This visit was difficult for several reasons: 1. I don’t like to shop at Walmart. I do my shopping at local stores as much as possible because then I can write self-righteous sentences like, “I don’t shop at Walmart.” 2. Walmart’s corporate policy (according to the gun nut websites I checked) is unclear. A letter from Walmart Customer Service has been widely circulated on these paranoid-end times-I live in a hole in my backyard-gun nut sites claiming that Walmart will follow local laws but does not want Open Carry to take place in their stores. 3. A majority of the voting age members of my family would like me to stop my stupid Open Carry project before they have to identify my body at the local morgue. 4. It’s Walmart, no one will notice that you are wearing a bright orange shirt that says, “Open Carry Nerf” and carrying a large Nerf gun.
Why did I then decide to go to Walmart? Well, at our local Walmart their corporate policy is not being followed. (In other words, people are open carrying in the store and nobody is stopping them.) It could be that the people who are Open Carrying are doing so discretely enough not to be noticed, or it could be that no one has complained. This is where a normal adult would simply talk to a manager and say, “I have seen people openly carrying guns like they are Wyatt Earp in you store. Isn’t that against your policy?”
Instead of acting like an adult, I got out my trusty Nerf gun, put on my bright orange shirt, and went to Walmart to buy some toothpaste.
One of the most annoying things about Walmart is the layout of their stores. I am certain that Walmart has purposefully studied and placed the automotive section as far away from men’s socks in the hopes that you will pick up ten things while walking between getting an oil filter and $3 package of 50 tube socks. The stores are designed more like a maze than a logical, organized collection of goods for sale. Everything is purposefully placed to get you to impulsively buy something you don’t really need, so I knew that my walk to the toothpaste aisle would be lined with temptation. The good news was that nobody got in may way, the bad new is that I passed up the opportunity to own a BluRay collection the three Matrix movies for $5.
After a quick stop at the RedBox machine to pick up a couple movies for my assistant, I was off to find the toothpaste.
The toothpaste was a long walk from the entrance, but I managed without jumping into one of those electric scooters that every third person rides into Walmart. Why are there so many scooters in Walmart? Is it that 80% of the parking is for handicapped people? Is it because the parking lots are designed to make you walk so far that the average Walmart shopper is exhausted by the time they reach the entrance? Or, does Walmart hire people to drive the scooters around to block aisles and force people to pick up the three Matrix movies on VHS for $2? It didn’t matter to me because nobody got in my way. I had one lady do a double take, but other than that it seemed that walking through Walmart carrying a large Nerf gun was an expected behavior.
I found the toothpaste. Remember when toothpaste decisions were Colgate or Crest? These days it’s like ordering a drink at Starbucks. Whitening? Sensitive? Gum building? Multi-surface? High gloss? Mint? Pacific Northwest flavor? Fine Grain? There was an entire aisle of nothing but toothpaste. This is when a man with a gun could be forced to make a rash decision and do something he would later regret, but I found the toothpaste with the most stuff on the label and decided live la vida loca and just get it.
I could have gone through the self-check out, but since I am a jerk and desperately seeking attention, I went to the longest line I could find. The lady who was in front of me turned around to see who I was and I got the response I was hoping for: she saw me, saw my shirt, saw my Nerf gun, and then turned her back on me trying to make me disappear. It reminded me of those nights when I was a kid when I would wake up from a nightmare certain that a space alien was in my room ready to pounce on me if I moved. She finished her purchase and scooted away from me as quickly as she could leaving me with a checker who refused to look at me.
I don’t blame the checker for not looking at me. When I see crazy people I don’t look at them either. It is uncomfortable to see someone carrying a Nerf gun in a store because they have absolutely lost touch with reality. It is an action full of sound and fury signifying nothing. The only thing crazier would be carrying a real gun in a store full of people who you don’t know.