As I have mentioned before, I do my marketing (grocery shopping) at Wal-Mart every Friday night. It is an interesting place to be on a Friday. I try to go about 9 or 10, but sometimes I’m busy and I don’t get there till later. Occasionally, I can’t get there until midnight or later, but I always try to go so I won’t be behind on Saturday–and Saturday afternoon is the worst time to traipse down the grocery aisles.
In some ways, Wal-Mart is even more interesting after midnight. There are fewer people there, but these few hardy souls make up for their small number with their uniqueness. I often see a guy in a tuxedo or a girl in formal attire. It’s not unusual to see a group of 4 or 5 guys, or less often girls, buying groceries by committee. College room-mates, I guess. Seems like an inefficient way to shop, but I guess it’s better that they learn that lesson now than later when they try to do something important by committee.
Here is something I bet you didn’t know: Wal-Mart has a radio station. Really. It’s a national station for all stores. It plays music for the overnight stockers starting at 11 PM. It has a request line and a real live DJ. I’m thinking about calling in a dedication for the stockers in frozen aisles. You know that’s got to get a bit chilly, especially in the winter.
When I was ready to checkout tonight (last night?), it was a good bit later than midnight. You see, I’ve been studying food and cooking the last few years and a trip to the grocery store is a chance to learn something new. I try to look for some item or ingredient I’ve never used that I can add to my repertoire. Tonight it was ravioli. Not in a can–frozen ravioli that needs to be cooked. A few weeks ago it was tortellini. I haven’t quite got that worked out yet; ask my kids.
As I was saying, when I got ready to go, it was a good bit after midnight and only one checkout was open. (By the way, here is a tip for you infrequent late-night shoppers: If there is ever only one checkout open, it will be number 15.) After a few minutes, they opened a self-check for 20 items or less, but that only helped me by shortening the line by one. Combining the rationing of open registers, my recreational view of marketing, the drive home and the putting away of groceries (after midnight, I don’t get much help there) it’s getting rather late. And if I decide to blog about it, it gets even later.
Tonight was a bit mild, so let me leave you with a couple of highlights from last week. That time, I was there at a reasonable time, 9 or so, so this isn’t midnight strangeness, just the usual Wal-Mart Friday night strangeness. When I was on aisle 4, canned vegetables, I noticed a lady pause a bit behind me. I figured she was waiting to get something from the shelves where I was, so I got what I needed and moved on, leaving the educational part of the trip for another aisle. However, instead of stopping where I had been, she came up beside me, pulled a sheet of paper out of a manila envelope and asked if she could ask me a few (more) questions. I said sure and she asked me if I had a personal relationship with God. I said yes, I was a Christian. She said fine and said I could have the handout anyway. I took it and said thanks as she moved on. I guess Wal-Mart doesn’t like that, but, think about it: Cold-call evangelism in the grocery section of Wal-Mart on a Friday night. That takes nerves of steel.
A few minutes later on aisle 6, a guy came barreling down the aisle. He seemed in a hurry. He had a blue-tooth headset on one ear and was talking to someone, his wife I think. I wish I could have heard both sides of the conversation, but all I heard was: “Come on, talk baby. Be like an announcer. Alabama’s got the ball, it’s third down. What’s going on?” I guess it was Alabama’s bowl game he couldn’t live without.
If life ever gets boring, just go to Wal-Mart and shop for groceries on a Friday night, the later the better. I’ll see you there. I’ll be guy reading the cooking instructions on the package of frozen ravioli.