Friday, May 23, 2008

Wal-Mart: Low Prices, High Aggravation Levels

I have some breaking news for the greater Baton Rouge area: a 6 month-old baby was taken into custody by the Wal-Mart on Airline Highway in Prairieville. Either someone abandoned their child there or Wal-Mart intervened in a messy situation, but either way it's heartbreaking.

This also just in: Wal-Mart slashes prices on used babies.

Yes, that's right, you're hearing this first from the Tantrum. Our senior "Wal-Mart / Baby" correspondent, Betty, was live on the scene and was able to speak to the night manager about the incident.

You see, Betty did the unthinkable and tried to use the Self Checkout line. I don't know how many times I have to say it, but apparently it needs to be said again: If you're ever in Wal-Mart and have more than 10 items in your cart but every other line is 30 people deep, don't wait in line! Just push your loaded-down cart to the "10 Items or Less" aisle and start unpacking. They will have absolutely no choice but to check you and your $278 worth of groceries out.

Unfortunately, my wife is one of those people who respects other people and respects the rules, and that is why she is the topic of tonight's blog.

Betty self-checked out $50 worth of frozen food and billions of dollars worth of non-frozen goods. But then the receipt didn't print out. She figured that she might need to return one or two items down the line since she bought different diaper sizes for Anne, etc, but in order to return any items she would need a receipt. So like any rule-abiding citizen she asked the person who helps the people checking out at the Self Checkout registers for help.

Let's talk about the person who mans the Self Checkout counter. This is a person who generally is not trusted enough to scan other people's stuff through the counter, and as a punishment, is forced to help people as they curse their way through the Self Checkout lane. It's basically where Wal-Mart pledges are hazed before they can join the Eternal Order of the Wal-Martians.

Also, apparently the task of changing the paper roll in the Self Checkout register is limited to the one person who rules Wal-Mart with supreme executive power: the manager. Not the floor manager or the register manager, but the friggin manager manager.

The Self Checkout manager called the real manager on the loud speaker ten times, but no manager appeared. Several other lesser-demon managers appeared but could not conjure the key to the Self Checkout register's paper roll dispenser.

After a while Betty just wanted to leave, sans frozen food, since it was melting all over the floor. But she had already paid for it, and couldn't return it without a receipt. So she kept waiting... and waiting. 45 minutes went by, and Betty was getting more flustered as time went on.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Anne and I were watching the biography of Steven Spielberg on the Biography channel.

Finally, the manager appeared and apologized to Betty. She said that there was an incident with a 6 month-old baby and that she had to stay back there with the baby until the authorities arrived. The manager started bawling in front of Betty. Then Betty, once furious, now sympathetic, started thinking about her own baby and started crying herself. The manager gave Betty a $50 gift card, which we plan to spend on a quarter tank of gas the next time she needs to fill up.

And to think, if Betty would have just not followed the rules and more importantly had not tried to use the self checkout line, all of this could have been avoided.

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