and I’m pretty happy with what I got my wife, but it’s kinda generic. Like, if Scott Bakula Quantum Leaped into my body just as I was getting out of the car at the mall and saw “buy Christmas presents for wife” was the last thing on my to do list, he might have gotten her the same shit. It’s good stuff, but it’s not very personal. So I’ve got it in my head that I need one more gift… doesn’t have to be big one… that has “Lucinda” written all over it.
And then I see one in the electronics department at Walmart, sitting there, teasing me from behind a half inch acrylic wall. It’s not even particularly expensive. So I look around to see if there’s an employee nearby that can get it for me, but it’s Saturday afternoon the weekend before Christmas, so of course there isn’t.
And that’s on me. I get it. I stand there ringing the bell every minute or so for five or six minutes, but I figure the employees are run ragged at the moment and it’s probably gonna take forever to get to me. So I decide to come back when it’ll be a little more convenient for them. The Walmart here is open 24 hours, I’m a night owl, so I decide to come back at one in the morning or something, when they’ll be emptied out a bit.
So I do. And I have the exact same experience, only longer. This time I stand there for over ten minutes, ringing the bell every minute or so. I wander about a little, looking for employees, but on the occasion that I find them, they excuse themselves by uttering “I don’t work in this department” and scamper off without offering to fetch someone who does. After ten minutes plus of this, I give up and leave again. This time I tell myself that I must’ve stopped by too late. There’s probably one guy working the electronics department and I caught him at lunch or something. They probably don’t have their best employees working the overnights on Saturday anyway, so maybe I chose a poor time. So I elected to come back a third time, this time nice and early in the morning before the store starts to crowd up.
So this morning I get up early. I don’t really have to get up early, but I do. I get up a little after seven am (I normally get up around nine), feed the cats, hop in a quick shower, I’m at the Walmart before eight. I’ve literally planned my entire goddamn day around a trip to Walmart, but what am I gonna do? Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve and there’s no other store within an hour’s drive that sells this item because Walmart already put all the electronics stores around here out of business.
And by now, of course, I know exactly where I’m going. Hell, I even know the short cuts. So I b-line across the store to the item I’m after and I ring the bell. And then I start thinking maybe that bell isn’t the one that gets their attention, so I ring another nearby bell as well. And then I wait.
Now, my plan here was to just camp out. I damn near brought a lunch. So for five minutes, I patiently ring the bell. And when that doesn’t conjure up any keys, I go around to the counter in the department. And, again, it’s two days before Christmas, so even at eight am, there’s a line. So I says “can I get some help over here?” to the cashier, who’s in the middle of doing six things, and she nods to me as if to say “as soon as I can get to it.”
Five minute later, I’m still waiting. I’ve hit the bell a few more times, but more out of habit than any real belief it was making any difference. And five minutes later, I’m still waiting.
Now, ‘fifteen minutes’ doesn’t sound very long. And it doesn’t sound like long, because any time somebody’s waiting for two minutes they say “I was waiting there for, like, fifteen minutes.” But I timed this shit. I knew what I was getting into, after all, so I checked the time when I first rang the bell. It was 7:54. My last bell ring was at 8:09. That’s an insanely long time to be standing in an aisle in an effort to give someone else money. If they were giving me money, maybe I’d feel different. But I was the one with the fucking money in this situation.
At this point, I felt like I had three choices. One was to just lean on that fucking bell. I could here the little ‘ding’ somewhere in the distance when I did it, so I could just hit it repeatedly until someone came scrambling out with a hand full of their own hair. That was option one, but I’ve worked jobs like that. It’s not the guy listening to the bell’s fault that they’re understaffed. I’d just be fucking with an overworked person a couple days before Christmas if I did that.
The second option was to start pretending to steal shit. This works pretty well in my experience, especially in the electronics department. Nobody gives much of a shit about a customer standing in the aisle waving half a dozen twenty dollar bills screaming “someone please take this from me in exchange for goods or services”, but if they think you’re stealing, they usually come quick. Of course, they also call the cops and then you’ve gotta explain to the cops that it was the only way to make an employee show up. And the cops get it, but ultimately going through that process takes so damn long I might actually summon somebody with the bell quicker.
My third option, the one I took, was to leave. My third option was to, for the third fucking time, leave that store empty handed because the assholes who run it don’t give enough of a shit about their customers to fulfill the absolute minimum obligation of ‘being a store.’
So I call Lucinda, my rock, and filled her in on my morning so that I didn’t have to walk through Walmart just yelling “Fuck this fucking store and it’s fucked ass bullshit” to myself. Because damn it, if the Walmart employees couldn’t see me, they were gonna fucking hear me. And that was nice. It was nice to walk by customer service saying “I’d love to give these fucknuts some fucking money but they won’t fucking take it”, and it was even nicer walking by the Salvation Army bell ringer saying “…these monkey fuckers can lick my sweaty asshole…”
But as cathartic as that might have been, it wasn’t enough. And I got back in the car frustrated as all fuck. Screaming levels of frustrated. Ripping my hair out levels of frustrated. Far more frustrated than ‘inability to make required Christmas purchase’ justified. And I REALLY needed a goddamn cigarette. On the way home I even needed to stop by the pharmacy and pick up another box of nicotine patches and stare at that display of cigarettes behind the cashier as I did so.
But I didn’t smoke. And, to be honest, as much as I wanted one, I can’t even say that I was really tempted. I’ve got too much momentum. In fact, the only real reason I’m even blogging about it is because I’m still pissed off at Walmart and wanted to use the word ‘fuck’ a lot in describing my aborted effort to buy something there. I mean, I have to bitch to you about it, because it’s not like there’s a single person in that store or in that corporation that gives the feeblest squirt of a shit about the customer experience. They’ve concocted this bizarre system of spite retail where the people on both sides of the transaction can be maximally miserable and they still make money in naked defiance of Adam Smith. And they exist just so that when the retail sector finally does die, we the people will dance on its grave in unabashed revelry.