I've heard it said that if Wal-Mart has what you want, you won't find a better price, anywhere!
One area in Wal-Mart that I've learned (the hard way) to steer clear of...is their automotive department. The one exception is, you can't go wrong with a simple lube job.
|REAL MEN LUBE THEIR OWN CARS. I GUESS THAT MEANS I'M NOT A MAN. INSTEAD I TRUST MY CAR TO A STAFF OF UNMOTIVATED, OVER-WORKED, UNDER PAID "PROFESSIONALS."|
Last week, the "Service Soon" icon lit-up on my dashboard. This is the friendly signal to lubricate my engine. I've had a long and successful history of Wal-Mart grease and oil jobs while shopping. When my son Andrew was young, we'd kill time (an hour or two), by going to McDonald's, or IHOP or Dunkin' Donuts.
|DUNKIN' DONUTS WAS FOUNDED IN QUINCY MASSACHUSETTS (1950). TODAY THIS GLOBAL DONUT SHOP AND COFFEEHOUSE HAS OVER 11,000 LOCATIONS...SUDDENLY I'M IN THE MOOD FOR A CHOCOLATE HONEY GLAZE...BETTER MAKE IT SIX.|
Yesterday, to beat the crowds, I got to Wal-Mart at 9:20AM. The cleverness of my plan was upended by going on a Saturday. My first hint of a catastrophe was the indifferent counterman. Usually these representatives are hospitable and give straight answers to common questions. But not this dude. Instead of a wait time estimate he scoffed, "There's five cars ahead of you and two others being worked on now." I said, "So, an hour?" He shrugged, "We only got two guys doing lubes...might be a lot longer." I did the math in my head and liberally came up with a ninety-minute ceiling. I would be acutely wrong.
I did a frosty ninety-minute power walk through the neighborhood. I returned, washed-up, had a conversation with a fellow shopper who works at the same place as me. I was back at the auto department service desk at 11:15AM. My car was not done, nor was it getting worked on. I didn't interpret the counterman being sarcastic but the "consultation" of being NEXT, (as he phrased it), didn't do me much good.
Over the next forty minutes, I did eighty-three laps around the store. I had my blood pressure tested and was so bored I did it again a half hour later, (SHOCKER, it was higher the second time).
Luckily I found an abandoned NEW YORK DAILY NEWS. I read it cover-to-cover did the sudoku puzzle, the jumble and the crytoquote.
|EVEN WITHOUT WARP FACTOR FOUR, I COULD HAVE FLOWN TO THE PLANET RIGEL-NINE AND BACK WHILE WAITING FOR MY CAR TO BE DONE.|
At noon, I couldn't believe my eyes, my car was getting driven to the work bay. I took the opportunity to do another few laps around the store. I thought I had covered every inch of the place but this time I discovered that avocados were on sale, two for a dollar-five.
|I ALWAYS THOUGHT "AVOCADO" WAS A REFRIGERATOR COLOR. I WAS WELL INTO MY TWENTIES WHEN I REALIZED IT WAS FOOD...CLASSIFIED AS; BEING IN THE FLOWERING PLANT FAMILY, NATIVE TO MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA.|
The auto center waiting room has a window that looks out into the garage. At 12:30, I couldn't help but notice that my car's hood was up...but nobody was working on it. Unfortunately there was no one to complain to. Several minutes went by so I went out and asked a guy installing tires (ten feet from my car), "Who's lubing my car?" He said, "I dunno where he is. I'm busy doin' this."
Inside, I asked a worker. He said, "I'm working on your car." I controlled myself from saying, "Duh!" He continued, "It'll take ten minutes to finish draining the old oil."
My next lap around the store, I found something else that I must have missed on all my other orbits. A smeared trail of disgusting smelling excrement. Some yuckle-puck must have stepped in dog crap, (or if they were a real loser, stepped in their own shit) and daubed a bit with every step they took through the housewares section.
This might sound crazy but this wasn't the first time I encountered a set of dung tracks. In fourth grade, a kid in my class, MARKT raised his hand, (bear in mind, he was nine-years old). His actual quote to our witch of a teacher was, "I smell doody." That statement is a golden (brown) moment in my life and has been indelibly etched in my memory for fifty years.
Our horror story of a educator lived up to her heinous reputation. First she told everyone to look at the bottom of their shoes. Well, we all know the old adage, "He who smelt it, dealt it." Poor MARKT discovered that a blob of shit was wedged into the space between the heel and sole of his Oxford.
Next that spiteful bitch could have called for a custodian who would have done a quick and thorough job complete with disinfectant. But NOOOOOO! Miss Wicked told MARKT to get paper towels. Oh the humiliation! The poor bastard with everyone staring and snickering, got on his hands and knees and wiped each fecal dab in the classroom. When he thought the degradation was done, he was ordered into the hall to continue the job down the corridor. Too bad for him, the Pooper Scooper wouldn't be invented for decades.
The rest of my ridiculous wait at Wal-Mart was made better by my memories of MARKT. At 1:00PM, I looked out the window and the mechanic waved me to him. I thought; Jeez, here we go again, as I expected some obscure glitch like...due to circumstances beyond my control, he couldn't finish the job. Luckily, that wasn't the case but the stupid, moronic idiot did call me out there to tell me, "Your car is ready, you can pay now." Which I would have done without hearing it directly from him.
Inside, there's seven customers ahead of me on line...with NO cashier. I wish I was making this stuff up but the usual 15% embellishment factor does not figure into this equation. Ten minutes went by until I finally advanced to the cash register. Naturally, the rep couldn't find my paperwork. He also couldn't access a duplicate of my work order because another associate was using the one computer to sell another customer tires. But he had deserted his post and disappeared to be certain that four tires in that size were in stock.
I was shell-shocked when I limped out to my car at 1:15. Despite being frustrated, hungry and tired, it felt good to accomplish my goal. That is until I turned on the engine and the "Service Soon" light was still on. There was no way I was going back in. I'll read the car manual and turn the friggin' thing off myself. Oopsies, we're getting STILL another winter storm tonight. I wonder if I have time to renege on my deal with the devil because the way he's messing with me, I might have to wait till May to complete my mission.