Saturday, July 2, 2011

Adventures at Walmart

Last night, at Walmart, I got in the 20 items-or-less line. Princess stood next to me, clutching a package of Bonne Bell Lipsmackers to her chest. (My little girl has been asking about makeup--and this is the closest a five-year-old is getting to lipstick.) A package of contractor trash bags (for all the things I'm getting rid of) and a box of Klondike bars (for James' and my weekly at-home date night) rounded out the purchases.

The man ahead of us in line was quite friendly. Usually, I am too, but something about this guy made me wary. He looked pretty normal--40s, slight of build, white tee, slightly scruffy, not anything unusual. He leaned our direction and talked to Princess, and my alarm bells went off. He had a mumbling way of speaking, but I swore I heard something about a wink.

Princess had the same impulse as me, because she backed up and hid behind me. I resisted the urge to shove him, gave the man a half-smile, and he mumbled a few things to me, grinning. Uncharacteristically, I didn't say anything, but kept that half-smile plastered on.

The guy took a little time to pay, not quite understanding what the cashier wanted, and I tried to chastise myself for being so cold. It looks like he's mentally deficient, I thought. But the feeling of wariness was there still, and I couldn't help but listen. I put my arm around Princess and held her close to my side.

When the man had finished paying, he went to get his bag. I studied him discreetly for a moment, thinking that his movements looked familiar. He swayed a bit, and for a second I wondered, Parkinson's?, then realized that his motions reminded me of someone.

Johnny Depp, I thought. Yep, Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.


Captain Jack . . .oh.


Oh.

The guy lurched away, and I stepped up to the register into a funny-smelling cloud. The cashier and I gave each other a look.

"Drunk?" she said in a low tone.

"You think?" I laughed as I waved my hand around a bit trying to diffuse the scent.

She stiffened, then I felt someone behind me and I knew it was the drunk guy. He moved to my side and leaned (or swayed) into my arm a moment, mumbled something, then veered off again.

"How are you today?" the cashier asked brightly.

I swiped my card. "Oh, I'll be fine when we're in the car safely!"

We all laughed, then I took my bag, my daughter's hand, and on high alert, went out of the store.

I shook my head. I need some kind of drunkdar. Years ago as a dental assistant I helped with a patient who was, as the dentist put it, "drunk as a skunk." I had no idea, though he reeked. I was used to patients smelling funny at times and acting weird.

But now, as I headed to the van, Princess tightly in tow, being highly aware of my surroundings and going over self-defense techniques in my mind,  I had to admit that I have a blind spot where sloshed individuals are concerned.

Will someone out there please invent some inebriation-recognition glasses?

Edited to add: Once my wits came back and we went to leave, I realized I should report the guy to someone. I hurried to the door, looking for him and planning to tell the greeter. I didn't have any idea where he'd gone, and somehow the drunk had vanished into thin air. Otherwise I would have done my civic duty and reported him.

6 comments:

Phogles said...

You can tell it's a holiday weekend when the drunks go shopping at Wal-Mart, right? I would have had the store cashier assign someone to follow him to his car, and then as soon as he pulled out of the parking lot, report his license plate number to the police. Drunk drivers are scarier than smelly people in the check-out.

Rebecca said...

I'd actually thought of that and was going to tell the greeter, but somehow, the drunk magically disappeared. :(

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

Scary!

Cantwell Chaos said...

That's not a fun experience! I'm always thankful for the warning bells that go off around questionable characters and then extremely grateful for the peace that comes when I am safely away from those characters.

Cathy Witbeck said...

My son is working in a McDonalds in Canada and he says that it's a drunk magnet. They get a lot in there. But they come and go quickly because they get reported rather fast. Sad, eh.

Cathy Witbeck said...

My son is woking in a McDonalds in Canada. He says it is like a drunk magnet. But they don't come in for long because they get reported so fast. Sad,eh.