Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nightmare at KMart

There are a number of places I won't go and going to a bigbox store is high on my list of places to avoid at all cost. I have never been inside a Wal-Mart, I have only been to Target once and that was because I'd heard an old friend was working there and I wanted to see her--she'd disappeared for all her friends, and I'd bet her working at Target was one of the reasons she wasn't answering her phone. But yesterday I got a call from my friend who has cancer and she wanted me to run an errand for her.

I've been trying to get Z to let me do something for her, so this call to run an errand was just what I wanted. That is, until she told me where she wanted me to go. She assured me that she'd called ahead and asked them if they had the panties she wanted in the size and color she wanted. Yes, they told her yes they did. They are lying bastards but I'll get back to that later.

Ms M was here when Z called and told me to tell her that the KMart was closed. But no, sadly they are still open. Z's call to check on the panties she says she always buys there confirmed that they were open since they answered the phone as KMart and informed her that they had the items in stock. So after chain smoking for twenty minutes and getting stoned, I headed out to KMart. The road Z told me to take was closed so I had to detour to another route. I found it and parked in their huge and nearly empty parking lot. When I walked in the door, I had a dizzy spell and felt like I was going to faint. First sign of a panic attack.

I tried to spot a human being who worked there and finally located one woman. She pointed me in the direction of "Intimate Apparel." It was only half a mile away. Once there I spotted the wall with the packages of panties. They were supposed to have Jockey briefs in four-packs, size 5. Jesus! Size 5? I don't think I've ever worn a size 5 women's panty. The last panties I bought were a size 7 and they're a bit snug now, so I graduate to a bigger size next time I go hunting for panties on sale. Anyway, there were no packs of any kind in the Jockey brand. They had Fruit of the Loom, Pink, and various other brands of panties in the style called "briefs." This is "old woman's panties" for you children. Once the wall of bagged panties had been searched over and over to my growing annoyance, I started in on the standing fixtures. No Jockey brand anything. I think of checking out the men's underwear, but finally decide that's pointless since even if they have the Jockey brand they won't have old ladies panties in the men's department.

I search the adjoining departments looking for someone who works in the store. Nada. Zip. Zero humans of any kind working or shopping. It is an almost empty big box store. I can feel myself growing angrier by the second. I'm starting to shake with rage. I want to stand there and just scream. But I get a grip and start the long march back to the checkout lines. In the middle of the check out lines there is one lone guy doing nothing. There are no customers to check out. He just stands there kind of loitering. As I get closer it looks to me like he is mentally handicapped. Since I am mentally handicapped I have some compassion. None of this is his fault and I can't be mad at him. I ask him to page someone to meet me in women's panties. He just looks confused, so I launch myself into the story of my errand. Finally he nods, and picks up the phone. I hear his voice go sailing out into the empty space. It seems to echo back at us. I head back to what he called "ladies panties." "Could someone please meet a customer in ladies panties?"

I wait what seems like five minutes or so shuffling from foot to foot, now loitering alone in ladies panties. Finally a very short, round, Hispanic woman approaches me. I tell her what I'm looking for and she does exactly what I did. She goes through the entire wall of panties and then says, "We must not carry them." I tell her about Z's call to confirm that they, KMart, not only carried them but had the four packs in the style and two colors she wanted and they had them in her size. She just looks at me and shrugs. I say, "Would you call my friend and tell her that you, a KMart employee, have told me, after a careful search, that no, you do not have the panties she called about and was told KMart carries and had in stock in her size?"

We head back to the front of the store where customer service is hidden in a cubby. She picks up a phone and asks me for Z's number. She calls. Z's son takes the call and the passes the phone to Z. The Hispanic clerk tells Z they don't have the panties she wants. Z tells her that she called and was told that they do to have her panties and tells her what they are. The clerk is nodding her head through all of this and then says, "Oh yes, we have those." I am gob stopped. I am standing there with my mouth hanging open. WTF? We both searched the place. No they don't have them. But now we trudge back across the store to the "intimate appearal department. We do the whole thing again. I find a pack of brand "Pink" old ladies white panties. They are 100% cotton. It's a six pack, not a four pack and there are no black "Pink" panties at all. So back we go, and this time I'm packing the six pack of brand Pink panties. Again the call. Again the discussion. Then I just reach over and take the phone. I tell Z exactly what's happened. She says, "But I don't understand it. I called. They said they had them. In my size." I tell her about the "Pink" panties and get her permission to buy them. It only takes ten minutes to ring them up.

When I leave the store with a bag clutched to my chest, I'm gasping for air and shaking with rage. It's taken over an hour to run an unsuccessful errand. I get lost looking for Z's street coming from a different direction. I'm lost in BFE.

When I get to Z's I've used a quarter of a tank of gas and my patience. I have no reserves. I must get myself under control so I don't bring bad energy into her house. I know how deadly my bad energy can be. So I do a little deep breathing on the front porch before I let myself in. I find her on the back porch surrounded by the three most competent men in her life. They are calm and sweet. By the time I leave, I feel almost normal again.