The K-Mart Shopping Rules

September 29, 2008

KMart2 A few weeks ago I blew off a little steam about Wal-Mart and the “quality” of shoppers we encounter there. Recently, I had to pick up something and I decided to dash into a nearby K-Mart instead because it was close to where I worked. Holy Mother of Pearl! I haven’t been in one of those in years, but I learned quickly shopping there is a whole lot different! The Wal-Mart rules do not apply when you enter K-Mart. Instead, try these…

1. Be careful where you push your cart. – No lie, there are potholes big enough to lose your kid in! The stores have been rearranged so often that the cheap linoleum flooring has permanent dents, scratches, and marks of racks gone by. As a result, you could just find yourself strolling merrily along with your cart only to find it suddenly disappear in front of you.

2. There are dark corners of the store…avoid them.jenkins10Entering your local K-Mart is somewhat akin to entering a war zone.  The pile of clothes you see crumpled on the floor might be discarded sale items, a homeless person, or a dead body. Stay to the center of the store, keep in the clearly marked and pitted main aisles (such as they are), and don’t touch anything you can’t clearly identify. There are areas of the store that are dark. The lights have not worked in those fixtures in years, and the salespeople have learned to avoid them. You should do the same.

3. You have no friends in K-Mart. –  Think of your first few angryman_300minutes there as your first few minutes in prison. You are the new meat, and if you look at someone the wrong way there is a good possibility they’ll shank you in the dog food aisle. Keep your eyes ahead of you, avoiding direct eye contact with anyone else–including salespeople. Remember, these are the folks who were considered too scary to work at Wal-Mart. There is a reason they’re hiding in Sporting Goods.

4. It will be a long time before you ever see your family again. – There may be 8 registers, but only one of them willkmart-honolulu have a cashier…and it is her first day. You may have run in there for a box of laundry detergent, but you’d better grab a bag of chips on your way to the checkout. By the time you reach the register, you’ll need something to keep your strength up. K-Mart is one of the few stores in which you can time the checkouts with a calendar rather than a stopwatch. Make sure you really, truly need it before you go in there to buy anything…and then take a picture of your family along so you can remember them as the days go by while you are in line.

5. You probably won’t find what you’re looking for, so be flexible. – Maybe you walked in wanting a can of Pringles chips. kate_bingaman_20060815_1_empty_kmart_on_27th_ Well, most of the shelves at K-Mart are what they like to call “in flux”, which means they’re empty. Instead of Pringles, you might find a lovely bag of Lays chips that are only two months out of date. You could be looking for a box of Froot Loops, but you might have to settle for some Purina Dog Chow. Understand that when you walk through the doors to K-Mart you are entering a wonderland of mystery and excitement. Be flexible so you can enjoy the whole experience as it is meant to be.

That’s my experience after stopping at the local Big K. I think it’s time I paid Target a visit…

Give Me Back My Sugar!

September 22, 2008

image When I was a kid, breakfast was a special time. I ran downstairs in my Spider-Man jammies and found this huge, heaping bowl of pure colored sugar in bright lumps of yellow, green, and blue. It was a glorious time! It was like having dessert for breakfast every day!

Now I’ve grown up and have kids of my own, and they have no idea what it’s like to enjoy a sugar rush first thing in the morning. When I was a kid the words Sugar and Sweet were huge on the box! Now all you can see are the words “Nutrition” and image“Healthy”. If you want to see sugar anywhere, you’ll have to look in the ingredients. And why did this happen? Because a bunch of lazy folks were too stupid to say “You know, I don’t have to eat an entire box of this stuff for breakfast every day…one bowl might be enough!”. Instead, they sue the cereal guys because there’s some grand conspiracy to actually make their product taste good and in the process turn everyone in America into fat people! 

Well, since you want to ruin it for the rest of us, here’s my simple solution: narrow the aisles for the sugary stuff! Healthy foods, sundries, sodas are all regular aisles…but there is this special part of the store–we’ll call it “Candy Land”–that only skinny people can fit into. The aisles are so close together you can’t even get a cart in there. Fat people can only look at it from a distance and dream.

It works as a deterrent too! Once you get too big to fit in the skinny aisle, you know it’s time to cut back for a while! And any skinny person caught buying stuff for a fat guy waiting in the healthy section loses their rights to Candy Land for a year. That’ll work.

image So bring back my sugar rushes! I miss the days of getting up from the breakfast table and hearing air! I miss fighting to control my shaking hands long enough to tie my tennis shoes! I miss the uncontrollable fits of giggling first thing in the morning!

And who is the creep that decided to stop putting cheap plasticimage toys in  the box!?! Oh, it’s a choking hazard for kids? Puh-leeze! I went through hundreds of boxes as a kid and had the common sense every time to say “Hey, that doesn’t look like the rest of my Frosted Flakes! I’ll bet it’s a toy.” And if your kid’s too small to know the difference, then pour their cereal for them and put the box away! I don’t want to mail in 7 proofs of purchase and five bucks shipping & handling for a Froot Loops race car! I want it waiting at the bottom of my box for me, shivering as I tear into that sugary cereal on my way to it!

image Come on, Toucan Sam, make breakfast fun again!

The Wal-Mart Shopping War Rules

September 16, 2008

walmart I’m going to give you a little heads-up about shopping at Wal-Mart: we men don’t usually find that fun in the least. If we’re there, our only thought is getting through and getting out of there as soon as possible. As such, I’m going to help you folks out a little bit by giving you the rules for shopping at Wal-Mart:

1. Shopping at Wal-Mart is not a social event. If you happen to run into someone you know, the proper greeting is a simple nod of the head to each other as you pass by and keep the flow moving. If you have some pressing information they simply must know about, say, talking shoppers “Hey, call me…we’ve gotta talk!”. If they’re your friend, they’ll call. If they don’t call, they probably don’t want to hear you stupid story about Aunt Sadie’s back surgery, or what little Bobby did in school last week. Just to let you know: we don’t want to hear it either. If you choose to ignore this advice, block the aisle and carry on your conversation as the carts pile up behind you, don’t get upset when someone lobs a loaf of bread at the back of your head. Not that I would ever do that, but I’m just saying…

2. Shopping at Wal-Mart is not a visit to a museum or art gallery. For heaven’s sake, move along! I can’t stand it when someone gets in the middle of the aisle and stares around at everything like they’ve pushing_a_shopping_cart just walked into the Louvre. Nothing has changed since last week when you were in here, so keep going! If the pretty colored boxes and shiny things distract you enough to slow down, then send someone else out there to do your shopping for you. The rest of us are not here to just pass the time. We want to go home, so get out of our way or we will have to run over you!

3. The self-checkout lines are for other people–don’t use them. Ever have this happen: you run in to buy milk and bread, but the “20 item or less” lane is backed up so you think you’ll just jump into the self-self checkout checkout line and be back to the car in no time…but the person in front of you in the line is acting like they’ve never seen a bar code before and is amazed every time the machine beeps as they pass something over it. Maybe it’s just because I live in the South, but when the person actually starts giggling when the machine beeps, I know it’s over. And watching the person keep hitting the “Skip Bagging” button just because they can’t figure it out is a treat too. Every third item makes the register shut down until the cashier comes and fixes it, all the while listening to the person complaining about how “the register is broken or something”. There should be an IQ test required for everyone who wants to use the self-checkout so they’d become useful again.

4. “10 Items or Less” is not a suggestion. Again, trying to do a quick shopping trip becomes a drawn-out nightmare when the person in front of you heaves their cart into the line with food pouring over the sides. Then they look at you like “What?” and start carefully pulling items from the grocery Jenga they’ve set up in their cart. If you can’t at a simple glance tell you have 10 items or less, then you probably have more than that. If you get into the “10 Items or Less” line with a cart full of food, it should be mandatory that you get 2 bags at the most for all your stuff. If it doesn’t fit in two bags, you can carry it out by hand.

5. Your kid is screaming…and we can hear it. I love it crying_childwhen I’m shopping and I notice this loud wail coming from three aisles down. It  sounds like one of those tornado sirens, but soon enough I find it’s some little brat stuck in the shopping cart and turning a wonderful shade of blue as the oxygen races from its lungs and past its brain without stopping. And of course, the mother with the child acts as if she doesn’t hear a thing. She thinks if she ignores the child, then that automatically silences it for the rest of the world. Here’s a tip: it doesn’t! If you don’t want to spank your child, that’s fine. Just bend down, put your mouth right next to his ear so he doesn’t miss a word, and describe in detail what you’re going to do to the child when you get home if they don’t shut up. Or pick a random scary stranger (you’re in Wal-Mart, I promise there’s one nearby) and tell the child if they don’t be quiet the man will haul them away in his minivan. Hey, it worked for my dad…and I grew up to be normal!

These are the first five simple rules for the Wal-Mart Shopping War. There will be more to follow as I continue to purchase groceries and find myself pushed to the edge of sanity and beyond, but this is where it starts.

Married Corvettes and Camrys

September 9, 2008

I had an interesting conversation with a young lady not long ago. She was preparing to get married and wanted to know (from a husband’s standpoint) what a wife could do to make the marriage sizzle. She wasn’t really a confident girl, and though she was attractive she didn’t see herself as anything extraordinary (though she is to any guy who sees her). My answer was simple: “Be a Camry.”

As my blog title states, we men aren’t hard to figure out. There may be tons of marriage and relationship books out there, but if you were looking for one written by an honest guy to a potential wife, the secret of a successful marriage is simple: keep the passion alive. It doesn’t matter if you don’t look like Angelina Jolie, as long as you act like her when the doors are closed.

chevrolet_corvette Given a choice, any man would choose a Camry they got to drive 2 or 3 times a week over a Corvette that they only got to drive once a month (and even then the road they can go on is plainly marked). Guys may look at your Corvette and drool, imagining high speeds and hairpin turns. What they may not know is that your Corvette is high maintenance and only leaves the garage once a month.

On the other hand, a guy with a Camry might not be the immediate camry-carsenvy of his friends, but he’s man enough not to care. He drives that sucker all over the place, several times a week (and even gets to go off-road every once in a while). That, my friends, is a happy, happy man. He lights up when his woman enters the room even if no one else does, simply because he knows the value of what he has.

Given a choice between a perfect “10” who will never be passionate, and a “6” who frequently will, 99% of the guys will choose the “6” without hesitation. Passion is what makes a woman even more beautiful than that instant “take your breath away” moment you have when you see each other for the first time. An attractive or cute woman instantly becomes America’s Next Top Model when she’s not afraid to rev her engine. Look beyond those instantly beautiful women out there and remember no matter how beautiful a woman is, there is some guy out there who is tired of putting up with her crap.

So to my young bride-to-be friend–and any other woman out there–don’t sit and compare yourself to other women who are movie stars or models. Shoot, the man you’re married to probably doesn’t look like one of them either! Just make the magic happen with what you have to work with and it’ll make you the object of your husband’s lust more than watching both Tomb Raider movies back-to-back in HD!

No, this blog isn’t going to harp on sex all the time, but I wanted to try and build up the ladies this time around. I know it isn’t easy having confidence in a world that constantly makes their definition of “perfect woman” younger and thinner every day. But don’t worry if you’re a Camry and the woman you work with is a Corvette. If you’re up for a road trip at a moment’s notice, I can promise you your man won’t be looking at any other vehicles that drive by. Ten or fifteen pounds don’t mean a hill of beans if you’re not afraid to show us you’re into the moment.moms_minivan

Just don’t be a minivan. They’re big, bulky, drink a lot of gasoline, and can’t be considered cool in any situation. It doesn’t matter how often you get to drive one of those, it just ain’t no fun.

Owning the Amusement Park

September 1, 2008

One of my sons asked me one time, “Dad, why doesn’t God want us to have sex before marriage?” It was a beautiful father-son moment, and I looked into his eyes and as sincerely as possible said, “Son, it’s because God loves you and knows what’s best for you, and when He doesn’t let you have sex before marriage, it’s because He’s preparing you for life after marriage. You don’t get to have sex then either.”

As a man who’s married to a beautiful woman, I can honestly say my wife takes care of herself, looks hot all the time, and I often get complimented by men who “wish they could find a woman like that”. But everyday married life isn’t like some Cinemax film.

Great_American_Scream_Machine_hillTo all you single guys out there about to marry a beautiful woman, I’m going to give it to you straight: When you marry a babe, it’s like suddenly finding out that you own Six Flags. All the rides are yours! The Mindbender, the Scream Machine, the Great Gasp…you can ride everything you want to, as many times as you’d like! You’re the envy of all your friends who have to sit in the parking lot and wait for you to come out and tell them how great the rides really are–and you know the whole time they’ll never get the chance to ride in your park!

roller-coaster-closed Then one day you notice the Scream Machine is closed. You think maybe it’s just for a few days, and there are plenty of other great rides to choose from, so you don’t really mention it. But then you notice other rides start shutting down too. And no matter what you try–candlelight dinners, flowers, jewelry, compliments–the rides never open again.

Finally, you’re left with the carousel and maybe the Monster Plantation every few months. Your friends are still waiting in the parking lot for the great stories, but now you’re having to make them up or repeat them from memory of when you used to scream during the rides because they were so good. Now you just sort of wander through the park and wonder what’s on television.

The Monster Plantation is ok, but it’s not something you’d ever choose to ride. It’s slow, nothing much happens, and you feel bad because you know you’re supposed to be enjoying the ride but your mind keeps wandering during the whole thing.

carousel And don’t get me wrong, the carousel is nice, and it beats not having any rides open…but everything seems boring when you’ve been on the Scream Machine. When you ride the carousel you know how it’s going to start, you know how long it’s going to last (you can even count the number of times your horsey will go up and down before the ride ends), and when the ride’s over you feel like you’ve just wasted five minutes of your life.  The entire time you’re riding the carousel, you can see the Scream Machine in the distance. But if you try to get on it again, security comes and lets the dogs loose on you to chase you out of the park for the night.

So my advice to newlywed guys is simple: ride the thrill rides as often as you can at the start. Oh sure, you may think the carousel would be fun to mix things up one lazy Saturday afternoon, but don’t do it! You’ll be stuck riding that sucker for the rest of your life. The Scream Machine is only around for a few precious months. As soon as you get off the ride, get in line again and go for it. You’ll thank me later.

Remember those moments on the Mindbender too…they’ll be the stories you’re recycling for the guys in the parking lot two years from now.

And if your friends start telling you how great life is in their park, just keep watching them. That smile will slowly start to disappear from their faces and a look of confusion will set in as the rides start to close on them too. At that point, be thankful for ESPN.