Monday, April 5, 2010

It's a Big Lots World

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.


Anonymous said...

Can you believe the clerks at Dollar General are way smarter than at Big Lots? I kid you not!

bekster said...

Today I spilled a cupful of water on my pants, right before I had to go out in public. But, you know what? I wasn't upset. Although I flatter myself that I am probably more intelligent than the typiical Big Lots clerc (no offense to them) and so I should know enough not to do such things to myself, I didn't berate myself for being so clumsy. After all, what would have been the point? Getting mad wouldn't have caused my pants to dry any sooner. I accepted the fact that I was going to have to face the world with wet pants, and I could either be mad with wet pants or happy with wet pants. I chose the latter. Really, we should usually choose the latter (not that I always do). There are few things on the level of shopping annoyances that really warrant getting upset about.

bekster said...

Also, I have a very good friend/family member who used to work at a grocery store, so you should be caeful how you talk about these "lesser citizens" of retail. :)