Everyone knows patience is not my virtue. If you are one of those patient and kind at all times types, I am jealous of you. Since I know this is my shortcoming, and I also realize I live in a world where things don't necessarily fall into place around me, I've learned a few tricks for dealing with recurring irritations. Of particular note is shopping – especially during the Christmas season, when it seems like everyone (especially female) has brought out their Christmas Claws.
How to have a Merry Christmas (Even If You Must Shop Walmart)
In the Parking Lot: Most of you aren't bludgeons for punishment like I am. I actually go to Walmart. I've been on Payday (you military families know what that means). I've been on Sundays after church. I went five centimeters dialated the evening before being induced with Ashlyn. I've been on Black Friday. And I continue to venture out during the Christmas Season. So I know all about The Parking Lot. I've done the spy-a-spot-on-the-other-side-of-the-aisle-and-careen-around-the-corner-only-to-be-scooped-by-a-little-coupe dance. I've done the wait-for-a-truck-to-back-out-with-blinker-on-only-to-by-scooped-again-by-a-brat-with-a-license jig. And what I've finally realized is that there is usually a spot about five or six spaces down. That's what? Thirty feet? Is it that much harder to walk a whole thirty extra feet when I'm about to cruise from one corner of Walmart to the other? Bottom line: skip the dances and save yourself some frustration. Park in the first totally available nobody's-going-to-take-it spot.
In the Aisle: also known as Bumper Cars. I can't tell you how irritated I get when folks don't show proper cart etiquette. In the Army we had these helpful little arrows on the floor directing traffic. Sounds regimented but the protocol really helped avoid aisle congestion. Especially on Payday. Anyway, you get my point. Whether you're hopping over toys and decorations strewn about the floor, or stuck wedged between a wall of greenery and a shopping cart, or even if it's just you and some lady staring at the same widget on the shelf, the aisle can actually be a really friendly place - if you make it that way. Be a little apologetic if you're the Problem Child in the aisle. And if you're stuck behind someone who won't let you get by, assume they just don't know you're there and try a polite – cheery, even – "excuse me, please." And if you're the chatty type, feel free to make an observation – "boy, they must not have planned these aisles for an actual cart," or "that's a lovely wreath in your basket" as you're awkwardly scraping your cart against hers to get by. You'd be surprised how many small, friendly and even helpful conversations this opens up. One lady taught me how to turn my outdoor light fixture into an outlet. Later she told me how to dry oranges (I was there a while). I was able to help another lady figure out how to hang the garland sashes under her window (she said, "what a blessing I ran into you" before she left – now how nice is that??).
In line: Oh, I know this one, too. You're in the elite Twenty Items or Less aisle and the person in front of you is counting forty-two cans of cat food as one item. Or you're behind someone who picked up the one item on the shelf that isn't marked and the person they're calling (over and over) for Price Check is on smoke break. Or this Problem Child in front of you is arguing the merits of her coupon. Or she can't find three pennies. Whatever it is, here's what you do: remember you've been the Problem Child, too. And you probably will be again. So show a little grace and use the six minutes in captivity to make a phone call or read that tabloid article you're pretending not to care about.
At the Checkout: So now you've finally arrived at checkout. Remember this lady or gentleman (or brat-with-a-license) has been dealing with Christmas Claws and Price Checks all day. Try empathy. A simple "so how tiring has this shift been?" can go a long way to cracking a smile. If you're not the chatty type, at least offer a sincere "Merry Christmas" before you go. Every time. You'd be surprised how much it helps your mood to say it out loud a few times.
And a final note: mind your witness. In Upstate New York I worked for a television station, and I learned early on to mind my witness. I don't recall the specifics, but at some point one morning on my way to work I got irritated with a car in front of me. I began honking and ranting before I realized it was a young woman. Probably a parent. Maybe one of the parents who attended my workshops. Or saw me talking about children's programming on television. It occurred to me that I was not entirely anonymous in that town and going forward I was mindful that I was always representing our station. You get the point: whether you're representing your faith or trying to be a good example for your kids, remember your actions speak louder than words. And please know I'm assuming all you sweet readers are great at this, but writing it is a good reminder to myself.
So there it is – a few thoughts to ponder. Maybe you have a thought to share…let's hear it!
Lisa Martin says
I’m sure I’ve been guilty of these offenses. My thing is: don’t just stand there staring at an item unless you’re out of the way. And if you’re going to chat w/a long last friend, go do it in the food area and have a coffee!! BUT, having whined about that, another thing I do is tell the cashier that I”m sorry they have to work in that madness, but I’m glad they’re there. They always look surprised and say “I don’t mind it!” which is pretty awesome.
It was brought home to me how easy it is to be polite when my girls were little. I was someplace and asked for something and one of the girls said “what do you say?” I have never forgotten Please and Thank You since then. Whether I’m ordering a pound of hamb at the meet counter, going through a drive through, or asking hubby to get me something. It works wonders.
thanks for the reminders. g
I am *so* glad I only have a few things left to get–online. I got the last of the must-be-done-in-person shopping done yesterday, at the expense of an on-time nap. Sigh. At least it’s done.
Thank you for the Lowe’s wreath tip, by the way. I ended up getting one for the house, too–I usually skip it as too expensive =). It smells *great*, which makes me even happier that I sent one to Dan.
Susan Kern says
I love this! Another parking lot tip – I try to park as close to a cart return as I can. It doesn’t make any sense to the the spot closest to the doors when the closest cart return is 8 spots away! And I love the “Merry Christmas” idea. Helps remind everyone why we celebrate CHRISTmas in the first place.
Great post! Thanks!
p.s. During this hectic season, I just try to remember these classic words:
“Treat others as you want to be treated”
You hit most of the main points! I usually try to be good and patient but some days it’s really really difficult!!
I always try to be polite to the other shoppers and especially the workers. However, about a month ago, I was trying to squeeze down a tight Walmart aisle and two women were staring into a freezer case. One was holding a box of boots or something. Directly across from her was another woman with a cart. I said, “excuse me,” a few times and no one budged, so I forged ahead anyway. I accidentally bumped the box of boots and the lady was ready to take off my head. Seriously. I apologized and kept walking. I stopped at the end of the aisle and I overheard them talking that they were going to confront me and say some awful things (not to mention my eldest son was with me). It was terrible. People are nuts.
The Watermelon Tree says
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What a great post – not only funny but so true. Thanks for the reminder – you never know what someone else is going thru. Why not try to help them smile instead of grimace.
Memories of the WalMart on Route 3 (pre-Target days) on the full moon Fridays that hosted BOTH military payday and social security checks.
You know what? I sort of miss H2Otown…is that crazy?
i know the entire thing about the shopping carts is directed at me. you just can’t give it up can you. Just kidding, i have become nicer when shopping since then.
I don’t want to be a hater, as I do celebrate christmas, but it’s better to say happy holidays then to assume a person is celebrating christmas, or only christmas. Sorry, hope that doesn’t piss you off! Otherwise I totally agree with everything you said. Now if you know the person and know they do the christmas things, then by all means say it!
You invited our thoughts, so here’s mine. This year with a surgery looming, I actually PLANNED my shopping.. and know what? it wasn’t as difficult as I always claimed it would be. I started buying one gift at a time during my usual walmart trips in August and September. And then I discovered both online shopping and QVC/HSN — but only on items with free shipping and/or 50% off or more. Bottom line? I was basically done mid-November, with only one last item bought (on impulse — hey, I can only be so good *s*) last week while getting walmart groceries in off-peak hours (another hint for year-round).
Hilarious!! But true.
I might have to check out Lowe’s. Thanks for the tip.
I worked @ Walmart during HS, and Christmas was awful… My only hope for a break was for a Nebraska football game to be on – then the store was a little less hectic (at least the die-hard football fans stayed away for a few hours!). But what you describe above is exactly why I can’t go to Walmart in LA – I drive myself crazy!