Another Shopping Debacle

If I ever kill anyone, it will probably be while shopping. There are so many things about shopping that drive me crazy, I could write a manifesto.

Just recently, I had to go pick up some medication at the Walmart pharmacy. I was already wary of the experience, having stewed in the pharmacy line before until the lid blew off my pressure cooker.

I’d learned to avoid the pharmacy nightmare on weekends, or late in the day, when the line gets long. The best time to go, I’d figured out, was on a weekday in the morning or early afternoon, when the line was usually short.

I’d also tried to grease the channels by calling in my prescription the day before. With these precautions, the waters of pharmacopoeia should be smooth sailing. Or so I thought.

On this particular morning, when I arrived at the drug dispensary, there was only one person in line in front of me, an older man. I didn’t see how it could take very long with only one person ahead of me. Boy, was I wrong.

But because it was a slack time, Walmart only had one person waiting on customers, though I counted at least a dozen people at work in the pharmacy that day. The one and only checkout person quickly dealt with a women at the counter and then signaled to the old man in front of me. The old man stepped forward to be helped. I moved to the front on the line, anticipating I would soon be out of there.

But there was some kind of problem with the old man’s order. He kept talking to the clerk and the clerk kept trying to solve the problem, whatever it was.

Have you ever noticed how time slows down when you’re in line somewhere? I think that’s what Einstein meant when he said time is relative. For example, if you’re watching a good movie, ten minutes can go by and you won’t even notice that any time passed at all. But if you’re standing in line waiting somewhere, ten minutes feels like an hour.

I stood there bemoaning my bad luck to myself. Behind me the line was building, bad vibes bouncing off my back. The clerk kept struggling. All the other people working in the pharmacy seemed blissfully ignorant to what was going on.

But finally, just as I was about to brain hemorrhage, another clerk showed up and opened a second register. Thank you, Jesus. I stepped up to claim my drugs.

As always, the clerk demanded my date of birth. To me this is clearly an invasion of privacy. Never mind, you can’t fight the system. I gave it to him and he went off to look for my order.

He came back after a while and said he couldn’t find it. I pointed out to him that I had called it in the day before to the automated system and had been assured by a computer generated voice that it was ready to pick up. Let me go look on the computer, he said and left again. Meanwhile, the old man was still occupying the only other register that was open. Maybe he was part of the occupy movement or something.

After a while, my guy came back. But as he was walking by the other register, the other clerk grabbed him and sought his help with the old man’s problem. Now the old man was monopolizing both clerks. I felt totally abandoned. If I’d had a gun with me, that would have been when I’d have lost control and started firing.

I make the mistake of looking back at the people in line about then, and they looked like they were ready to kill also, and I was one of their targets.

I stood there at the register and stared daggers at the old man and the two clerks trying to help him. I think they felt my heated gaze, because after another eon or so, one of the clerks managed to break away from the parlay and come help me. It wasn’t my guy. He stayed with the old man. It was the other guy who had originally been on the other register.

Of course, he didn’t know my situation, so I had to explain the whole thing to him, give him my info, including my ancient date of birth, all over again. Let me go look for it, he said, assuming I and the other clerk were both idiots. I thought he was only half right.

He came back after a while and said he couldn’t find it. The people still in line were setting up tents. Let me go look on the computer, he said and left again.

He came back about a year later and told me triumphantly that he had found my order, but for some reason it was in some kind of limbo status. It had been placed on hold, he said. But we can fill it. It should be ready in about 45 minutes.

I gave up and left Walmart, and the distant memory of fresh air and sunshine as I walked to my car calmed me some, enough that I decided not to get the revolver out of my trunk and go back into the store.

Instead, I got in my car and drove away, upset that the whole blasted fiasco was going to make me late for my anger management therapy.