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Damn Walmart
2007-12-19 - 7:15 p.m.

So Will is sick today. Nothing major--just a cold, but his nose is running nonstop and his voice sounds a bit like Kathleen Turner's, so I gave him the choice between going to school or staying home and watching movies and then Christmas shopping with me. He chose the non-school option. Not really a surprise.

He did really well on our trip out of the house right up until we got to the end of our Walmart journey, our last stop before home. At the checkout, he turned into deaf, difficult boy. Across the aisle from the registers was a display with gigantic magnifying glasses. He sprinted over, grabbed one, and ran back, holding his booty in front of him. "Mummy! Look what I found over there!"

"That's great, buddy, but we aren't buying it today. I need you to put it back."

Crickets.

"Come on, Will. Put it back please."

"No. I won't."

"Put it back, Will. One...Two..."

The cashier butts in. "If you aren't a good boy, Santa won't bring you any presents."

I shot daggers at her from my viewpoint on the other side of the credit card reader. Yes, my son was ignoring me. But that in no way gave her the right to stick her greasy-haired self into our conversation.

I finished paying for our purchases, thinking to myself about how to handle this. I decided the best approach was the minimalistic one. The magnifying glass display was between us and the door; I'd simply return Will's booty on our way out the door. As I started to push the carriage away from the line, the cashier leaned out as if to physically stop me from moving. "Hey--he HAS to put that back, you know!" she shouted at me.

I paused for just a second, thinking about all the things I wanted to say, finally settling on "I *know* he has to put it back, but I can't reach the display from here, now can I? We're going to do that right now."

What I wanted to say was, "Shut the fuck up, you stupid woman. I have no interest in stealing your four dollar piece of plastic crap!" But I refrained.

We stared at each other for a long moment. Then, finally, she turned and went back to her register. Only once she had scanned the next customer's first item did Will and I move on to replace the magnifier on its hook.

When did it become okay to parent other people's children?

And perhaps it's my own fault for shopping at Walmart, anyway, but I do not expect to be treated like a shoplifter while I'm trying to check out. Merry freaking Christmas to you, too, lady.

In other weird news of the day, Will and I spent part of our excursion today at one of the doctor's offices where my mom works, the one I don't also work at, specifically. We were delivering Christmas gifts to the woman who works at the desk and the doctor, and my mom suggested we come during lunch time, since there was a drug rep bringing Bertucci's.

The rep was a young guy, in his mid-20's, very personable and quite talkative. In telling us about his Christmas plans, he related a story about how this extremely odd thing had happened in his life. He had recently discovered that he had an older half-brother on his father's side, the product of a first marriage before his parents met.

I had to laugh as I stood and listened to him talk about this weird, weird thing in his life. I finally told him it wasn't as uncommon as he might think; that I, in fact, had a half brother I knew nothing about until I was in my 20's. He stood there, mouth agape at the thought that this could have happened to two people in the same room.

Me, I'm not surprised by anything any more.

Except rude clerks at Walmart, that is.

Merry Christmas, all, and to all a good night...

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