Disgusting. Dirty. Unsanitary.
And that's just the customers.
Come with me, dear readers, on a trip to the Germantown, Maryland Walmart - a larger, more wretched hive of scum and villany than Mos Eisley ever was.
Friday night, I had need of several items that normally would require multiple stops to procure: Jobe's houseplant spikes, lightbulbs (including the elusive 200-watter), Kleenex, underwear (screw you, Rockville Target, for no longer stocking my size!), and a handful of fiddly bits.
I got to Walmart at 8:45. I would leave 35 minutes later, nearly running for the door and the bottle of Purell I keep in my car. Truth is, I should have left as soon as I walked in the door and made a stop in the ladies room.
Here, folks, is a glimpse of the Germantown, Maryland Wal-Mart ladies room at 8:45 on Friday evening:
Included in this mess is the bag with the dirty diaper that a kindly suburban grandma threw on the floor as she walked in. When I said, "What the...???" She looked at me and said, "Well, what else can I do?" I heard her clucking and objecting from her stall as my cell camera clicked away. Too bad, granny.
Still, I had driven up there. I was in the store. I could pick up my stuff, get the hell out, and not come back. Not for a long, long time.
Let me introduce you to the Germantown Walmart shoppers. The playing field here is very level - the customers here are of every color, creed, nation, and ethnicity possible. White, black, purple, green - doesn't matter. Let me tell you - none of these folks were making themselves look good. None of them.
Like the mom opening up shampoo and condition bottles left and right, squeezing out large "samples" for her kids to play with on their arms and legs. She then pulled a box of baby wipes from the next aisle to open for them to use for clean-up.
Lesson 1: Don't buy toiletries at Walmart.
Then there was the clearly crack-addled woman who wandered the food aisles, opening packages of cookies, sampling them, closing them and then screaming "Muthafucka! Shit! Stupid fuckas! They don't have my cookies. Hey, hey, you! (said to passing, scared customer) WHERE ARE MY MUTHAFUCKING COOKIES?"
Lesson 2: Don't buy dry food at Walmart.
Even better, just around the corner there was the woman who picked up a package of hot dogs off the dirty floor, where they had been pushed around by several carts, opened the refrigerator with the non-floor hot dogs, and tossed them in with the rest of the weiners for sale.
Lesson 2.5: Don't buy ANY food at Walmart.
Or how about the dad carting a toddler dressed only in a t-shirt, sandals and a diarrhea-overflowing diaper. While daddio railed at someone on his cellphone, he plopped down the stinky leaky diaper kid on top of a pallet of bottled water. DIRECTLY onto the bottle tops, his feet bouncing and rubbing all over the next pallet of bottle tops. That was the point when I finally yelled.
"Hey. Hey! HEY, DAD!" Dad spun around, phone still to his head. "Get your kid's filthy bottom off the water bottles. And get his feet off the bottles, too! What is wrong with you?"
Dad screamed at me, "You are a horrible woman!"
I just replied, "Well, at least I'm not a horrible father."
Lesson 3: Never buy anything to drink at Walmart. You have no idea where those bottles have been.
Then there was the couple dry-humping on a big pile of paper towels. She leaned over the innocent towels, propped up on one elbow, chattering away on a glitter-spattered cell phone while her boyfriend pounded away at her phrase-covered backside, chuckling loudly as bored, tired immigrant couples passed by, their carted children observing the mock sex with great interest. As the stacked piles of paper products shuddered with every thrust, I started to wish both of these guys would smother in a tragic two-ply accident. (Of course, their families would then sue Walmart - successfully, likely - over the fact that the paper towel display didn't carry a warning about the dangers of sexual activity in a retail environment.)
Lesson 4: Never buy paper goods at Walmart.
Lesson 4.5: Never bring impressionable children to Walmart.
By 9:15, I'd had enough. I felt dirty, I was angry at the asinine and grotesque behavior throughout the store, and I was tired of dodging products dumped on the floor/opened and abandoned. I had given up on buying underwear because, after what I'd seen in other departments, that was one item with which I wasn't going to roll the dice. The last thing I needed to find out was that my undies had been pre-worn by some inquisitive shopper.
When I hit the check-out, I didn't even want to interact with a clerk. I know I muttered "Get me the hell out of here" under my breath. More than once. I went to an automated line to avoid any need to exchange false pleasantries. That was the highlight of the evening, actually.
The final ridiculousness of the night was in walking out the door, where you have to present your receipt. The door guy pretends to study the receipt, doesn't cast a single glance into the cart to verify anything, and then issues a red ink slash on your paperwork. Yes, indeedy, this cart has passed Walmart muster!
If I can avoid it, I won't be back for a very, very long time. I can always buy my undies online. Strosnider's hardware is on the way home from work, if I manage to keep my houseplants alive long enough to need more buck-ninety-nine plant spikes, and Target has just about everything else. Except for my damn underwear. But, they even have diet cherry crack on tap up on the second floor now, so that mitigates the underwear issue.
As for me...
Lesson 5: Walmart is a much bigger Hellmouth than the White Flint 7-11 ever could be.
I learned enough for one Friday night.
Every bad thing about America that you think, my fellow Americans - every bad thing your foreign friends and family think about this nation? It was all there at Walmart. And it's depressing as hell if this represents average America. Really, really depressing. If people are this freaking oblivious and grotesque and classless and ignorant... well, is it any wonder Bush got re-elected?
After writing about this, I think I need another shower...