There comes a time in every person’s life when she must buy shampoo. And soap and toothpaste and stuff. In order to afford exorbitant prices on these necessary items, eventually each one of us must face the terror that is the discount mass-marketing store.
In my tiny town, there are basically 3 options. In order to protect the professional integrity of these magnificent shopping locales, I will use the following creative pseudonyms... Krap-mart, Hell-mart, and Bulls-eye.
To me, Krap-mart is usually a last resort. In my experience, the prices are higher, the quality is lower, and the store smells funky. So avoidance is my action of choice.
That leaves Hell-mart and Bulls-eye. Hell-mart has better prices, but... it’s called Hell-mart for a reason. So in order to facilitate a better shopping experience, I have compiled this list of suggestions.
1. Parking: Keep in mind that upon entering the Hell-mart parking lot (purgatory), all the laws of the universe, including gravity and Einstein’s equation, lose all meaning. In particular, traffic laws and logic lose all effect. Those arrows on the ground showing which direction to drive? Feel free to disregard them, since no one else in purgatory is paying any attention. In fact, since the laws of nature are reversed in purgatory, many inhabitants actually believe those arrows mean to drive in the opposite direction, or perhaps directly up into the air. Also, be sure to wear comfortable shoes, because the probability of finding a close parking space is approximately the same as the probability of Charro saying something comprehensible...well, ever. Plan on parking far away, maybe at Bulls-eye. In any case, you may want to consider bringing a goat cart, or at the very least a canteen and a map. You may also consider painting your car and extremely bright and obnoxious color, or building a tower on the hood to aid in finding it once you are back in the parking lot.
2. In the store: Here, advance preparation is key. You MUST have a list. Again, DO NOT enter Hell-mart without a list. Why? Two words: Hell-mart amnesia. Upon entering any Hell-mart, all humans lose all memory of their former life, including what brand of conditioner they use and whether they need toilet paper. Those memories are immediately replaced by an intense desire to buy very large plastic cups, flowered Corningware, and 5 pound bags of white cheddar popcorn. Your only defense against this dangerous phenomenon is a good list. You also may want to consider a tin-foil hat.
The particularly responsible among us can bring a map of the store as well, to maximize shopping efficiency. This will come in very handy when you need to tear something in frustration once you realize that the store is completely rearranged every hour and 17 minutes. The arrangement of the store is actually pretty irrelevant since most of the merchandise is in the middle of the aisles wrapped in huge impenetrable plastic sheets. Fortunately Hell-mart has a convenient pharmacy where you can find a large selection of antidepressants, Also, if you have a Super-Hell-mart you can buy large quantities of cheap beer.
3. Grocery shopping: Once you reach the grocery section of Hell-mart the aforementioned list becomes invaluable -- not to tell you what you need but in order to keep track of what you cannot find. Any food not made by Kraft, General Mills, or Hell-mart itself (Satan’s choice brand) will not be available in hell-mart. Another good rule of thumb is the eight-year-old-rule -- Any food not on the preferred menu of the average eight year old boy is not sold at Hell-mart. It’s actually in their mission statement.
4. Checking out: It is at the point of checkout that one realizes how important advance planning really is -- if you have consumed any liquids whatsoever in the past 2 hours, checking out can be particularly uncomfortable. Plan on spending some time in line, roughly until the end of your reproductive years. Try to find the best possible line, but keep in mind that whichever line you choose will immediately transform into the slowest line in the store. If you try and change lines, you guarantee that a small child will throw up in line in front of you, possibly in your cart. You deserved it. Learn some patience.
5. Back to purgatory: Once you have survived checkout, you must venture back into the parking lot to attempt to find your car. Remember that a customer with a cart is invisible to drivers. Remember that goat cart? Assuming your goat hasn’t chewed through the rope with which you tied it, now would be a good time to hitch him up, because it’s a long long way back to your car, particularly if the tower you built on the hood has collapsed. If you drive a blue Chevy Cavalier, don’t bother trying to find your car, just break into the first blue cavalier you find and take it. There’s no ski patrol in Purgatory, and stronger people than you have perished trying to find the right Cavalier.
6. In your car: You are almost finished, but constant vigilance is necessary to survive the Hell-mart experience. It is usually at this point that the “big heavy car, little squishy people” principle comes into play. This phenomenon occurs when those individuals (usually adolescent) meandering through the parking lot show complete disregard for the fact that there are moving vehicles in existence in the universe, or that those moving vehicles pose a bodily threat. Perhaps it is the lack of neon and rotating hubcaps that make your vehicle a nonentity in their estimation. Maybe your paint job which involves actual paint rather than primer and decals is the problem. Either way, be prepared to drive at approximately .00035 mph until you get out of the parking lot away from them. It’s not their fault, you would walk slowly too if your waistband was around your knees. Actually hitting one of these individuals is not a good option either, it just slows things down more, trust me.
Congratulations! You have survived your Hell-mart experience! Aren’t you glad you forgot the toilet paper...again?