One of my private little pleasures, having moved to a much more populated part of New England, is the ability to get all of my shopping done without needing to go to Walmart. I suppose I could have avoided the Walmart in New Hampshire, but it would have meant spending a lot more time, energy, gas, etc., driving to different stores… we in Rochester had the dubious honor of housing the largest Walmart in New England, and they just stocked everything. So each time I had to go, I would squelch that little voice in my head (oddly, it sounded a lot like my mother) that would lecture about Walmart’s business practices, censorship, damaging small business, and so on, and I’d get what I needed and escape again.
Since moving here over two months ago, I’d been able to completely avoid Walmart altogether. I’m sure Target isn’t all that much better in terms of helping mom-and-pop operations or what have you, but I just like the store better. Between that and the various specialty stores, malls, and so on, I was buying what needed to be bought without adding to Sam Walton’s bank account. Yippee.
But, this past Tuesday, I couldn’t avoid it. I’ve been working on some shopping bags for my grandmother (and, Nonny, I am so sorry they’re so late, I’m doing my best, honest!) and ran out of yarn. We’d picked up the dishcloth cotton she’d chosen at a Walmart in New York, when I was staying with her over the summer, and I thought my best chance for finding the same colorway was to hit up another Walmart.
Turns out they didn’t stock it – they stock a total of four colors of cotton yarn at this one, which is not a huge shock because the entire store has like a Walmart-in-miniature sort of feel to it – and so the trip felt wasted.
As I was leaving, I paused under the overhang to close my purse, pull on my raincoat, and generally prepare to wade back out into the New England rainstorm. I saw a woman walking toward the store, perhaps 60, wearing a lot of khaki and just this side of frumpy, carrying a neon green umbrella. She walked down the side of the parking lot lane – a not unremarkable effort, since most Massachusetts pedestrians seem to forget the existence of cars as soon as they leave their vehicle, and thus wander, slowly and distracted, smack down the middle of the lane – and a car abruptly backed out of its spot, directly into her.
She didn’t fall down, though it did take her all the way out of both of her shoes. She took a moment, presumably to do that quick whole-body attendance call to make sure nothing was hurt, and proceeded to go all Britney Spears on the car, thwacking it with her umbrella and screaming at the driver loudly enough that I – hard of hearing, 50 feet away, in a driving rain – could hear some of what she said. The woman has a gift for marrying unexpected expletives.
And then she stopped, stepped back into her shoes, attempted to smooth out her now-inside-out umbrella, and continued her walk to the store as though nothing had happened. The car remained as-is for perhaps a minute more, and then continued to back out and drive away, without anyone bothering to check for umbrella-inflicted damage.
It was one of those small but awesome events where you really wish you’d brought someone to the store with you, just to be able to turn to them and say, “Wow.”
Perhaps not an entirely wasted trip, after all.