Little League season is here! And that means new cleats for the boy, who is a man now, in terms of shoe sizes. We decided to check out the offerings at WalMart before heading to our local Expensive Sporting Goods store. I do hate going to WalMart. I liked this one when it first opened a few months ago, but it is already smelly and cluttered just like every other WalMart I've ever been in. But, sometimes we have to shop in stores we dislike.
So we went to the shoe area and there were cleats! Lots of cleats, in lots of sizes. Of course the size we needed was way up high.
I looked around for someone to help me. No people in sight, but there was a rolling stepladder at the end of the aisle, so I went over to fetch it. Hmm, there was a sign with "ASSOCIATES ONLY" in big forbidding letters chained across the steps. But the sign wasn't blocking the steps... I started to wheel it toward the cleats. The boy grinned conspiratorially at me. "Mo-ommm, it says 'associates only' on it..." The girl looked uneasy. "Mom! Don't do it! You know you'll hurt yourself." Such a lack of confidence. Why it's been almost a week since I hurt my knees ice skating (the bruises and swelling are nearly gone), and right now my hands are band-aid free - I've avoided cooking injuries for a while now!
But I stopped and went looking for an associate to climb for me. No one around, except for two ladies shootin' the breeze in the next aisle. Could they be -? No, they weren't wearing the blue vest of the WalMart associate and were quite intent on their chat.
Determined to get those $7 cleats, I moved the ladder. The boy chuckled nervously under his breath. The girl watched anxiously. I stepped on the first step. She flinched. "It's OK, honey, the wheels lock down when you step on it." I knew she was worried I'd go flying across the back aisle and into the row of men's work boots at the back of the store.
I reached up for the top box. The one I wanted was the 2nd one down. I almost had it... and then it fell. Did that girl scream? No, it didn't hit her. I got the box I wanted. "Hey, pick that up, willya honey? You OK?" I asked as I climbed down and handed the desired box to the boy.
She was fine but the crash woke up the two ladies chatting next door. They rushed over indignantly. Ah, so they were associates!
"What are you doing? That says it's for associates only!" one hissed at me. "You could have gotten hurt."
"Well, I couldn't find anyone to help me, and I needed shoes that were on the top."
"Well, we were right there in the next aisle!" Boy was she was mad! Then she turned to my girl and softened her tone just a little: "Are you OK?" My good girl gazed at her suspiciously and nodded silently.
"I had no way of knowing you were employees- "
"Well, actually, I'm off the clock now" interjected the 2nd lady smugly. Ah ha, I thought, I see... she's on her own time, but the other is hacked off at me for busting her while gossiping instead of working. I went on: "You looked like two customers chatting. I had no way to know you work here."
The off-the-clock lady slunk away. The one on the clock changed her attitude. "Are you finding everything you need now? Do you need any other sizes?" She busied herself with the stepladder and straightened up a shelf or two.
No, we didn't. The cleats were fine. I handed her the box I'd knocked off the stack. "We don't need these. Have a good day!"
The boy was trying to hold in his laughter; the girl was quiet and, I think, embarrassed, though she denied it (way too much). He wanted to talk about it. "Wait till we get to the car" I muttered.
OK, I said later, I was wrong. I should not have climbed up the associates-only ladder. I should have wandered around that store, for hours if need be, till I found someone authorized to climb the ladder. But that associate was wrong too, and she knew it. She was mad at me because she knew she was wrong, standing around chit-chatting when she was supposed to be stocking shelves and fetching shoes for customers. And she was probably worried she'd get in trouble.
Yeah, yeah, OK, OK, Mom. (Translation: Quit the lecture.) "What does off the clock mean?"
"I really wasn't embarrassed Mom. Really. Really I wasn't."