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Thursday, November 04, 2004

Supermarket Shuffle 

THREE A DAY!
*clank*
THREE A DAY!
*clank*
MILK, CHEESE, YOGURT!
MILK, CHEESE, YOGURT!


Saturday, October 30th, 2004. Approximately 10:30 AM. I was standing in the grocery section of the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Meridian, MS near one of those television sets suspended from the ceiling. For the second time since I had walked in, I was assaulted by the cacophony of CHILDREN SINGING. Horribly off key and out of synch, they sang about their "three a day" to the tune of "Three Blind Mice", and were backed by a cow bell. It was like a study in how to make a jingle as abrasive as possible.

I promptly shot them the bird.

It had all started around an hour earlier. My parents asked me to go to Wal-Mart for them to pick up a few items. Nothing major, just some TV dinners, three cartons of soft drink, some nasal spray, and a sack of cat food. Nothing about this is unusual; I've done this type of thing many times before. But for some reason, this day's trip was a journey into banal absurdity. Or absurd banality, take your pick.

After an uneventful drive, I arrived at the perpetually busy superstore. I parked near the outer edge of the lot, as I am wont to do, and started to walk towards to big "Always" sign. Suddenly I hear a fit of uncontrolled laughter. I turn to see two young black women backing away from their car, laughing. It took me awhile to figure out that they were laughing at the car itself. It was a normal looking blue Chevrolet Lumina, nothing at all unusual. But the two of them apparently thought it was the funniest thing they had ever seen. One of them started backpedaling from laughing so hard and walked in front of an oncoming car, the driver of which blew his horn. The honking seemed to knock them back to reality. Still giggling, one of them started carting an empty shopping cart to a buggy corral, and the other started unlocking the car. I shrugged it off, then entered the building. As soon as I did, I heard:

THREE A DAY!
*clank*
THREE A DAY!
*clank*


I grabbed a shopping cart, and as I started wheeling it back into the store, I caught sight of a teenage girl lying on the bench outside of the in-store McDonald's (the same one I worked at for a few miserable months, but that's another story). The bench has a life-sized fiberglass Ronald McDonald sitting on it, and she had her head buried in his lap. Needless to say, the scene looked rather provocative. Suddenly Ronald's smile took on a whole other meaning. Randy bastard.

I continued into the store, got the TV dinners, and started towards the back of the grocery section. I suddenly caught sight of the word "lush". Naturally, I had to stop and take another look. Turns out it was "Wisp". The air freshener.

How the hell did I get "lush" out of that?

I continued to the back of the store, and suddenly the thought of Lush Air Freshener hit me. I immediately snorted, chuckled, and tried desperately to control my laughter. But it was no use: I broke into a guffaw. Everyone around me started staring at me as if I was laughing to myself for no reason. I wonder why...

So I get the drinks, and start towards the pharmacy, and then pass under the suspended TV. That brings us back to the beginning of the story. Goddamn singing kids.

After dodging my way through loads of old people, most of which were moving like pulp-wood trucks going up Mt. Everest, I finally made it to the pharmacy. I get the nose spray, and as I'm leaving, I get stuck in a sort of buggy traffic jam. As I'm standing and waiting for everyone to get out of my way, a little kid catches my eye. A goofy looking little blonde toddler, sitting in the top shelf of the cart, with his fat-assed young mother standing nearby. His mouth, which was smeared with chocolate (I hope it was chocolate), was agape, and he was pointing at me. Children. I hate children.

"What the fuck are you pointing at you little shit?" I suddenly thunder.

The mother jumps in surprise and turns to me. "Excuse me?"

"Not you. Your friggin' kid."

Suddenly she's nettled. "Nuh-uh. You won't talk to my child that way."

"Oh won't I?" I shoot back. "I just did, and if the little turd-burglar doesn't stop pointing at me, I'll not only continue to talk to him in that way, but I'll probably end up chopping off his nuts and eating them with ketchup."

"You won't lay a finger on him, you fuck!" she exclaims, her exasperation suddenly turning into thinly veiled misgiving. "How dare you!"

"Well tell him not to point at people, slutbag. If you don't teach him manners, I will."

The child promptly lowers his pointed finger and starts crying. His mother reaches over to cater to him, and I smile the smile of a man fulfilled.


"Excuse me".

Snapping out of my trance, I turn to see a smiling older lady behind me. "I need to get around", she continued.

"Oh, right," I said quietly as I moved aside and let her through. I turned back to the kid, who was still pointing at me, and whose mother still wasn't paying attention. Seeing an opening in the crowd past them, I push through and get to the aisle with the cat food.

On my way through the checkout line, an old man just manages to beat me to the one non-crowded express lane. He has an entire shopping cart FULL of prune juice. Nothing but prune juice. After the old coot has unloaded every bleeding one and the checkout girl has rung them up, she says to him, smiling:

"Nineteen. You just did make below twenty items."

The old man laughed. I didn't.

On my way out of the store, my first thought was "That was weird". Looking back now, I realize that some of the weirdest parts happened in my own head. Maybe it's not the world that's screwed up. Maybe it's me.

If you're reading through all of this, wondering why I'm sharing this, I'll leave you with this. The point I'm trying to make is that ultimately there is no point to be made.

That's all.

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