Saturday, November 26, 2005

A tale of two Walmarts...and how I've lost my mind

Yesterday morning I woke up and went shopping. Not the 4am adventure I had planned...I was too tired to wake up and too comfortable snuggled up under my blankets to get out of bed. I did make it to Walmart by about 8:30am, in my quest for the advertised Thomas the Tank Engine two-pack (two engines for the price of one). Upon entering the store, I quickly headed directly back to the toy section as though I had blinders on, not to be distracted by the pretty shiny baubles marketed to us adults allegedly with disposable income (do these people not know that I would rather buy a toy for my three-year-old than some fancy gift-wrapped eau de cologne?).

Arriving at my destination, I found no holy Thomas the Tank Engine two-packs. I thought perhaps I could simply buy two individually packaged engines at the special price, so I grabbed two and took them up to the register. At the self checkout, however, they both rang up individually and I knew I was sunk. I voided the transaction and headed to the nearest attended register.

The cashier rang them up and they came up individually again. I asked if these were the ones that were on sale...two for $9.88? She sighed and, sounding rather irritated, told the embarassed looking young trainee standing next to her, "First we have to find it in the ad." She took the ad, smacked it down on her register conveyor and started flipping pages, looking rather bored with it all. She snapped at me, "Was it in the special section?" I told her no, it was in the regular sale circular for the week. She flipped it open to that page and the trainee, obviously feeling sorry for me at this point, declared, "There it is!" and pointed to the advertised special.

The cashier looked at me and said flatly, "That's a special two-pack." When asked if they had any of those, she snarled, "I don't know, you're the first to ask." While I find that statement hard to believe, it was clear she was not going to help me any further, so I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Okaaaayyy..." and I wandered back to the toy section again, starting to sweat. It was warm in the store, but I knew that I was overheating in a different way. I held it together long enough to put the individual train engines back on the shelf, ask for help from a toy associate (who was equally unhelpful), look through two more aisles for myself, and leave the store empty-handed. As I headed for the door, my steps came quickly in rhythm with my breathing.

In that moment, there was no greater disappointment for this mother than to fail on my Christmas shopping trip early on the morning after Thanksgiving for the ONE gift I know my son will LOVE. I was dejected...disappointed...sad...embarassed. The logical part of my brain was telling me that it was no big deal, I would find something else to wrap and put under the tree on Christmas morning. But there I was, rushing from the store, nearly in tears.

And then I couldn't find my car.

It's a SuperWalmart, but still...I couldn't find my damn car. At that point, hysteria found me. I had failed. I failed at shopping, I failed at parking and finding my car like normal people...I was never like this before...I failed at being a mother to BOTH boys. A miserable failure. Can you see where this train of thought headed?

I wandered around for a few minutes, tried to open the door to a car that looked like mine but wasn't mine, and grew increasingly upset. I elicited some strange looks from a man loading his two boys into their SUV when I said, obviously out loud and not in my head as intended, "What is happening to me?"

Thankfully, I found my car before having a complete breakdown in the slushy parking lot. I climbed in, sat in the driver's seat, and took several deep breaths to avoid hyperventilating over the stress of it all...the weight of my failures.

The breakdown was fleeting...come and gone in less than twenty minutes. I collected myself and headed off to Joann's for some great fabric deals. I missed the 9am deadline for the 20% additional discount and had to settle for 10%. Turns out those twenty minutes of mental distortion cost me money. gah! But, I was still able to buy some flannel for $0.96 a yard (regularly $3.99 a yard) and some yarn at a great discount. Plus, I was lucky enough to find yarn of the same dye lot as some previously purchased and being used to crochet a shawl for my mom for Christmas (she knows...I'm not blowing any big surprise by posting it here).

I headed home with my purchases...realizing they were all for me. I hadn't gotten a thing for Sam. sigh

When I arrived home I told Steve about the rude cashier and the unhelpful sales associate at Walmart. I left out the part about the breakdown, but I think he may have instinctively known, because he picked up the phone and called other Walmarts to find the elusive gift. He called the Walmart in Erie, PA and the woman said, "Yes, we have two left." Steve was disappointed and simply said, "Oh," thinking there was no way we could get there in time to get them. The woman said, "Well, are you going to come get them?" Steve explained that it would take us at least two hours to get there (he and Sam had yet to get showered or dressed for the day). Then the woman said something that makes me believe in the magic of Christmas again. She told Steve that she would put them behind the sporting goods counter and if we came in before the end of the day, we could have them. Later in the day, when we arrived at sporting goods, there was even a note on them saying, "Hold for Stephen."

My brave and handsome husband sorted it out and made it all good again. This is the story of my life. So I will get the joy of watching our boy open those packages on Christmas morning. Our boy will get the joy of opening those packages on Christmas morning. And maybe I'll have eluded a complete psychotic break for another day.


Julie said...

So glad it worked out. And I still hate WalMart. Really.
I know what you mean about those mini-breakdowns that hit when the last straw finally lands and you're left with a quivering mound of mush. WTG Steve! :)

Jill said...

I hope you tell Sam this story one day. Kids are always convinced you don't love them as much as you do but how could he ever doubt how imortant he is after such an ordeal??

Dana said...

Ugh! Sorry about the rude employees at Walmart, but yay that you were able to get the train engines!! Sam will be thrilled. I clearly remember the train days. ;)