Am I the only person in this country who needs a Walmart Warning regarding shopping the day before school? For most of the people I know, Walmart is the store of last resort as it was for me today. You know that if you can’t find it anywhere else, it’s probably at Walmart. Right? I think? It never occurred to me that I might be entering a danger zone of screaming, crying little people. But I was on a mission.
My house is getting new floors and the first night I was able to move back home, I discovered how dirty my new out-of-the-box floor planks were. I’d taken a damp rag and swiped at a streak that I hoped would come up. It did, but the rag also swept up a wide swath of grime. Oh my word! Before I could sleep, I swept and cleaned the floor with a wet rag, but in the morning realized there was more to be done. It had to be thoroughly mopped.
My old mop had a big sponge that I like, but alas, the sponge is worn out and so began the hunt for a replacement. I went to three stores. No luck. I could buy a whole new mop, but there were no re-fills. So I bit the bullet and went to the “Super Walmart” near me. My last resort. If I couldn’t find it here, it probably didn’t exist.
The full parking lot gave me pause, but I was undeterred. As I neared the door, I was beset by families with small children alternately skipping with glee, being carried by parents or simply dragged along howling. It wasn’t until I was inside and ran into several thousand people clogging the “back to school” aisles that I realized school starts tomorrow. Well, perhaps several thousand is an exaggeration, but not much.
Those same children were either gleefully grabbing things off shelves, trying to clamber out of the shopping cart or just standing there crying. Phrases like “but, sweetheart, wouldn’t you rather have a Kermit the Frog backpack? Everyone will have the Spider-Man backpack [we know this because they are sold out] and you will be the only one with Kermie!” floated in the air.
I dodged children as I made my way to the “housewares” section and looked in vain for mops. In the meantime, children were running — running — through the store playing chase and hide-and-seek while their parents were consulting lists and grabbing items off they rapidly emptying shelves. After much searching, I found an employee hiding in the auto-parts section, and asked about mops. “Oh, those are in the grocery section,” he said pointing toward the other side of the store, approximately 1/4 mile away. (Did I mention that this is a Super Walmart?) I began the trek, once again fighting my way through the crowd of harassed parents and obstreperous children.
“I want a Little Mermaid lunchbox,” a tiny tot insisted, as mother reached into the big bin. “How about Elsa,?” her mother asked, holding out a pretty blue one. “Little Mermaid!” the child repeated. Mother returned to fishing looking tired and desperate.
“Spider-man! Spider-man!” a pair of boys chant as dad searches the shelves.
“Why do they have to have a new backpack every year?” he snarls at his wife. “I went all through elementary school with the same backpack.” She shrugs — there is no rational answer.
Once I’m safely in the mercifully deserted brooms-and-mops aisle, I discover that there are no sponge refills for the O-Cedar mop. There are refills for every other kind, but not the sponge. By now I’m tired and cranky (and this is without children) and decide to bite the bullet and buy the whole new mop. I’m not going to yet another store.
I grab the mop and then decide that as long as I’m here I might get a couple of other things — like popcorn. The popcorn shelf is empty. Dratted kids. Oh, well, there is a jar of Orville Redenbacher for $3.99 but I’m perfectly happy with the generic kind for 1/3 the price. But perhaps I can save myself a trip to PetSmart and get the cat food. I look in vain for pet food and finally corner an employee re-arranging the bottles in the wine section. No kids there. “Oh, that’s clear over on the other side of the store,” he points to where I’d already been looking for mops. I tell you, this is starting to feel like a vast right-wing conspiracy. Or maybe left wing. Who knows? Who cares? I’m tired. I want to go home to my dirty floors.
I’m heading back to the front of the store, debating the wisdom of the 1/4 mile trek to get cat food, when a little girl streaks past me gleefully brandishing a pair of pencil boxes decorated with Disney characters while her mother chases after.
No, I tell myself, I don’t want to enter that war zone again. I get to the check-out and mercifully, the self-checkout is not crowded. I buy the stupid mop, wend my way through the parking lot, dodging cars and kids, and carefully — oh so carefully — back out.
Once home, I realize that I could’ve put off the mop for one more day when the kids would all be in school, but too late now. The irony of it all is, I’m too tired to start mopping anyway. I’ll do it tomorrow. Right now I’m going to join the cat and stretch out on the couch. The dirty floors will have to stay dirty one more night.