I had a ridiculous Walmart experience the other day.
Now, let me go ahead and answer all of the smarmy, self-righteous assclowns that are going to say, “Well, that’s what you get for shopping at Walmart. I don’t ever go there.”
Shut the fuck up. You can take your bag of Whole Foods organic potatoes, your Starbucks Grande cup of Foggy Colombian Sunrise, your hemp sandals, and your all-natural granola imported from Zaire; not to mention your Portland microbrew, your ironic mustache, and your iPod Shuffle full of socially responsible music – take all that, turn those sumbithces sideways, and stick them straight up your candy ass.
So the other day I had to go to Walmart. I had stopped there what was apparently more than fifteen days earlier to buy something or other and bought an Alvin and the Chipmunks DVD for my son. Not those abominable live-action movies – the old cartoons. This one had some kind of superhero-themed episodes on it, with Alvin dressed as Batman prominently on the front. Like all little kids my son likes Alvin and the Chipmunks and he loves Batman, so I thought he’d really dig this. But I got it home and Mrs. Troublemaker told me we already had those episodes on another collection. Fucking double-dippers.
So I stuck it back in my car, knowing I would have to return to Walmart at some point and would just return it then rather than making a special trip.
Then Lil’ Troublemaker got his Boba Fett in the mail.
I can’t even explain what I was thinking, but back when Hasbro was offering the last mail-away Boba Fett – one that looks like the prototype costume – I decided to pass on it, even though I knew it was different and my wife was ordering one for my son. You see, I have a whole section of the wall devoted to Boba Fett, as well as a shelf of Mandos:
There's more, but the rest isn't all together like that and I don't think anybody wants eighty pictures here. It’s not everything ever made, but it’s a decent amount of stuff and I’ve tried to pay attention to what’s coming out when and buy any Fett stuff that I like. And I really like variations of Fett’s armor. I have no idea why I passed on this thing.
So it came in the mail the other day and it looks totally rad, if a bit similar to the concept figure:
And I was really kicking myself for not getting it. Lil’ Troublemaker kind of thought it was cool, but didn’t really care. Like, to the point that he didn’t even try to open it. I decided I might be able to work out some kind of trade. I was stuck at work that night, but when I talked to the missus she said I should definitely ask him about trading because he didn’t seem to care about it at all. She said he wanted me to buy him the new Imaginext Krusty Krab/Chum Bucket playset. I told her she was out of her mind. That thing is forty bucks and this Fett is part of the new generation of mail-aways that everybody buys (except me, apparently) and thus are not worth jack squat. I told her I’d price Fett online and come up with a fair alternative.
It turns out this Fett is going for around twenty bucks plus shipping. So I called back and asked if he wanted the Batmobile from the new kid-oriented 6” Batman line (which is a pretty great line for kids, by the way). He thought about it and decided that was acceptable. I have raised a shrewd negotiator.
I knew I had that Alvin and the Chipmunks DVD in the car, so that was going to knock about twelve bucks off of the Batmobile’s $27.99 price. Nice. A simple trip to Walmart and I’d have that pristine, white Boba Fett hanging on the wall next to the rest.
I went to Walmart the next day. I was a little nervous walking in because there was not a septuagenarian with a roll of orange stickers at the door. Typically this person will examine the item you want to return and put an orange sticker on it. I was afraid there would be trouble if I showed up at the Customer Service counter with unstickered merchandise, regardless of the fact that I had a receipt and the item was still shrink-wrapped.
I approached the counter and the unpleasant-looking little black man behind it. I know that it is entirely unsurprising that a Walmart employee be would either of these things (little and behind the counter, obviously), but I was not excited. Neither was he. I took the DVD and the receipt out of the bag and handed it to the clerk, telling him I wanted to return the DVD, but I just wanted store credit because I was buying something. I tried to be as reassuring as possible and let the guy know I was an easy one. No trouble here. Just swipe some credit onto one of those little cards and send me on my way.
He stood there and looked at the receipt for a minute, then looked at that big blue sign on the wall that details all of Walmart’s return policies in the same size print they use in a Holy Bible. He looked at my receipt again, looked at that inscrutable sign again, and I knew there was going to be a problem.
“Sir,” he said, in italics so I’d know he thought I was an idiot, “You have to return these within fifteen days.”
I didn’t even try to conceal my incredulity.
“Really? What are you talking about? It’s wrapped and I’ve got a receipt.”
He told me that the big, blue sign said that I could not return video games, movies, or CDs after fifteen days. He kept looking over at the sign as though I should give a shit what the sign said. I threw away a decade and a half of my life working retail – I know how returns work. You get somebody who has wrapped product and a receipt and just wants store credit and you just process that shit. I just stood there and stared at him and he repeated the thing about the blue sign.
“That’s ridiculous,” I said as I continued to stare at him.
Before I could even suggest that he go get a manager, he said he was going to go and get a manager. Clearly he really, genuinely believed with all of his heart that he was right because you never volunteer to go and get the manager unless somebody is screaming and yelling. I almost felt for him a little bit, but he was being such a prick.
A manager just happened to be walking up, so the little clerk ran over and had a secret conversation – because clearly there was big, important shit going down – that involved lots of furtive gesturing at both me and the big, blue sign. The manager looked at the little clerk like he had just told him the world was flat and gestured angrily towards the register.
The little clerk stomped back over to the register and without a word started smacking the keys like they owed him money. I have never in my life seen somebody use a barcode scanner in an aggressive fashion, but the little clerk certainly did.
I forgot to mention that he doused his hands in Purell before he took my receipt – as though I were diseased or something – and as a result got the receipt all smeary so that it wouldn’t scan. He found this out while trying to process the return and got really fired up when had to type the barcode in manually.
Fuck you, buddy – I’ve had to type over a thousand words now because of your silly ass.
So he finished the transaction, slammed the DVD into a returns bin, ripped the cash out of the register, slammed a slip down for me to sign, slammed a pen down, yanked the slip off the counter after I signed it, slammed the register shut, and slammed my money down on the counter. Then he turned around and stomped off without another word. It was amazing.
I stuck my money in my wallet, grabbed a cart, and went and got my turkey jerky.
I got to the toy aisle and was relieved to see a few of the new Batmobiles there. I put one in the cart and started to go on my way.
This may seem like the end of the story. This is not, sadly, the end of the story.
I don’t go to a toy aisle and pick up one thing and leave. I have to peruse that whole aisle, because there have been too many times that I’ve almost missed an item that was in the wrong place or had some kind of packaging that I wasn’t familiar with or just wasn’t expecting to see. Sure enough, after I left my cart and walked down the aisle a bit I saw a few pegs chock full of Marvel Legends. Including a Steve Rogers, which Evil had just found for me a couple of days before. Also, they were all marked down to $11. Dammit. I texted Evil just to let him know how my luck was and he asked me to pick up a Hope for him. I grabbed one and turned around to get my cart, which was now empty and being pushed away by a gigantic black woman.
No fucking way.
I walked down the aisle and turned the corner to follow her.
“Excuse me, miss,” I called after her, “Did you just take my cart?”
She totally ignored me and kept walking, so I raised my voice.
“Excuse me, miss,” I yelled. I was totally yelling at this point.
“Did you really just empty all of my stuff out of that cart and take it? For real?”
I was totally pissed. The worst part was that this woman was huge and could have probably beat my ass. She looked like William “The Refrigerator” Perry in drag.
Finally she turned around and said, “Well nobody was there.”
“Are you kidding me? I was right in the aisle.”
“Well, here, you can have your buggy back,” she said as she shoved the cart at me. She said it in the same way you would respond to somebody who had just taken your beer and started drinking it.
“Oh, thank you so much,” I said as I grabbed the cart and turned back around.
I found the shelf where she had unloaded my stuff and put it back in the cart. I needed a couple more things, so I made my way around the dirty, overly bright store; very conscious of who was around me. I just had this vision in my head of a huge race war getting started in Walmart because some tattooed white dude had yelled at a poor, defenseless sister.
Thankfully, nothing happened.
I went home and made the trade, taking Mr. Fett downstairs only to discover I had no room on my Fett wall. I’m going to have to redo the whole thing. Also, I really want one of those Batmobiles.