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5:18 a.m. - 2001-08-27

THE STUPIDEST THING I'VE EVER DONE

If I live to be 100 years old and some local TV reporter has the crappy job of having to interview me on my 100th birthday and he gets around to asking me "In all your 100 years, what was the stupidest thing you ever did?" I can smile a big toothless grin and say "In the summer of 2001, I went to Walmart on the day before school started."

Yesterday, the Mrs., the baby and I were sitting around the house, desperately in need of some liquid Dove soap.

Susie and I both use liquid Dove soap during our showers. We have for years.

We ran out on Saturday and yesterday, we had to take showers using ... bar soap.

This kinda put us in a funk in which I didn't think we'd ever escape.

"Let's go to Walmart and get some Dove soap," Susie suggested.

"We also need some dog food," I piped up as I stared at the dog with the rancid ass.

"And I need a new Pyrex baking dish," Susie added.

Cool. We had three things on our list. That officially requires a visit to Walmart.

We get to Walmart and it is PACKED. It takes me close to five minutes to find a parking spot and that's all the way at the corner of the lot.

"Are they giving away free overalls and pork rinds?" I ask, poking fun at Walmart's primarily redneck clientele.

No.

Public schools start today.

Which means every single redneck family in this entire godforsaken city was at Walmart buying school supplies at the last possible minute.

We squeeze through the doors and Walmart is wall-to-wall rednecks.

The first thought going through my mind was "I can use bar soap and the dog could stand to lose a few pounds...let's go."

Susie nixed that idea by insisting we get our stuff and go.

I don't know how many of you have Walmarts in your area. But one of Walmart's big problems is they build their aisles big enough for stick people and small dwarf-like creatures. Hobbits, if you please.

Then, they cram these aisles full of displays o' crap. For instance...there will be a huge block of Slim Fast cases...probably 800 cases ... right there in the middle of the aisle, making it virtually impossible to get a shopping cart around it.

Now then...you combine 800 cases of Slim Fast with 21,000 redneck families, and you have yourself what I like to call a Walmart traffic jam from Hell.

In a Walmart traffic jam from Hell, you will run across two types of people. The jolly redneck who looks at a store full of toothless families and sees adventure and fun.

Then you have the Angry Redneck Mamas. These are young women who had sex in their teens which resulted in six screaming brats who she drags to Walmart on the day before school starts in order to punish those around her with her own six pointy-headed mistakes.

You can spot the Angry Redneck Mama by her tanktop with her prison tattoos all up and down her arm. Prison tattoos are tattoos void of any color...just black lines or words on their arm that they got in prison after robbing a liquor store or whatever the hell depths an Angry Redneck Mama sinks to in order to buy baby formula.

I think I've mentioned in the past...my wife is the absolute WORST shopping cart operator in the free world. She gets behind a cart and zones out, oblivious to the chaos around her.

For some odd reason...she steers her cart straight into the school supply section of the store. She later told me she thought it was the baking dish section of the store.

Yeah honey...21,000 rednecks in one aisle...and they're all baking redneck lasagna tonight.

(Redneck lasagna recipe...same as regular lasagna...just substitute ground squirrel for ground beef)

We get stuck in this vortex of rednecks and I snatch Andy out of the cart and cradle him tightly against my chest to protect him from any rednecks that may want to stick their fingers in his mouth.

"Lookit them there teeth," Rednecks like to say when they see a nine-month old baby. "He's got more teeth than me!"

Thus...the cradling against the chest thing...

We ran across one angry redneck mama who, if she had a gun on her, woulda had six dead redneck kids going to school today.

It seems that her kids didn't want Jeff Gordon binders for school...they wanted Pikachu...some Pokemon marketing tool.

"I ain't go' buy yo' ass no Peekaboo folder," the mama said, swatting the kid in the head with a folder. "You go' get Jeff Gordon...he's a real American hero."

"Mama, I don' like Jeff Gordon," the kid argued. "I like Pikachu!"

The Mama about exploded.

"Jeff Gordon is the best damned NASCAR racer in the history of the sport," she spat out, inches from the kids face. "You go' start likin' NASCAR AND Jeff Gordon soon and you go' stop playin' with that Pokeyman trash!"

The kid started to cry.

Kids...friendly tip from your Uncle Bob here...on the day before school when your Angry Redneck Mama takes you to Walmart and wants to push her interests onto you via a school folder...take the damned thing and move on. DON'T START CRYING. It will just make it worse.

The kid decides to fall to the ground and throw a redneck temper tantrum. Which is just like your normal temper tantrum except it's a damned redneck throwing it so there's more cursing involved.

Angry Redneck Mama is gonna have none of that.

Angry Redneck Mama starts yelling "Git up!! Git up, you!! I'm go' give you what for if you don't git yo' ass up off that Walmart floor NOW!"

This was perhaps the highlight of the entire trip. I was about to see a Redneck kid get his ass beat in front of a live Walmart audience.

Sadly, the kid got up. Still screaming, but he got up off the floor. Mama handed him his Jeff Gordon folder and they took off with his five snot-nosed little sisters in their t-shirts and diapers in tow.

After about 30 minutes we had managed to map out our strategies and get a Pyrex dish, a case of dog food and a container of liquid Dove soap.

To the checkout lanes, Robin!!

Did I mention what a suck-ass shopping cart operator my wife is already??

Evidence of this fact lies in her choice of lanes yesterday.

Granted, there was not a single lane with less than ten different shoppers in it and their squawking redneck families.

So she picks the lane with 20 families in it.

It was 2:35 when we got in line.

The lady in front of us, an older woman who certainly didn't look like a redneck turned around, smiled and said "Have you ever seen such a crowd?"

I smiled and said "It's the last day before school. Looks like a lot of people waited until the last minute to buy their school supplies."

She smiled and agreed, commented on how cute Andy was and went back to waiting in line in silence.

An Angry Redneck Mama and her three kids (she must have drowned the other three) got in line behind us.

One of the kids wanted some pistachio nuts.

"You ain' gettin' no pissio nuts," the Mama said. "Them things'll crack yo' teeth somethin' fierce!"

The kid pouted, which is a sure sign of a redneck kid. They spend half their lives pouting because they were born into a family that can't afford 69 cents for a bag of pistachio nuts.

This didn't detract his younger brother and sister from spotting their favorite teeth-rotting treats in the candy section of the checkout lane.

"I wan' some M&Ms" they both started hollering.

Angry Redneck Mama got right in their faces and told them they wasn't gettin' no M&Ms. They had to spend all their money on new clothes and pencils.

The kids started to cry. Loudly.

Great. Just freakin' great.

Andy was craning his neck to see what all the commotion was about behind us. I took him out of the cart, held him to my chest so that he could look over my left shoulder at the family of rednecks as I softly patted his butt and whispered "It's okay. It's just a family of rednecks. Don't worry son...you won't ever be that way...Daddy's from Illinois and Mama's from Iowa. It's okay...it's okay."

Andy stared at the crying redneck kids with bemused fascination.

2:55 p.m.

We had moved about three feet in line. From what I could see, a woman at the front of the line had a logical complaint that a sign in the children's section of the store clearly read that all Goldberg t-shirts were half priced...yet the scanner kept ringing the shirts up at full price...$5.

The cashier wasn't gonna have none of that. She had most of her teeth and even though there were so crooked that they came jutting out the sides of her cheeks, by God, she had most of them and that meant she was one of the smartest cashiers in the store.

"Ma'am, the scanner's always right," I heard her tell the Goldberg woman.

Funny. I always thought the phrase was "The customer's always right." Apparently Snaggletooth had never came across that nugget of retail wisdom.

Goldberg Mama said she wasn't gonna pay no five dollars for a Goldberg t-shirt.

"He don' even rassle no more!" was her solid defense.

The cashier, who apparently wasn't having a good day THREW the t-shirt onto the ground and said "FINE!"

I was sure Goldberg Mama was about to put the cashier into a sleeper hold. Instead, she just called the cashier a bitch.

Aw hell. It's catfight time.

Cashier Lady didn't care about the "Bitch" comment. She just rang up the rest of the school supplies and told Goldberg her total.

Goldberg wanted to see the manager. Cashier Lady called the manager over to Aisle 13.

Great.

Just freakin' great.

It took the manager close to ten minutes to come over and tell Cashier Lady to ring the shirt up at half price.

Goldberg wins! Goldberg wins! Great God a' mighty...Goldberg has won this grudge match!

Of course, this didn't stop Goldberg from gloating.

"Eye tol' ya it was half priced," she told the cashier with a sneer. "You should know the prices in yo' own store."

The cashier told Goldberg goodbye with the same warmth employed by The Weakest Link lady and Goldberg limped off to the parking lot.

3:15 p.m.

We started crawling toward the cashier once again. The nice woman in front of us was starting to lose it. She reminded me of someone in a Prisoners of War camp.

"We're never going to get out of here," she said to Susie and I. "We're going to be stuck here forever."

She had given up hope and was apparently delerious. And she was scaring the bejeezus out of Andy who had to get home in time to watch the $10,000 Pyramid on Game Show Network because he likes all the sounds.

"We'll get out of here," I said. "And if we don't, I'm setting up camp in the snack bar."

You know...I said that for laughs.

The woman shuddered and turned back around. Apparently she's not a big fan of stale popcorn and week-old hot dogs.

By 3:30, the line was moving swiftly. Susie had discovered that she actually could change a diaper while Andy stood up in the cart in all his exposed baby penis glory, I had read most of the Enquirer and all of the Weekly World News (Did you know Bat Boy got hit by a bug truck? It's true!)and Angry Redneck Mama had even given her kids the M&Ms and pistachio nuts, let them eat them while in line and instructed them to put the empty bags in her purse so they wouldn't get charged for them.

At 3:44, we had managed to get to the front of the line. When I say "We", I mean the nice woman in front of us, who I felt we had a bond with because she wasn't threatening to "take a belt" to anyone in the store and we hadn't either.

Had I known this sweet, upper-income looking woman was going to do what she ended up doing, I woulda taken her down an hour ago and left her lifeless body in the shampoo aisle.

This woman wanted cigarettes.

In order to get cigarettes in this Walmart, you pretty much have to get clearance from the headquarters in Egypt.

There's a chain of command that is more intricate than Congress when it comes to buying a pack of smokes in Walmart.

First, the assistant manager was called over. The assistant manager didn't have the keys. The manager had the keys. The manager was in the back of the store.

The manager was called to the front of the store. After ten minutes, the manager had yet to show up, so the assistant manager was called BACK over to our aisle and was asked to go and physically find the manager.

Five minutes passed. The manager came up to the aisle wondering what was needed. A key to the cigarette booth was needed. The manager said she didn't have the keys, the assistant manager had the keys.

The assistant manager was crammed inside the school supply aisle and had no hopes of getting out of there before Wednesday.

The manager went to look for the assistant manager. The assistant manager, who had managed to escape from the school supply aisle (which explains why he's a "manager") came back to the aisle and said he couldn't find the manager.

"That's okay," the assistant manager was told. "The manager said you had the keys."

The assistant manager swore he didn't have the keys.

This was slowly turning into a Three Stooges sketch and I felt like Curly, getting poked in the eye repeatedly.

The manager and assistant manager both finally "managed" to be at our aisle at the same time. The assistant manager swore he didn't have the keys. The manager asked if he had checked his pockets. The assistant manager reached into his pockets...

AHA!!!

He DID have the keys all along!!

This felt like some kinda bizarre David Copperfield sketch, except the only person who was truly amazed was the assistant manager.

"I guess I had them all along," he grinned sheepishly and went to retrieve a carton of Marlboro Lights for the lady.

It was now 4:10. We had been in line almost 90 minutes.

The lady got her smokes, paid her money and left, wishing us "Good luck!"

I wished her a lungful of cancerous smoke. In my head, mind you.

We put our items down on the counter and with the exception of the cashier not believing that there were 24 cans of dog food in the case (she counted them one at a time to make sure), we had no problem getting our stuff and leaving.

Angry Redneck Mama behind us had three snoozing kids in her cart, two of them smeared in chocolatey goodness while the other was resting under a thin film of pistachio shells.

As we left, I swore I could hear her trying to convince the cashier that they hadn't eaten anything while in line.

I wake up this morning, content in the fact that thousands of redneck kids across this city will later be enjoying their first day of school with their shiny Jeff Gordon folders and wearing their half-priced Goldberg shirts (he don' rassle no more though...).

And all I ask is that these kids stay on the sidewalk while walking to school this morning.

Because there's one angry redneck daddy taking his kid to daycare this morning and he has given up all the free time to these children that he plans on giving this year. I don't have time to wait on them to cross a street or get out of my way.

...Damned redneck kids...

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