Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Groceries of Impending Doom

WeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeee was a sound I was not accustomed to hearing at Wal-Mart. I tried denial. I continued pushing my cart through the soup aisle, answering Smoochie’s barrage of questions, telling myself in my head that I was just hearing one of the lift thingies the employees are always joy riding around on. WeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeee came again. Yes, it’s a lift thing. It’s not a tornado siren. Take a deep breath. It’s a lift thing it’s a lift thing it’s a lift thing. Grab your soup, answer your son, he’s talking to you.

To reinforce the fact that denial was completely not working on my inner psyche, the announcement came reverberating over the blaring horns making themselves apparent. “Can we have your attention please. There has been a code black issued, and at this time we need all cashiers and shoppers to proceed to the center of the store. I repeat, code black, please go immediately to the center of the store.”

At that point I’m pretty sure I had to squash the urge to run and flail yelling “We’re going to die!!! It’s useless to fight it! The ceiling is going to blow off the building and we’re going to get pummeled to death by florescent light bulb glass bits!! Prepare for your death people!” I squashed it, but just barely, by reminding myself I had a 6 year old and a 5 month old and I had to keep it together just long enough to throw myself on top of the two of them if the need should arise.

I reassured Smooch that it was just a bad storm (I could see the panic rising in his eyes) and put on a calm exterior for his sake. We found our way to the center of the store and I attempted to squeeze us next to a wall of men’s jeans, because, well, if we have to get pelted by blowing debris, men’s jeans are preferable to 50 pound sacks of dog kibble. In my book, anyway. It’s kind of funny, really, the things that go through your head when you’re facing certain death.

I have to step forward here and tell you that one of my greatest fears is tornadoes. It can thunderstorm until the cows come home, or in my area of the country till the corn drowns, and I’m fine. But the second the word tornado comes into the warning system, my lungs start seizing and pushing my heart up out of my chest into my eyeballs. If I have a nightmare, 9 times out of 10 it involves a tornado chasing me. We HAD to have a basement for the tornado refuge- I never wanted to be stuck in a ranch home with no basement again. I could go on and on here, but I’ll just sum it all up in one sentence. I would rather face down a giant uber hungry python than live through a tornado.

My thoughts included the irony that I was actually going to die at Wal-Mart. I hate Wal-Mart, but not for any political reasons. They’re always out of something I need (like iceberg lettuce for Pete’s sake), and they have their aisles so crowded, two carts can’t fit down them at the same time. Whenever possible I shop elsewhere, but they do have the cheapest diapers in town and we’re now a one income family, so I bit the bullet and headed to the big W. And now I was going to die there. Doom and Damnation, Death Death Death.

I can’t believe I was able to think all of these things while reassuring Smooch. I hid the fact that I was shaking with a pasty white knuckled death grip on the shopping cart, and the other set of knuckles made busywork of rubbing Smoochie’s back. Then, much to my relief, the all clear came over the speakers and instantaneously we were meandering our way back to the veggies for our final few purchases.

We ran into Smoochie’s old daycare teacher and her oldest daughter (who is such a cutie I’m hoping Smooch eventually takes her to prom or homecoming or something but that’s another story for another time) and I remember trying to sound more chipper than I was and saying something about being able to think of better times to shop. I think I got 2 or 3 more items in my cart before the whole ordeal began again. Sirens, the code black announcement, the whole shebang.

This time I was an old hat at the process. We wound our way back to the men’s jeans, this time for the comfort of familiarity and because If I was going to die, at least I’d be next to something manly. If I couldn’t be next to MY man, just the thought of a man would do in a pinch. This time the store was mostly empty because there was a mass exit after the first all clear. A nice lady stood next to us talking, and explained she picked us because she saw I had two kids and she could offer help if the need arose. After the second all-clear when we finally paid and made a run for the safety of command central (my minivan), I had a few other offers for help as well.

Once I got home, the kids safely inside the house, and dodged the lightning bolts to get the groceries inside, I was able to relax. And I realized that there are truly nice people in this world. People nice enough to offer assistance in the face of “certain death”.


Mom said...

Glad you came out with a positive out look! But most of all glad your all ok! P.S. I think I would of chosen the bedding section!
Love Mom

Traci said...

I HATE tornadoes also....we live in the Tornado Alley.....ick. We had one two weeks after moving into our new house....tore the siding off the house.....

I'm glad you are safe.

Johnny said...

Since your gonna be at the store, I need some deodorant, conditioner, seedless strawberry jelly, and some cottage cheese thingies for my breakfasts.

And oh yeah, I'm gonna remember that any port in a storm type comment comment!

Chas said...

Hey, Bonehead, mister "port in the storm". I have a direct quote from your blog for you...

"I took college algebra 4 or 5 times, I think. I don’t count the last one though, the teacher was really hot*, and she was from Cypress, and had this wicked hot accent. I can not be held responsible for not learning a damn thing under those conditions."

to be fair, I will include the asterisk definition:

"*But no where near as hot as Chas. If Chas could pick up a Cypress accent, I'd be totally set!"

So to wrap things up, um, yeah, port in the storm comment. You know I love ya, and I am a total fool for your wicked Bonehead ways/jeans.

Jafael said...

What an exciting adventure, if terrifying in the moment. I had no idea your code black twitter was a TORNADO!! Holy Cripes! I think it's so great that you had offers for help from people. Restores my faith in humanity.

for a different kind of girl said...

Tornadoes are one of my worst fears! Especially if I'm home alone or with just the boys. Before I was married, I lived in an apartment in an old building and there was nowhere to hide, which resulted in me standing in my stairwell in my apartment, wearing my bike helmet. You know. For the potential flying debris. Yeah.

It's good to know, though, that there are so many people willing to help you if the need had arose. Pity most often when you go to Walmart it's never the actual employees!

(oh, the irony in that last sentence based on what I wrote today, but working retail has made me VERY aware of the differing levels of customer service there are out there!)