“Everyone does it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a red zone. Just pull the Rolls up to the store and park and bring me out a motor cart—one of the red ones. The red ones are better. They must have a better battery in them because they’re better. Why isn’t this window working? Something is wrong with the button. Someone needs to get in and get this door fixed. There it goes. Now, go and bring that cart close to me. Put Coodle-Boots in the basket and hold my door open. Don’t worry about the Rolls. No one is going to do anything to it. You only have one thing to buy. We’ll be back out in a jiff. Be careful when you round the Rolls on the way out, though. These cars in the crosswalk are a menace.
“My, the store is busy today. Don’t you think it feels busy? Of course it’s busy. Why wouldn’t it be? Wal-Mart is always busy. Why does everyone have to do their shopping on the same day? See that man. Get a cart. That man just there, tugging that door handle. He just left—in a hurry just like everyone else. Did you not see him tug that door handle? Well, he did. He tugged that door handle, and it wasn’t open, and he slipped a phone from his baggy shorts and looked at it and swayed about like that elephant the other day on National Geographic or Planet Earth. No, it was Animal Planet. Remember? Of course you don’t remember. Well, he wagged about the same way that elephant wagged his trunk at all those lions and thrust his phone back in his pocket and tugged on the door again. That was what that man just did. He swayed back and forth in front of that door and rattled the door handle and made an awful noise. You don’t like those kinds of noises. So it isn’t any surprise that you didn’t hear it.
“And then there’s you, huh, Boochy. You shiver every time someone rattles the door handle back at home, don’t you? Don’t you, Boochy-Boochy? Yes, you do, don’t you? It’s not as if it’s your fault. You can’t help it, being so helpless and all.
“Baggy shorts. Baggy shorts are so out of fashion. Grandpa George still wears them. It makes a man look suspicious when he wears baggy shorts, as if he is up to no good. The man that rattled that door just now—what was he trying to get in there for anyways? A door that is locked was locked for a reason. He was probably trying to get into that door to steal something. What does it say on it? Manager’s Office. Yep, he was probably trying to steal something.
“Isn’t that right, Snoochy-Oochy? Yes, it is, isn’t that right? Come here. There, that’s better. Stay close. No one would want you getting lost. That would be bad news for everyone, now, wouldn’t it?
“Speaking of bad news, why didn’t that door guard do anything about that thief that nearly ripped the door handle off the manager’s office? He just stood there, looking the other way. Shame on that man; he just stood there and didn’t do a single thing about it. He was trying not to notice or he was just being lazy. Either way, he wasn’t doing his job. Just like most people. People don’t do their jobs. Maybe you ought to report him. Never mind. Don’t do that. That would be a bad idea. No one is supposed to bring animals into the store unless they are designated seeing-eye animals, and you wouldn’t want to draw attention to us and get Bootsy-Tootsy thrown out now would you? No. You’d cause a spectacle and that would certainly not be a good thing to do in public. It’s what Uncle Roy used to do all the time—make a spectacle of himself, and always in public. He would bring a white hanky to his nose, stick his finger in it, and vigorously pick his nostrils, an awful gesture always followed by the waterwheel of all coughs—a truly terrifying hack. Uncle Roy would growl and churn and roar and snarl and wheeze and creak and snort and grunt, then tuck his hanky back into his back left pocket and charge onward. Heads would turn, noses would wrinkle, wide eyes would dart at one another; but Uncle Roy never saw any of that. If you didn’t know he never noticed what transpired around him, you would think he did it on purpose. But Uncle Roy never noticed anything but what he was directed at. When he walked, he drove one foot forward after the other in the pronounced stride of a man who knew exactly where he was going and exactly what he had to do.
“That’s the problem with people—tunnel vision—they never notice what transpires around them. Just like that thief. He probably didn’t even realize someone was watching him and knew exactly what he was up to. Keep your cart moving down the aisle, don’t block traffic, and don’t run over that little boy. Oh, isn’t he darling? Did you just see that? He just stuck his tongue out at me. If I were his mother, I’d teach him his manners with a wooden spoon. Be quiet. Here she comes. My, she has a lot of children. Don’t say anything. You don’t want to make a scene.
“Looks like you have your hands full.
“No wonder her children are destitute of manners. She hasn’t any time to teach them outside of wrestling all those kids back into her cart. She’s around the corner. You can breathe again. My, she had, what, three children? Who has three children anymore? It’s unheard of. Hasn’t the woman ever heard of contraceptives? Aren’t they passing them out like candy these days?
“What box is that? Honeywell Electric Whole Room Heater, HZ, 855 WMT. It says it heats the whole room. It’s simple to use. Get this one. It’s just what your house needs. Your house has been getting terribly drafty. All right, then. You found your heater. Push your cart down to the front and get there before everyone else gets there and you get stuck for twenty minutes behind one of those young sloozies who can’t resist taking a peak at what those dirty fashion magazines have to say about Jennifer Aniston or Kim Kardashian. And pick up a Globe for me while you’re at it. Apparently there’s ‘Final Proof Obama Was Born in Africa.’ I’ll meet you by the carts after you do your business at the counter. The carts. The other end of the store. The carts!
“Come here, Woochy-Coochy. Snuggle Momma. Yes, Snuggly-Wuggly, ah, huh; you’re so snuggly.”
“¿No está hablando a nadie? ¿Por qué?”
“People on cell phones are so inconsiderate. You find a quiet corner in a store and someone on a cell phone has to find your same corner and start fog horning. And in Spanish, no less. She acts as if she could care less who she’s interrupting, as if nobody else was even here. It would be nice if someone could understand a word of what she was saying. She shouldn’t be allowed to speak on the phone in Spanish with the rest of society not knowing what she’s talking about. This is an English-speaking country not a Spanish-speaking country. You’d think somebody would take notice and do something about it. Besides, it’s rude to intrude on someone else’s quiet corner without their knowing what it is that you’re trying to hide from everyone else. What is it with people who stand in someone else’s solitary spot and start honking away on their phone without the slightest bit of respect for the person they’ve intruded on? Honk. Honk. Honk. Not the slightest bit of respect.
“It’s outright disrespectful, Moochy, isn’t it? Isn’t it, Moochy- Goochy? Yes, it is, isn’t it. You’re being so good. Cell phone users are a menace. That’s why you make a fuss every time the phone rings, isn’t it, my Witto Snuggle-Gums? Bark away. Good, she’s leaving. I hope she heard you.
“It sure is taking a long time. What are you doing over there? Stop talking to that cashier already. All right, jump in the cart, Choochy-Poochy. My, you’re getting heavy.
“What took you so long? Keep my Globe in the bag, dear. I’ll take it out when we’re back in the car. How much did your heater cost you? Where is the receipt? Forty-five dollars? But the tag underneath it said twenty-five. That’s Wal-Mart for you—always trying to rip somebody off with those ‘Every Day Low Prices’. If the economy wasn’t doing so badly, you wouldn’t need to buy your heater at Wal-Mart. But it’s going to get better. It has to. You voted, didn’t you? Sure you did. Who did you vote for? It doesn’t matter. The economy is going to come back if it takes two years or twenty years, but until then you’ll just have to keep buying your heaters at Wal-Mart.
“With all these customers everywhere, it’s a wonder anyone can get around. People should not be in such a hurry. It causes indigestion. People need to plan their day better and not show up at the store all at the same time. Herd mentality. That’s what it is: herd mentality.
“Now, you see. There goes a shoplifter. And look. That guard didn’t do a thing about it. That young man walked right through the thief monitors, right out the way people come in, which is always suspicious, and the monitor lights flashed and the siren sounded and that guard didn’t even turn his head. He just looked at his watch. That young hooligan got off scot free. Maybe you ought to say something to that guard. You know something, that’s the same guard who refused to do a single thing about that criminal who was breaking and entering the store manager’s office. Don’t say anything to him. He’s probably a criminal conspirator. Just keep walking. You don’t want to look like your loitering. He’s likely to get suspicious and call the police. They never call the police on criminals. It’s always on the innocent. You can write a letter of complaint and mail it to the store tomorrow. Mail it to corporate. That will get him fired, and probably the manager too. Corporate always takes incidents like these seriously. Something needs to be done about these felons. It’s when they don’t catch felons the cost of heaters goes from twenty-five to forty-five dollars. The bottom line is that companies always take it out of customers like you.”