I had an epiphany Saturday. I don't shop, period. That's one of the biggest benefits of being married 20 years. I occasionally go out and BUY something, but never shop. On Saturday, though, I was feeling a bit disconnected from the lovely Mrs. Sal--we had been "together" for several days, but moving around in our own little bubbles. So, in the interest of togetherness, I decided to accompany her on a trek to get Easter candy for kids who are far too big to get visits from the Easter bunny.
Well, we wound up in Big Lots. Big Lots is amazing. But not in a good way. It makes Wal-Mart look like an elite institution. Sure enough, they had candy, and they had it cheap--mission accomplished. But we had to get through the checkout line. Hooray! Another adventure!
Let's just say that the young lady checking out satisfied Big Lots customers was quite likely not the valedictorian of her class. I stood and watched, totally amazed, as she had apparent difficulty with opening plastic shopping bags. The line piled up, the helpless, hapless, clueless clerk fumbled on, and we eventually made it out safely.
But here's the amazing thing--I wasn't upset. Normally, my tolerance level for incompetence is lower than Carlsbad Caverns. But here, in Big Lots, I simply recognized that this is as good as it gets. If I had wanted excellent customer service, efficiently-moving checkout lines, or basic levels of hygiene, there is a Publix right across the parking lot. But we chose Big Lots, so there were no illusions. And then it hit me--this is the model for a much, much happier life.
All too often, I walk around upset at ignorance, incompetence, and sloth. It infuriates me that the kid at the drive-thru at my local McDonald's cannot seem to push the button that looks like a stinking cheeseburger correctly. I am amazed that a US Congressman seems to think that the island of Guam may tip over, or that 435 of them cannot do checkbook algebra. But I need to remind myself--it's a Big Lots world. Half of all people are below median intelligence (sorry, that's just math). What I need to do is lower my expectations and be pleasantly surprised when I get even Wal-Mart levels of service.