By Chaya Nessa Krycer
In last week’s article, we stealthily trekked through the Walmart parking lot, artfully dodging the approaching vehicles and pedestrians. Though danger lurked behind every loose exhaust pipe, and in a six-foot radius of the foolhardy non-maskers, somehow we successfully entered the premises. (You may have to bentch Gomel for this. Ask your local Orthodox rabbi for clarification).
As you enter, you must select a shopping cart. Now, although they may seem innocent and unpretentious, the shopping cart you choose will affect your entire shopping experience. Think about it. Unfortunately, those of us far-removed from the genie-toting set can have absolutely no idea the capabilities and hindrances affiliated with each cart. It is generally not so simple to detect a squeaky and cantankerous one. (However, there was once a scenario where I was able to tell with just a fleeting glance that the cart was No Good. In that case, the entire back of the shopping cart was missing. Even then it took me a minute to notice).
Once you have selected your shopping cart, you are ready to commence the adventure, whether sink or swim. (Walmart does have a pretty good pool supplies section, it just so happens). Now, Walmart very artfully sets its store up so that the ice cream aisle comes first. You need to first navigate through the tempting displays of Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen-Dazs before even attempting to purchase something mundane, such as flour or eggs. This is the true test of self-control and mesiras nefesh. Will you be strong? Probably not. Luckily, you most likely will need to revisit Walmart again in the next few days or hours, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to conquer your evil inclination’s sweet tooth. (If Michael Bloomberg ever becomes mayor of Dallas, this would be a good thing to suggest to him. After all, the calories, and rising obesity levels! Enough said!)
Now that six flavors of Breyers ice cream have been added to your cart (which incidentally is having severe inability in making sharp left turns, however the back is securely intact), you are ready to maneuver to the beauty care section, where you will endeavor to purchase shampoo. How did you not realize that this was stocking day for the Shampoo section? How silly of you.
There is one small area that is not blocked by boxes and boxes of freshly minted Conditioner and Bodywash. And guess what? It’s the section with the exact brand you buy. Hashem loves you!
But, what’s this? Some thoughtless individual (with a cart that is more skilled at making left turns), has taken your place by the aisle. Does she quickly grab what she needs, beating a hasty retreat? No. After all, it does take a considerable amount of time to introspect whether she has luxurious or damaged hair. (If she would have asked me, I could have told her). After counting to ten numerous times (there is a reason after all for attending first grade), and calculating the number of ceiling tiles per square foot, the woman has relinquished her position, taking with her, the last bottle of your favorite shampoo brand. But you will not cry. You are strong. It is for this reason you placed six containers of ice cream in your cart. Slowly and deliberately you take a deep breath and turn toward the baking aisle. Washing your hair was overrated anyway.
Finally, all the items on your list have been collected (and a few extras, of course, and you are ready to check out. This is the crucial moment, which will determine which century it will be when you exit the store. You furtively scan the aisles. Would it be wiser to step into line number three, behind the four customers with moderately filled carts? Aha! You have come across line number five which contains only two shoppers. But do not be too hasty- it is the mistake of an amateur to be deceived by the lack of customers in the line. With a secondary sidelong glance, it is clear that each shopping cart contains enough for three families. Oh, and it looks like it’s two overflowing shopping carts per person. This is what happens when toothpaste and bicycle tires go on sale.
But at last, after much pacing and searching and suspicious glances from the security guards, you select a line- one guaranteed to only consume half an hour of your time. That’s why Walmart displays Must gum and chocolates as refreshments; it is for the customers who feel faint. Deciding to pay for some of your items on a separate credit card, you callously reach over and use the only divider to separate your belongings. You monster. Now the person behind you has to wait until the transaction is complete, before putting his items on the conveyer belt. (This is the reason many wear baseball caps while shopping, in order to diminish the spread of antisemitism.)
But this is all behind you. You jovially proceed to the exit, mentally thumbing through your purchases. Ice cream, disposables, suntan lotion (it’s cheaper in the winter). Then you realize. You forgot the flour and eggs…