Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nightmare at KMart

There are a number of places I won't go and going to a bigbox store is high on my list of places to avoid at all cost. I have never been inside a Wal-Mart, I have only been to Target once and that was because I'd heard an old friend was working there and I wanted to see her--she'd disappeared for all her friends, and I'd bet her working at Target was one of the reasons she wasn't answering her phone. But yesterday I got a call from my friend who has cancer and she wanted me to run an errand for her.

I've been trying to get Z to let me do something for her, so this call to run an errand was just what I wanted. That is, until she told me where she wanted me to go. She assured me that she'd called ahead and asked them if they had the panties she wanted in the size and color she wanted. Yes, they told her yes they did. They are lying bastards but I'll get back to that later.

Ms M was here when Z called and told me to tell her that the KMart was closed. But no, sadly they are still open. Z's call to check on the panties she says she always buys there confirmed that they were open since they answered the phone as KMart and informed her that they had the items in stock. So after chain smoking for twenty minutes and getting stoned, I headed out to KMart. The road Z told me to take was closed so I had to detour to another route. I found it and parked in their huge and nearly empty parking lot. When I walked in the door, I had a dizzy spell and felt like I was going to faint. First sign of a panic attack.

I tried to spot a human being who worked there and finally located one woman. She pointed me in the direction of "Intimate Apparel." It was only half a mile away. Once there I spotted the wall with the packages of panties. They were supposed to have Jockey briefs in four-packs, size 5. Jesus! Size 5? I don't think I've ever worn a size 5 women's panty. The last panties I bought were a size 7 and they're a bit snug now, so I graduate to a bigger size next time I go hunting for panties on sale. Anyway, there were no packs of any kind in the Jockey brand. They had Fruit of the Loom, Pink, and various other brands of panties in the style called "briefs." This is "old woman's panties" for you children. Once the wall of bagged panties had been searched over and over to my growing annoyance, I started in on the standing fixtures. No Jockey brand anything. I think of checking out the men's underwear, but finally decide that's pointless since even if they have the Jockey brand they won't have old ladies panties in the men's department.

I search the adjoining departments looking for someone who works in the store. Nada. Zip. Zero humans of any kind working or shopping. It is an almost empty big box store. I can feel myself growing angrier by the second. I'm starting to shake with rage. I want to stand there and just scream. But I get a grip and start the long march back to the checkout lines. In the middle of the check out lines there is one lone guy doing nothing. There are no customers to check out. He just stands there kind of loitering. As I get closer it looks to me like he is mentally handicapped. Since I am mentally handicapped I have some compassion. None of this is his fault and I can't be mad at him. I ask him to page someone to meet me in women's panties. He just looks confused, so I launch myself into the story of my errand. Finally he nods, and picks up the phone. I hear his voice go sailing out into the empty space. It seems to echo back at us. I head back to what he called "ladies panties." "Could someone please meet a customer in ladies panties?"

I wait what seems like five minutes or so shuffling from foot to foot, now loitering alone in ladies panties. Finally a very short, round, Hispanic woman approaches me. I tell her what I'm looking for and she does exactly what I did. She goes through the entire wall of panties and then says, "We must not carry them." I tell her about Z's call to confirm that they, KMart, not only carried them but had the four packs in the style and two colors she wanted and they had them in her size. She just looks at me and shrugs. I say, "Would you call my friend and tell her that you, a KMart employee, have told me, after a careful search, that no, you do not have the panties she called about and was told KMart carries and had in stock in her size?"

We head back to the front of the store where customer service is hidden in a cubby. She picks up a phone and asks me for Z's number. She calls. Z's son takes the call and the passes the phone to Z. The Hispanic clerk tells Z they don't have the panties she wants. Z tells her that she called and was told that they do to have her panties and tells her what they are. The clerk is nodding her head through all of this and then says, "Oh yes, we have those." I am gob stopped. I am standing there with my mouth hanging open. WTF? We both searched the place. No they don't have them. But now we trudge back across the store to the "intimate appearal department. We do the whole thing again. I find a pack of brand "Pink" old ladies white panties. They are 100% cotton. It's a six pack, not a four pack and there are no black "Pink" panties at all. So back we go, and this time I'm packing the six pack of brand Pink panties. Again the call. Again the discussion. Then I just reach over and take the phone. I tell Z exactly what's happened. She says, "But I don't understand it. I called. They said they had them. In my size." I tell her about the "Pink" panties and get her permission to buy them. It only takes ten minutes to ring them up.

When I leave the store with a bag clutched to my chest, I'm gasping for air and shaking with rage. It's taken over an hour to run an unsuccessful errand. I get lost looking for Z's street coming from a different direction. I'm lost in BFE.

When I get to Z's I've used a quarter of a tank of gas and my patience. I have no reserves. I must get myself under control so I don't bring bad energy into her house. I know how deadly my bad energy can be. So I do a little deep breathing on the front porch before I let myself in. I find her on the back porch surrounded by the three most competent men in her life. They are calm and sweet. By the time I leave, I feel almost normal again.


Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Most of the employees at K-Mart and Walmart desperately need a job coach. It sounds awful to hear me say that but, unfortunately, it is kind of true.

susan said...

This just goes to show what a good and dear friend you are.

I was only in a Wal-mart once, in Ontario OR. We'd driven across the country in 5 days when I got my period early and it was the only store we could find close to the hiway hotel. The greeter didn't like the look of us and wouldn't let us pass until I told him I was about to bleed all over his floor.

Utah Savage said...

I think they were trained to know and say yes to whatever was asked. Unless perhaps I'd been returning the bag o panties.

PENolan said...

You know - Macy's and Lord & Taylor both carry the very same damn jockey briefs.

They also carry nicer items in the Jockey underwear line. They were on sale Buy 2 Get 1 Free just the other day. I know because I stocked up.

Check with me before you go into one of those F-ing stores again. I used to need Valium and extra Depakote to simply walk into Macy's Herald Square. There's not enough weed in the world to fortify oneself for KMart.

La Belette Rouge said...

OMG, that is so funny and kind of sweet that the round and short Hispanic woman would call your friend for you. You are a good and patient friend.

I do enjoy Target. Wal-Mart turns me into a whirling dervish of upset. I HATE that place. K-mart is just a little less gruesome than the big W.

The Peach Tart said...

You are a great friend and I too hate K-Mart. They make it hard to shop there. I do also like Target but not sure if they carry Jockey. Big hugs.

Sherry Pasquarello said...

you are a true friend. you really are.

Laura said...

All of the KMarts closed up here in Canada years ago. Of course they were replaced with Walmarts.
I don't like them either but they are a necessary evil for me. I enjoy the one stop shopping AND they are the only place in town that gives you a bag without charging for it (I'm sure that will change soon though).
It was nice of that lady to call Z for you. :)

Nan said...

Kmart is one of those stores where when you're in one you really wonder why on earth it's still open.

I hate big box stores, too, like the Super Walmarts, Targets, etc., where you feel like you need a couple Sherpas to serve as guides (or to pack your body out when you finally collapse from frustration), but Kmart may be one of the worst when it comes to customer service because the employees are all like something out of Dawn of the Dead. It's like they know they're working on the Titanic, so they all have a "why bother?" attitude. They probably figure the next step down in the labor market can't be much worse than where they are now. There's a Kmart not far up the highway from us, and I swear on a typical Saturday afternoon there'll be barely half a dozen cars in the parking lot. I truly do not understand how they manage to stay open.

I refuse to shop at a Walmart for multiple reasons, the biggest being Walmart has done more to destroy the U.S. economy than any other retailer on the planet with their incessant race to the bottom. They drove many US and Canadian firms that had been supplying them with products to shut down North American plants and move overseas in search of cheap labor, because no matter how low a vendor would try to supply goods, it was never low enough for the House of Satan.

Cirze said...

You gotta control yourself, sweetie. (I know. I know. How can you?)

These stores are meant to drive us crazy (and then hand all our money over to them when we buy the junk they offer (at the best price!)).

K-Mart bought Sears in 2005 and it's been downhill for both since (but especially K-mart) and they both are now buying merchandise almost exclusively from Vietnam and other child-labor-friendly countries. Don't go there unless you are truly looking for angel status.

Take care.

Love you,


Dean Wormer said...

Customer service is a lost art. I think about that scene in Back to the Future where the car pulls up to a gas station and like 8 attendants descend on the thing checking the oil, the tire pressure, etc. At the time in the 80's that the movie was released this scene was pretty funny.

I don't think it's funny anymore.

Jackass libertarians have somehow been able to equate service with socialism and self-service (i.e. no service) with rugged individualism.

Also- stores like K-Mart and Walmart built their reputation in par on service. I guess they don't care about it anymore.

Also also - in this economy with hundreds of people competing for each job opening employees would be a little more serious about their jobs.

Fran said...

K Mart shoppers can get their panties in a bunch trying to find the panties they said they had, but do not. Our local K Mart tanked & went out of business.
We used their empty lot for him to learn how to drive.

K art has shitty stuff. bad quality.

Big box stores--- always the thing I want is in tinbucktu.... ask the high school clerk where an item is, you get the answer...

On aisle 47...... I think....


But heres a suggestion-- go to the jockey web site & see if you can order the panties there.

Or find what local retailers sell them & you can call ahead to see if they are in stock!!!

Doh! De ja vu!

Such a smart ass I am!!!

Utah Savage said...

The reason for the need for panties was the doctor appointment with the best Pulmonary Oncologist in Utah up the hill at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Never go to the doctor without new white panties. Like he give a crap or even notices! It was much ado about nothing. I'm guessing the last time she was in the store was two or three years ago so that statement. "I always buy my panties there, might have been long enough that they no longer carry them.

Randal Graves said...

But did they have greeters?

Wait. What? said...

Customer service at target- k-mart or walmart is I thought Unheard of. At least you were able to get something to meet her need and so glad you were better one you left.

Unknown said...

A good pantie is hard to find. ;-)

Beach Bum said...

Just visit a K-Mart or a Wal-Mart very late at night or early in the morning.
While my wife was pregnant with my son about 2:00am one morning she woke me up demanding banana Popsicles. This was the summer of 1995 and at the time just one of the local Wal-Marts stayed open 24/7. Being a dutiful and good husband, and under the threat of a painful death if I failed in my mission I saddled up and drove across town for the artificially flavored ice.

It was a bad scene at the parking lot as I pulled in with a several cop cars, a bunch of cops, ambulance with a figure inside completely covered, and one of those chalk outlines in the asphalt.

Inside I swear I saw an alien, two zombies, some guy with walking through the aisles talking with Jesus, mad that Elvis wouldn't share the peanut butter back home. Then there were the rednecks and it was then I got scared.