What I love more than anything else about working at the House of Wal is the fascinating peek I get behind the socio-economic curtain of the lives of the people who shop there. And who really seem to live there.
Case in point. This female (not yet a woman) comes up to Customer Service on Saturday morning. Thankfully it was fairly quiet at the time. She’s wearing a pair of pajama bottoms with flaming eight-balls blazoned all over them and a pair of pink fuzzy slippers. Her shirt reads “So Much Work To Do – So Few People To Do It For Me.” She is in such desperate need of a bra that I seriously consider going to buy her one out of my pocket. I just can’t handle the distraction of those gigantic deflated soccer balls banging around in my face.
She’s toting a tiny baby in filthy romper. No shoes and the diaper looks to be full. Very full. sniff, sniff Yep. Very, very full.
She needs the phone book.
Apparently, she was having the battery replaced on her car and “accidentally” left her purse, wallet and credit cards at home when she decided to run out to Wal-Mart for a new battery. Uh-huh. Because I always go to Wal-Mart with a eight-month-old baby, no diapers and no purse.
So now she’s got to call someone (never did hear who) at their work to bring her some money so she can get the car out of hock so SHE can go to work. Because she’s already late for work. Because the car wouldn’t start. And she’s got to go home and take a shower. And drop the baby off at somebody’s.
She hollers on the phone for a while. I hear the phrase “Well, can’t you just ride the bike over here?” Kali on a crutch – don’t they have any working cars?
She seems satisfied, because she bangs the phone down and settles down on the bench to wait. Of course, she turns out to be a talker and the baby turns out to be a howler, so she winds up wandering around Customer Service trying to keep the child quiet.
During the twenty minute wait, while I’m trying to clean out buggies of returns left me by the overnight staff – and listening to her howler screech with glee at Halloween costumes – she drops all these nuggets.
1. “Yeah. My baby dirty. She had a banana for dinner last night. It was kind of black, but she ate it anyway.” Good parenting never goes out of style.
2. “It was never the same after I let my man sleep with that other girl.” She repeated this one several times. It was clearly an issue, even if she protested that it wasn't. It kept finding its way back into the not-conversation we were NOT having.
3. “We had other women in our life, but not like that.” HOW WERE THEY IN YOUR LIFE BEFORE? As occasional furniture? Brunette coffee tables perhaps? Personally, I thought blonde was the IT color for lamps at PEOPLEKEA!
4. “I’m friends with both of them now.” Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.
5. “That other woman, she 18 now. I can’t get mad at my man for running off with her. He’s good to my baby now. We all live together.” What the hell? Is this a commune or just some seriously screwed up mess?
6. “We had this doll, about a foot tall. My baby likes to hump it. She love to hump that doll.” This baby gonna be trouble.
7. “We had to burn the doll. My man thought it was like Chucky or something. It would move around the house. When we burned it, it smelled like meat. And it didn’t look like plastic.” There was more - details about the "Chucky" doll and its adventures. I kept looking for Jennifer Tilly to show up or something.
8. “That doll, we got it from a homeless shelter. Some dude give it to us. Here, you want a doll?” Because accepting items from men at homeless shelters is ALWAYS a good plan.
9. “I’m late for work. But I’m not going to call them. I’m going to show them the receipt and tell them I was having car trouble.” Receipts from Wal-Mart. Your Get Out of Jail Free card for life!
10. “My baby love French fries, hash browns, tater tots, mashed potatoes. She don’t like baked potato. She like peas. Sweet peas. And beans. Whooo. She fart a lot too.”
11. “I give her milk, chocolate milk, juice and tea. She don’t get no soda.”
12. “I like Oprah.” Oprah. Her power extends even to the white trash masses.
13. “I got put in jail once. The police put me in because I threatened to kill myself when I was pregnant. You tell me. My man leaving me for some seventeen year old hooker and I’m all pregnant and stuff. You gonna be upset too.”
14. “My man leaves and I call the police. You better get over here or I’m gonna start cutting. So they locked me up for a week. I take pills now.” Can I have some? Please Shiva can I have some?
It was like staring into a gaping maw of meaningless mundanity. She wasn't really mean or evil or even particularly scammy - except for the fact that she somehow managed to forget her purse and the baby's diaper bag on a trip to Wal-Mart. (Found out later she offered to leave her house key as "collateral" if they'd let her drive home for the money. Uh huh.)
I don't really know how to describe her - other than .... sad. About twenty years old, uneducated, saddled with a child she clearly loves but is in no way prepared to deal with and going nowhere with her life.
Eventually, someone showed up with money. They went back to TLE. I never heard a call for management, so they must have paid and left. Vaya con dios flaming eight-ball pants lady. I hope your baby doesn't grow up to be a Vegas hooker.