The old man in line at Wal Mart today…

…it was me.  I was the old fart, and I realized that I’m comfortable with that and even beginning to embrace it (Fox News marathons can’t be too far in the future for me).  First, a disclaimer: I hate going to Wal Mart but I lack the power of my hate-filled convictions, so sometimes I get lazy and go to that dreadful store.  Today was one of those times.

I was in the checkout line with my girlfriend and her sister, and there was one customer in front of us.  That was a miracle of good timing for us, only having to wait behind one person at Wal Mart.  Of course the checker was an old (older than me) lady with weird hair and I immediately felt some sympathy for her; nobody works a checkout at Wal Mart because they enjoy it or want to; it’s the equivalent of a job that forces you to clean shitters every day.

My sympathy soon eroded when I saw how slow she was working, and then my curmudgeon kicked into full gear.  I even had the pleasure of relating my personal experience working a checkout to her miserable performance.  I worked at K-Mart in comparatively prehistoric (in terms of checkout technology) times; we didn’t have your fancy barcode scanners or wands attached to the registers, or even pretty card-reading machines to take your money.  We (old people tend to speak in collective when talking about the past, because everybody back then went through what they did) had a keyboard attached to the register and we had to read every price tag and input the price.  We K-Martians also had to tear off tags on clothing items and place them in the appropriate slots for their type: men’s wear, women’s wear, children’s wear, and a few others I forget.

Even with all of that going on – as well as bagging in uncooperative paper bags, not plastic bags on a useful lazy Susan spinner – I still check out customers at least three times faster than this lady was doing.  Yes, I was a teenager but I was still fucking awesome at it, even though I was only a backup checker, called up front from my stocking job when the lines got too long.  That of course meant that the people who rushed into my line as soon as I opened were usually somewhat surly – “why didn’t you open sooner, I’ve been waiting forever!”  I still got them out of the store post-haste, so I could get back to the floor and finding ways to slack.  Sometimes, being lazy takes extra effort.

This all flashed back to me as I was waiting in line and I realized my advanced age.  Like with all old people, I remembered how different and superior things were when I was a kid.  Checkers talked to the people in their lines to be friendly and calm them down, and to be polite.  Checkers worked faster and smiled more.  Every damn thing was more idyllic when I worked at K-Mart and before I became an adult, dammit.

So, we finished checking out and I continued my mental screed against people today.  I was in full mental bluster (If I ever rename this blog “Full Mental Bluster” will be considered.) and thinking, only half-serious, about how old I was getting and how it was kinda fun.  And then…I couldn’t find my car in the parking lot.  My girlfriend had to point out it was in the next row over from where I thought it was.

Fucking old people in the parking lot, looking for their cars and not finding them. Wal Mart is a magnet for them.


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