Today I extracted a sliver from a finger, washed out eyeballs that got some thing scratchy in them, cleaned out an old foot wound, dealt with the 'fun' of a suspected uti, checked for broken bones when one of my tiny geniuses attempted flight, and had a blood- splurting gash on my hand from a broken glass-that actually made me consider how I would load up the kids and drive to the ER if I couldn't get the bleeding under control. That felt like a lot. Then this happened...
When I entered through the giant sliding doors and passed under the icy blast of air conditioning, I was an average Walmart shopper, just like so many others. I had my list, my three kids who were out dangerously close to lunch time, and the goal of getting in and out of there as quickly as possible with those listed items. And we were doing so well! My cart was full- yes I had two boys in the basket and my daughter in the seat but also nearly all the things we came in for. None of my crew were yelling, throwing things, or being otherwise obnoxious. That last elusive item was causing me to back track through the store when my youngest, who had gotten eerily quiet, let out a whimper and then threw up all over his brother's lap and down through the cart.
Thankfully he missed all the items in the cart but Corbin let out a yowl and burst into tears to accompany Leo's . Mila watched on perplexed. I removed vomit covered boys from the cart and frantically searched for one of those clean up stations. A lady with a cart rounded the corner, beheld the carnage, and then made a hasty retreat. But not before making eye contact with me and giving me the look of horror. I grabbed Leo's hand, told his brother to keep up, and pushed the cart to the nearest main aisle. Thankfully an employee with a cart full of cleaning supplies appeared on the horizon- I changed course and rushed up to her. "Excuse me! We need a clean up a few rows over- we're looking for some paper towels but don't anyone to get hurt back there..."
I was answered with an icy stare. I motioned toward Leo- soaked and sobbing- and gestured back toward our puddle. She nodded and slowly pushed her cart of cleaning supplies away- without offering me so much as a paper towel.
I pushed on- if we could find something to wipe off the boys, we could get to the front of the store with the cart, run into the bathroom, and return to check out super fast. That was not to be.
Nearly every back to school shopper- nose buried in a list of supplies and weary- eyed children following behind them- proceeded to cut us off in our efforts to escape. Leo's pitch rose and I looked down in time to watch him hurl in front of the paint department. The employee I had seen just seconds ago restocking a shelf had magically vanished. Corbin whined louder and declared this to be 'very bad.'
I pushed the cart a few feet further, still wondering if there was any hope in purchasing the things in there and Leo lost his cookies once again in front of pet supplies.
Decision made for me, I unstrapped Mila, grabbed her and Leo's hands, and pointed Corbin toward the bathrooms. We darted around other shoppers, Leo pitifully crying the whole way and Corbin running with his legs spread wide to avoid feeling the nastiness.
Mila stumbled about 100 yards from the bathrooms so I scooped her up mid-stride and barrel carried her under one arm. Any college football coach would have been proud of our darting and lurching.
At this point shoppers could NOT be oblivious to our spectacle. Wide eyes followed our trajectory and came to their own conclusions. A few snickered. One stooped to wave at Leo and say hello. We blundered past and I gave the lady an incredulous look.
The restrooms were blocked by the long line of customers waiting for returns. I shoved Corbin through a gap and dragged Leo behind. I think I actually leapt over a preschool aged girl who was sitting in the middle of the floor. We finally all tumbled into the bathroom and I got Leo to the sink. And realized there were no paper products to be seen. 'You're kidding me!' I blurted out to the universe or the powers of Walmart or the two teenagers 'hanging out' in the bathroom. I didn't even know. Or care. I splashed Leo a bit and told Corbin tough luck until we got to the car. And turned and hustled my clan out of the restroom, back through the line of returners, across the lobby, and out the door where a clueless employee dared to call out "Thank you for shopping at Walmart!" I stifled the millions of responses I wanted to shout back and made it to the car where paper towels and wet wipes awaited.
All before 12:30. Contemplating a 1:00 happy hour...