The Real Housewives of Walmart

So, I was at Walmart last Friday, and what do you know? Without meaning to, I had myself an experience.

Walmart was my last stop of the afternoon, and I had exactly 12 minutes to spare before I needed to be on the road again to pick up the boys from school, so my motions were very deliberate and timed as I moved through the store, picking up a dozen or so items before I stopped to grab a gallon of milk, my most essential purchase, and headed for the checkout. The quick checkout lanes were clearly mislabeled, so I chose what appeared to be the fastest regular lane with only one lady in line, who already had all of her few items on the conveyer belt. I can do this, I thought, with a couple of minutes to spare.

It was not one of my better calls.

You feeling me?

First, this lady had her purchases divided into three separate transactions, as I learned while I stood behind her. Then, after I had been there about 10 seconds, a boy walked up and asked if he could buy a Sierra Mist. The lady stopped, got out her wallet, and gave him money. Now, I’m not 100% sure of this, but based on the way she interacted with the boy, I think she might have been his young (but not too young, just younger on the scale of reasonable grandmother ages) grandmother.

The interesting thing about this exchange really was not the exchange itself, but rather the fact that the cashier stopped working while the lady I’ll hereafter refer to as “Young Grandma” and the boy carried out their business, and stared at them, mouth open. Once the boy got his money and left, the cashier returned to scanning the items.

Then, after approximately 15 seconds of returning to scanning and bagging, a girl approached Young Grandma and said, “I need $63.15.”

“What do you need $63.15 for?” asked Young Grandma.

“The food,” she answered, pointing toward one of those little restaurants within the store that I think was a sub restaurant.

Excuse me, but how does one spend over 63 dollars on subs in Walmart? The idea is almost unfathomable to me. No, seriously. I didn’t see anyone else with her, and the sub place looked empty.

“Well, how much do you have?” Young Grandma asked this time.

“I have 32 dollars,” the girl responded.

“Wow, you’re rich!” interjected the cashier, and I realized she’d stopped working again and was watching this latest exchange, mouth suspended open except when she spoke.

“Well, I’m just going to have to give you money for the difference, because it looks like the lady over there is waiting for you to pay her.” She fumbled with her purse and handed the girl some money.

Then, as the girl started walking away, Young Grandma mumbled to the cashier about how the two kids will be working for her for a long time to pay her back. The cashier smiled and then caught herself and started ringing up items again.

Suddenly, Sub Girl returned, and she announced that she just won’t buy the subs after all.

Excuse me? She just ordered $63 worth of subs and then, after they are made, she unorders them? “But the lady’s standing there waiting for you to pay for them!” exclaimed Young Grandma.

“Yeah, never mind, I just won’t get them,” Sub Girl decided. The cashier was riveted. As I would be too, frankly, having never unordered subs before, except for the fact that I was moving quickly into the Mom-that-is-late-in-the-pickup-line status if this kept up.

They continued back and forth about whether or not to purchase the subs, and the cashier stood frozen, careful not to start working and possibly miss anything. During this discussion, Young Grandma kept moving a few steps toward the sub place, wallet in hand, as if to go pay for the subs. But then, it was like she’d remember she still had to pay for her things, and she’d start back toward the cashier, fumbling with her wallet until something Sub Girl said made her start thinking about the subs again, I guess, and she’d start stepping back toward the sub place again.

It was very odd.

Finally, amid the ongoing discussion, she managed to hand the cashier a credit card and the cashier managed to swipe it while still keeping her eyes on the drama unfolding. At this point, I quickly moved forward, got the cashier’s attention long enough to have her check me out as well, and I headed for the parking lot. Last I saw, Young Grandma and Sub Girl were still hashing it out as they headed toward the sub place.

On my extremely efficient drive where I attempted, with moderate success, to pick up the boys on time, I was thinking about what had just happened, and something occurred to me.

Working at a big box store that gets lots of traffic has to be much like working in an office where they broadcast reality TV all day. Except it’s closer, with more characters.

And more live.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to work at Walmart with the added benefit of live reality TV episodes being played out right in front of your workstation? You like The Real Housewives of New Jersey, or Beverly Hills, or Atlanta? Check this out. And did I mention it’s live?

Yeah, girlfriend, you say your company offers dental and paid sick leave? Mine offers live reality TV, all day long. So who’s got the better job now, huh, huh?

The Real Housewives of Walmart would blow all the other Housewives away in terms of ratings. Because the thing is, when you go to Walmart, there’s just no façade needed, even for those of us who have standards, minimal as they may be. You can just be you, you know? So with everyone just walking around being themselves, with no “suggested” lines or “staged” central themes, and no editing, of course, anything can happen. It’s the Pandora’s box of reality TV.

You know, it dawned on me as I was writing this that I really could make this a series, this concept of The Real Housewives of Walmart. The scary part is I might actually be able to pull off the role of the “semi-normal” housewife. Which, trust me, never happens in any other area of my life.

8 Comment

  1. Monica says: Reply

    THAT was so completely funny!
    I have had a number of random experiences similar to that lately…only you captured it just too well! Great laugh, thanks!
    I think you should go for the t.v. show…and be a star in it.
    Aloha!

    1. Ha! Thanks. I’d like to think I don’t fit in with the overall theme they are going for with the real Real Housewives Shows, what with not having had multiple cosmetic enhancements or throwing lavish parties for my one-year-old and all. The Walmart version? I think I could swing that as a background narrator, or maybe as a host. It would be fun.

      Hopefully, you didn’t have any experiences like that during your weekend last weekend, however. 😉

  2. Hilarious! I never make it through the Wal-Marts without some kind of experience but never that interesting (think more physical damage). When you make this into a reality show, please offer streaming coverage. I’m pretty sure in one of my bouts of rampant insomnia, a drinking game would emerge. Or just drinking to numb the reality of the Housewives of the Wal-Marts…

    1. Oh, I love the idea of streaming coverage, because girlfriend, I could bring it. Walmart is just one giant drama waiting to unfold. I love it. Frankly, I wouldn’t even have to post anymore. I’d just go to Walmart and provide my own daily “documentary” of the experience, and it could even be live! Great, great idea!!

  3. Janel @ seven sisters says: Reply

    That was the funniest thing I’ve read all week! I was behind someone at a grocery store once who “returned” a turkey carcass after Thanksgiving. He told the service desk girl that it didn’t taste good but they “had to eat something!” I bet he shops at Wal-Mart too! Thanks for the laugh! (found you from a comment you left at a southern fairytale)

    1. I’m so glad you dropped by! That story is hilarious. I can’t wait to tell it to my husband. But it makes me wonder. If the claim was legitimate, that the turkey didn’t taste good, wouldn’t you rather eat a turkey-free Thanksgiving dinner than take the chance of getting a case of salmonella or something? From what I’ve heard, the salmonella outbreak would put a much bigger damper on the holiday than a feast without turkey. On the other hand, someone might just be a really bad cook and was attempting to save face by blaming the turkey itself. Too funny!

  4. Although I’ve yet to watch a Real Housewives of Anywhere, I would *so* watch Real Housewives of Wal-Mart. I cannot resist Train-Wreck Television. I used to work at a frozen yogurt shop at a mall in high school, and I can not tell you how many people would order a yogurt sundae, then turn up their nose and say “That’s OK.” before walking away. Don’t even get me started at having to accept payment that was foraged from someone’s brassiere.

    1. Well, it’s essentially all train-wreck TV from what little I’ve seen. It just depends on how flashy you want your trains to look while they are wrecking, essentially. I like the idea of the Walmart version because it would be such a cross-section of America, and, like I said before, no one feels the need to put on airs in Walmart. Just let it all hang out, baby.

      I worked at Mrs. Fields, also in a mall, in high school, and my favorite was when I’d wrap up and ring up a brownie, and someone would say, “Are you serious about the price? I could make a whole pan of brownies for that..” Then they’d walk away. While I agreed with their sentiment to an extent, I didn’t understand why they didn’t first read the sign or ask about the price when they ordered, instead of waiting until the end. Although, at least in those cases, the product wasn’t wasted.

Leave a Reply