I’ve been thinking about changing the name of this blog to The Saturday Morning Post, but that would imply a new post every Saturday morning wouldn’t it? That’s not gonna happen. Even more disturbing: if I missed a Saturday, would anyone even notice? Undeterred, I press on with the latest spur of the moment offering, this one involving America’s most ubiquitous shopping place, Wal-Mart.
My cordless drill was fading fast, at least the battery was. Charge it up and, use it or not, three days later the battery was low again. Buy a new battery, dummy. Not so fast. Seems that a new battery was only slightly less than the cost of a new drill, battery and all. Go figure.
I didn’t need an all-in-one device that drills, sands, buffs, pulls teeth, and washes your car. Nor did I want a heavy duty industrial version that can drive titanium screws into solid steel. Just a plain old handyman model would do. Amazon listed a common Black and Decker for $59 that would serve the purpose. My index figure hovered over the Buy With One Click button, but with Christmas coming, I held off.
I let my wishes and needs be known to all my friends and relatives (as well as Santa), but received not a hint, not a promise, not a solitary twinkle in the eye that a new drill would be under the tree come Christmas morning. Humbug to all of you. I hope your stockings overflow with coal.
Still pondering what to do, I accompany the Missus to Wal-Mart. I take my usual role as cart pusher and am idly standing by while the lady of the house fills the cart with cat food and kitty litter, about fifteen thousand dollars worth conservatively speaking. I abandon my post and sneak over to the tool section. Wouldn’t you know it, there was the very same drill I’d seen on the Internet and get this…four dollars cheaper. In the cart she goes.
I hang back at the checkout counter so as to ring up my item separately from the kitty crap. I don’t buy cat food. The Missus doesn’t buy drills. It’s the secret to a long and happy marriage. But, there’s a problem. The B&D has a security anti-theft button on the package which must be removed with a special tool. The cashier had no such tool at her station. Off she goes, register to register, searching under counters, asking questions, pleading,. “Anybody seen the tool to take the button off?” They had not.
She heads for the Customer Service Department while the line of customers behind me is now snaking back to the toy department, lingerie, almost to tires and automotive. She finds the tool at last (apparently the only one that Wal-Mart owns) but struggles with it. The button refuses to come off. More customer service people show up. They all take a try at the thing. No joy. Finally, finally, with angry shouts from the line, success. Thank you, Jesus.
Relieved and embarrassed for the delay, I shove my credit card in the slot and get this screen message:
Card unusable or damaged. Cannot read card.
I notice the woman behind me un-boxing her new set of kitchen carving knives.
The cashier offers to enter the data manually. She shakes her head and frowns. Not a good sign. Now, I know the card is good. The Visa people call me monthly to make sure I’m okay and in good health and their cash cow is alive and well. I whip out another card from another bank. It goes through. I offer up another prayer of thanks.
Home free? Well, not quite. Pausing at the exit, I look over the receipt and notice that the purchase price was not fifty-five dollars as seen on the display, but a whopping seventy-nine smackeroos. WTF?
Back to the tool department. Sho nuff, some dunderhead had stuck a more expensive model (the I can do everything but wipe your fanny model) directly under the poor boys display.
The gals in Customer Service saw me coming, made an effort to duck under the counter, but it was too late.
“Ladies, which one of you would be so kind as to ring up a refund on box number one and a purchase for box number two?”
They stared at box number two sporting yet another anti-theft button. They have a short conference.
“How did Mary get that off before?” one whispered.
“No idea, but I’ll try.”
They tried, and they tried, and they tried. They look around for help. An older gentleman was manning one of the nearby registers, gray hair, glasses, distinguished is the impression. He takes a look. This ain’t his first rodeo. He knows exactly where the proper tool is kept and pops the button off. Elapsed time? About two and half seconds.
I walk past the man on the way out. “Thanks for your help.”
“You’re welcome, sir. Merry Christmas.”
I swear I saw a twinkle in his eye.