I needed a wheelbarrow, hygiene products, beer, deodorant, soda, a memory card, and shotgun shells. In America, this means one thing: A trip to WalMart.
I was dismayed to wander their vast garden department and discover that apparently wheelbarrows are no longer a thing? At least at this Wally World they weren't. Nor were there any nice wagons in the toy department I'd trust for garden cart duty.
Off to Sporting Goods for some ammo. There were a couple boxes of Federal 9x19 and about a case of TulAmmo, and stocks of .40 and .45 were back to normal levels. Deuce-deuce was still completely absent save five boxes of CCI Stingers.
Even though the "3 Box Limit" sign was gone, I decided to ration myself to a box of Federal 9mm, a 50-round value pack of Remington L223R3V to help replenish stocks after the CTC match, and a box of shotgun shells. I looked around for someone in Sporting Goods to help me, but found no one.
Nor did I find anyone in the adjacent departments: Toys, Automotive, Housewares, Lawn & Garden, Hardware... the entire northern fourth of the store was like the Empty Quarter, devoid of blue-shirted life.
I returned to Sporting Goods, where another customer had showed up at the ammo cases. He was calling his buddy about the inventory levels, asking if he wanted the Federal 9x19. I informed him that I was waiting on one of the boxes myself. He was cool with that.
I pulled out my own cell phone, used the portable magic elf box to get the phone number of the 73rd Street Wally World (2.2 out of 5 stars in Google!) and called the front desk, informing them that I was calling them from inside their own store, and could they get somebody in Sporting Goods?
*Customer needs assistance in Sporting Goods. Customer needs assistance in Sporting Goods.* came over the intercom.
By this time, a third person had showed up, looking for help. We chatted a bit. Still nobody.
I called the front desk again. She explained there was a manager's meeting going on, but she'd try to get somebody back there.
*Customer needs assistance in Sporting Goods. Customer needs assistance in Sporting Goods.* again.
Another couple showed up seeking assistance, this time with questions about fishing stuff. There was now a little knot of us, growing increasingly agitated. I checked my watch. I'd been waiting twenty-five minutes at this point.
I pulled out the magic elf box again, and looked something up on the internet. The number I was looking for was 1-800-WAL-MART.
"Hello, yes, I do wish to discuss my shopping experience. The one I'm having now. Yes, right now. I'm standing in the Sporting Goods department of your store at 7325 Keystone Avenue in Indianapolis, and have been standing here for twenty-five minutes despite two calls to the front desk..."
The person on the other end was polite and helpful sounding. Less than five minutes after I hung up...
*Will a salaried member of management pick up the phone? Corporate on line one. Will a salaried member of management pick up the phone? Corporate on line one.*
Two minutes after that somebody showed up with the keys to the case and got us our ammunition with a quickness, as well as a level of obsequious toadying that would please a Whole Foods customer. You'd have thought we were a trade delegation from Dubai and not a handful of J. Random Customers needing shotgun shells.
Five minutes later, as I was pushing my cart through the grocery department, my phone rang. It was Josh or Justin or Dustin or somebody from Bentonville, sincerely asking me if everything had been resolved to my satisfaction and was I having a pleasant shopping experience? Why, yes, Josh or Justin or Dustin, I am now, thanks to you guys at corporate. You need to crack the whip on this store more often.
I'll tell you what, they may have the occasional substandard store, but as a company? WalMart isn't playing around.