Are you one of those folks who gravitates toward fun houses and haunted houses at fairs and amusement parks? Are you a people watcher? Do you get a charge out of watching “Cops,” Steven Seagal: Lawman,” “The Jerry Springer Show,” or “Cheaters?” Do you spend your Friday lunch hours as a spectator in New Hanover County Domestic Court?
You do? Well, please allow me to point you toward Nirvana: The Smithfield North Carolina Wal-Mart.
Now for the caveat: I in no way, shape or form, in this plane of existence or elsewhere endorse shopping at Wal-Mart. I feel like a total failure if I can’t stretch out at least a year between visits. My personal best was 3 years and I only broke the boycott because my godson needed something that was only available at Hell-Mart. Furthermore, I am not a “Wal-Mart Shopper.” I do not browse. I take a surgical strike approach: Get in, get what I need and get the hell out.
As far as I am concerned, Wal-Mart is the Evil Empire that is decimating the moms and pops in addition to the environment and I actually felt my soul being sucked out of my body one time in the parking lot.
As I alluded to in earlier posts, Scott and I moved to Smithfield, North Carolina so that I could go to law school. To put it mildly, it was a nerve rattling, borderline catastrophic culture shock. I am a beach girl who is used to a beach town.
In spite of the trauma of the move, there was one fantastic thing about becoming a Johnston County resident: My Peace Sister and her husband who’d set up housekeeping about fifteen minutes away. Oh yes, we had some fine times back then and, believe it or not, some of them were at the Smithfield Wal-Mart.
As the result of wrapping up old employment and starting new employment, Scott had to stay in Wilmington a little longer than me, so our friends really helped us out with getting us settled in our new home. We had to go to Wal-Mart for a couple of things we needed and I remember them taking me aside and telling me that I needed to put on my big girl pants and be brave for my inaugural visit to the Smithfield Wal-Mart.
Mind you, I’d been to a Wal-Mart. Just the year before, I’d stood in the middle of the Wilmington Wal-Mart at Christmas and threatened to call the Fire Marshall about all of the crap they had stuck out in the aisles, but I had no idea about what was in store for me.
Sweet. Baby. Jesus.
While we were looking for a place to park, we witnessed a wreck between a person driving a cruck (El Camino) and a rust adorned Buick sedan sporting a bumper sticker that I can only assume was a response to the “What Would Jesus Do?” bumper stickers that were the craze at the time: “WWJD? Get the hell out of my way!”
Charming, n’est-ce pas?
When I took Scott for his first visit to the Hell-Mart, we were still in the parking lot when we saw a Whipett dog sitting in a car and wearing a full clown costume complete with the little pointy hat. We also saw a 4 to 5 foot iguana sitting in the bed of a truck and wearing a leash.
After we actually made it into the joint, we fought among the masses to get the items that we needed. As we waited in a checkout procession that was similar to the old bread lines in Russia, we witnessed an argument between a cashier and a shopper as to whether or not food stamps covered beer and NASCAR paraphernalia. Yes, it was at that point where I burst into tears and Scott consoled me in front of the racks carrying The National Enquirer and Soap Opera Digest. He kept murmuring, “It’s only three years.”
Over our three years in Smithfield, we and our friends managed to make the Wal-Mart trips a bit of a game. Between us, we had partied from Chapel Hill to Greenville and everywhere in between, but nothing proved to be as fantastic as our midnight trips to the Smithfield Wal-Mart. Several times, we nearly ended up on the floor from oxygen deprivation as the result of laughing so hard.
I think that Scott and our friends would agree about the prize winning midnight Wal-Mart experience:
It happened in the dairy section...
There was a lady shopping with her two children who appeared to be around 10 or 12 in age. Of course, you can already make the argument that a woman dragging her children through a store at midnight probably isn’t a strong candidate for Mother of the Year.
Nonetheless, one of the children was taunting her brother by speaking Spanish which he evidently did not understand. His irritation grew as she only talked more and he understood less and less. It was at that point when the young man appealed to the Maternal Justice System for a dispensation. The Judge was on a short fuse.
Right slap in the middle of the Wal-Mart, Mommy Dearest hollered like a fish wife: “SHUT UP!” pointing at one of the children’s feet, “TIE YOUR SHOE!” directly addressing the little Spanish speaker, “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE SAYING! WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?”
And they continued down the aisle in the Norman Rockwell-esque depiction of the wholesome family.
Scott and I haven’t been back to the Smithfield Wal-Mart since we’ve moved. We’ve been assured by our friends that it has gotten even more...festive. I think I’m going to live with the memories that I already have--my therapy bills are already expensive enough.