When I was a teenager malls were a big deal. They were still a relatively new concept, and people would just go there and hang out. There were record stores, and book stores, and interesting restaurants. It was a pleasant way to kill a few hours, when you found yourself with some hours in need of killing. Nowadays, however, there’s nothing for me there. It’s just super-expensive clothes, cell phone covers, and Subway. Within minutes of crossing the threshold of a mall, drool starts dribbling from the corner of my mouth, brought on by the boredom.
The only thing I like about the mall now is the hurricane machine. You know, where people can pay a fee, step inside a glass booth, and experience hurricane-force winds? I’m always hoping somebody will freak out, and turn the whole machine over. But we’re getting off the subject…
At this point, the only store I consistently like to wander aimlessly through – like we used to do at the mall – is Sam’s Club. They have all sorts of cool electronics, TVs, books, and DVDs. Plus, their meat and produce is top-notch, and the same goes for their bakery items. I’ve even bought clothes there, and furniture. It’s a good store, with great prices, and quality merchandise.
Yeah, I know they’re associated with Wal-Mart, which is the devil’s peehole. But I don’t care… I love Sam’s Club. And I loved Costco, when we lived in California. They’re fantastic. Just their computer sections alone are worth a special trip.
However… there are a few things that bug me about Sam’s. Not enough to stop me from going, mind you, but little nagging annoyances. And I’ll give you a brief rundown of ten of them now. Please feel free to add your own, or comment on the ones I list.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Walkie-Talkies The employees now carry abrasive-ass squawk boxes on their belts, with the volume knobs turned as far to the right as they’ll go. And they insist on using them like telephones; they have long conversations that go blasting straight through my brainstem. It’s shrill and tinny, and absolutely relentless. I don’t like the PA system either, but the walkie-talkies are worse. Turn the goddamn things down! Sweet Maria. Birds probably fly into Sam’s Club airspace, get hit by those harsh sound waves, and go into an immediate death spiral. It’s too much. I beg of you: back off on the Cheap Trick volume. Holy hell.
Samples Assholes This isn’t really the store’s fault, but it’s certainly something about Sam’s Club that bugs me. And I’m talking about people who walk up to one of the samples stations, take whatever’s being offered, and eat it right there. They don’t move out of the way, to make room for the next person, they act like the samples lady requires a critique. So they pop it into their mouth, chew for what seems like a full minute, and make contemplative faces like they’re connoisseurs of fine wine. Get the fuck out of my way! It’s a cracker with cheese on it, you idiot. I hope a gallon jug of vegetable oil falls from a pallet on the third level racking, and takes you out.
DirecTV people This is a relatively new development, and not a positive one. In the TV aisles there are now representatives from DirecTV wandering around, trying to sell their services. They’re extremely pushy, and trained to deflect negative responses. I used to like to look at TVs at Sam’s, but avoid it most of the time now. I know I’ll either get all worked-up, have some sort of altercation, or both. It’s just not worth it. I don’t need more conflict in my life, especially with some soul-patch dipshit in a polo shirt. Sometimes they holler at me, like carnival barkers, when I’m passing by on the outer edges of the TV department. I used to be neutral on DirecTV as a company, but they’ve now dropped to one slot above AIDS on my approval meter.
Camera alarms Why are there cameras on display, if you’re not allowed to pick them up? Every time somebody touches one, it sets off a piercing alarm that can be heard in the Best Buy parking lot a half-mile down the street. And it takes roughly eight minutes before an employee saunters over, without a care in world, and puts an end to the pain. I know better than to even breathe on those cameras, but others are not as experienced as I am. And the chirping goes off about five times every time I visit the store. My molars are nothing but stumps because various strangers have felt the need to hold a Nikon Coolpix in their hands.
Self-Checkout Queen I know how to use a self-checkout, thank you very much. I appreciate your concern, but don’t need assistance. In fact, it’s a little insulting. Do I look like a person who can’t follow SEE SPOT RUN-level directions on a touch screen? Just go back behind your presidential podium over there, and leave me be. I’ll self-transact my pillowcase of salted peanuts in the shell, and my flat of éclairs, like a seasoned pro. Just give me some room, and I think you’ll be impressed. I am the Joe DiMaggio of barcode scanning, and the James Brown of bank card swiping. Just turn me loose!
Cart pushers This isn’t unique to Sam’s Club, but I see them there, every time. Back in my day we didn’t have fancy remote control cart pushers, with a flashing light and orange whip-flag. We just… you know, pushed the carts by hand. And after a while I became so good at it, I could shove a line of carts half a block long, and thread the needle on a run, straight through the front door of a grocery store. It agitates me when I see these pampered and powdered fancy-lads out there using a rolling tugboat to move shopping carts around. They’re already on wheels! Is that not good enough? Oh brother.
Free days One of the best things about Sam’s Club is the $40 per year membership fee. It’s a small amount of money, but enough to keep out the riff-raff. Occasionally, however, there’s a free day, and the place turns into a flea market. Big mamas in Flashdance shirts yelling at their buzzcut dumplin’ children: “Colt, don’t touch that! Colt!! Did you hear me?!” I hate when the riff-raff wall comes down. I’ve seen fistfights nearly break out over sausage samples, and people smuggling in their own filthy fountain drink cups from the previous free day. The annual fee is a line they won’t cross, and God save the annual fee!
Hand dryer in the men’s room I think it’s called a Dyson Airblade, or something like that. It’s very posh, but I don’t like it. You have to put your wet hands between two blowers, that are motion-activated. It’s a small space, and you need to have the steadiness of a jewel cutter not to touch the sides – and pick up some stranger’s shit spores. It’s almost like playing Operation, and who needs that kind of stress? I’m already resentful that society makes me scrub down, like I’m about to perform a heart transplant, simply because I took my wiener “over the fence” and aimed it for 25 seconds. Now this? What’s next, mandatory post-piss juggling? Why can’t they just leave me alone?!
So, there you go. If you have anything to add, please do so in the comments. And I hope you guys have yourselves a great weekend.
I’ll see you again on Monday.