If you read my previous post, "Venting" then you know I had an absolutely horrendous shopping excursion at a grocery store that shall remain nameless. (I'll give you a hint -- it's just Basically Food...) A staff member was rude, a customer was even worse and Michelle had a Stage Three Meltdown at the checkout. I used to shop there because it's cheap but after that experience I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and frankly I don't think I'd go back if they were GIVING food away. Thankfully now another store has restored my faith in mankind and retail kind. This time I'm not venting, I'm raving. In a nutshell -- Walmart rocks!
After my grocery nightmare last week I actually never wanted to set foot in ANY store again, period. I was toying with the idea of becoming a shut-in and just ordering groceries online from now on (apparently it's only $12 for the delivery fee to Grocery Gateway, mind you they get their groceries from Longo's which tends to be on the pricey side. But it might be worth it to avoid the hassle.) Anyway I realized I needed a couple of things so I decided to bravely venture out again, this time to Walmart. Good old Walmart has everything. Groceries. Housewares. Clothes. You name it. I hoped that I'd make it through the store without incident.
I knew I was off to a good start when there was a "Parent with Child" parking space available right in front of the door. Score! I was quite pleasantly surprised. Most stores don't even have those spots (especially the bargain basement stores who couldn't care less about their customers) and even when a store actually has those spots, they are ALWAYS full. I finally caught a break. Then I managed to get a cart with a single bar across the front that accomodates the car seat (which doesn't always happen. The new stupid carts have a double bar so that the seat doesn't click on properly so you have to just hold onto the seat and hope it doesn't fall off. If I put it in the large part of the cart there would be no room to put anything else which defeats the purpose of shopping!) So that was awesome. With my trusty list in hand, I bee-lined it through the store grabbing what I needed (they actually had everything in stock) and hoping Michelle would let me finish without a screaming fit. Success! I was done and Michelle was still behaving. But when I headed for the checkout, my heart sank. There were MASSIVE line-ups. "Oh God," I thought, "here we go again!"
Then suddenly something miraculous happened.
As if he had read my mind, a very kind male employee (who, it turned out, was the manager) said "Come with me" and escorted me to a register with a "Lane closed" sign.
"But he's closed..." I said, incredulously.
"His break can wait. I don't want to leave a lady with a baby waiting. Just tell him Ron sent you."
Wow. Was this really happening? I got to bypass the line-ups? Was someone actually being considerate to a woman with a baby?!
So I told the cashier, whose name was James, that "Ron sent me." I thought he might be annoyed to have to wait for his break but he couldn't have been more friendly and enthusiastic. Michelle was so pleased not to be stuck in a line that she didn't even act up. Rather than complain, James was happy to help me out. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. A store that actually cares about its customers! Imagine that! Employees that are sweet and helpful, that act like it's their pleasure to help you. And Michelle wasn't crying. It was the perfect contrast to my hellish grocery store experience. I was grinning ear to ear. Something so simple but it had made my day.
Then Ron came over to talk to James and I thanked the two of them again profusely.
"You can't imagine how much I appreciate this. I went through hell at (insert evil grocery store name here) the other day with her screaming at the checkout."
"We try to make our customers happy. After all, without you we wouldn't have a job."
And here I thought chivalry was dead. I hugged him.
"I'm going to tweet about this on Twitter!" I told him.
And I did. That night, I went on Twitter to thank Ron and James at Walmart for their amazing customer service.
Women with small babies shouldn't have to wait in a long line. Thank you Walmart and especially thank you to Ron for recognizing that! In the long run, he not only helped me but everyone in the area because they didn't all have to listen to a shrieking infant. The sound of a screaming baby is just about the most stressful noise there is, especially when it's your own.
I remember when Walmart was first coming to town, years ago. A lot of people were against it. They even had a petition going to ban it. Someone asked me to sign it. "Are you out of your mind?" I said at the time, "I love Walmart!" but today I mean that more than ever. Not only are their prices and selection great but their staff are friendly, kind and thoughtful. I hear that Walmart will even match prices so if you really wanted you could bring them the flyer from that hellhole bargain basement grocery store (that treats you like crap, doesn't care if you wait in line for 30 minutes with a screaming baby, has no parent parking, advertises a bunch of things on sale to get you into the store and has none of them in stock, employs a surly band of unhelpful nitwits and attracts customers who are rude busybodies who will insult you in line when your baby cries, but I'm not bitter! OK maybe a tad. Sorry this is probably the longest run-on parenthetical statement ever!) and still pay those prices for the things you need. The nice stores are too expensive and the inexpensive stores aren't nice. But then there's Walmart. It's clean. It's simple. It's affordable. Their slogan "Save money. Live better." is true.
With money being tight and shopping being just about my least favourite thing these days, I probably won't be going out much, but let me tell you, if I need something again, I'm heading to Walmart! No doubt. They kick the competition's a$$! They have no competition. Other stores can try to do what they do, but they don't come close. That was actually one of the arguments people had against Walmart coming to town. "They're going to put other stores out of business!" Well I can see why. Maybe other stores don't want your business. Maybe they don't know anything about customer service. Maybe they are charging too much. Why would I pay $50 for something if I can get it for $20? And why would I shop somewhere that treats me like garbage if I can shop somewhere that treats me with respect?
There's something comforting about Walmart too. The uniformity. They're pretty much the same everywhere you go. The ubiquity. They're everywhere. It feels like home. Someone even wrote a book about living in a Walmart. You could. It has everything you need.
I used to laugh at those photos on the internet -- The People of Walmart or "Walmartians." Some of them I thought had to have been photoshopped. Surely nobody actually dressed that way, even on Halloween. But now that I think about it, I think it's cool that an old man in a tutu, or a 400 lb woman in a bikini, or any nearly naked, cross-dressing, clown wig wearing, dinosaur tail wagging customer can shop there and not be turned away. It's refreshing to know that you are accepted and valued as a customer no matter what. "Give us your tired, your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores..." Anyway, who am I to judge? These days I haven't been quite as particular about my own appearance. Half the time I'm wearing sweats, with my greasy hair in a ponytail, my face a mess. One day I came home and realized my mascara was smudged and running from getting caught in the rain and my hair was sticking up in a weird way at the back because I'd just thrown on a ponytail thing quickly so Michelle wouldn't pull my hair. Walmart doesn't care what you look like. Mullets. Colostomy bags. Butt cracks. Let it all hang out. "Welcome to Walmart" the greeter says as you enter the store. No matter who you are. Be yourself. Come on in and shop.
The other cool thing about Walmart is when they start being open 24 hours. I don't know if that's already started this year or if it's just closer to Christmas. I remember previous years going shopping in the wee hours of the morning. Perfect for a night owl. It was so peaceful. No line-ups. There were a couple of questionable looking characters but I probably looked pretty questionable myself! Who shops at 3 a.m.? I do! Maybe not this year although it might be a good idea. Michelle would probably be asleep and there wouldn't be a line at all...
Not every trip to Walmart has gone as perfectly as my last one but overall, it's usually pretty good. I find what I need rather quickly. Usually the items they advertise are actually in the store (what a concept!) Efficiency. I love it. Get in. Get out. Michelle likes Walmart too. Mommy runs through the place in 15 minutes and sometimes doesn't even have to wait in line. Not like those other stores. Michelle doesn't even have time to get hungry or mess her diaper. Good customer service is good business. With so much competition out there, customer loyalty is everything. If you make your customers happy, they'll keep coming back. If you keep my baby and I happy, I'll be a loyal customer for life! If you alienate us, we may shake the dust off our proverbial sandals and never set foot in there again. Thank you again to Walmart for a pleasant shopping experience when I needed one most of all.