Why I Hate Shopping at Walmart: The Great Chalk SearchPosted: May 22, 2013
Sidewalk chalk is something that falls into my “Amazingly Cheap, Not Messy, and Fun” toy category. What’s not to like about it (well, besides when the dog eats a piece and proceeds to drool pink slobber over everyone)? It’s fun for toddlers and children, and you can make games like hopscotch. Consequently, chalk is something I feel should be in every family’s toy collection. Since my current nanny family’s sidewalk chalk had gone missing over the weekend, I decided to buy some more at Walmart. Little did I know that I was at the beginning The Great Chalk Search.
When I arrived at Walmart on my work day, I easily found the first few toiletries on the list. I felt optimistic that I could get the shopping done quickly as I headed to the toy aisles to look for chalk. However, I could only find one type of chalk in the seasonal toy aisle–a stupid package that had the chalk stick in 3 or 4 different colors so that you can draw in rainbow colors. All I wanted was some plain, single colored chalk.
Puzzled, I wandered over to the outdoor toy section. There wasn’t any chalk among the bicycle helmets and baseball mitts. I then wandered over to the seasonal items section. Again, no chalk mingled in with the picnic supplies and pool toys. Starting to feel frustrated by my lack of success in finding simple sidewalk chalk, I (finally) found an employee to ask. She replied, “I’m pretty sure that it’s in the toy section. If not, it should be with the seasonal items. Or the garden supplies.”
“Are you sure?” I asked incredulously. After all, I had already checked the toy aisle and seasonal items. On the other hand, I did have a tendency to not find items nestled in the rows and rows of stuff.
“Yeah, I think so,” the employee said.
Gritting my teeth, I pushed the cart back to the toy aisle. I then proceeded to walk down all four sections of the toys. Not only was there still no chalk, I realized that the toy section’s organization made absolutely no sense! Toy groupings didn’t match, some toys were found in multiple locations, and giant, expensive toys easily overpowered basic, cheap toys. The perfectionist in me started feeling twitchy.
I gave up on the toy aisle and went to the gardening section. Once again, I walked down all the sections–still no chalk to be found. Now starting to clench my jaw with annoyance, I walked back to the seasonal items section to check every aisle. I could find pool noodles, lighter fluid, and giant bubble wands but not a single piece of chalk.
Really, I should have given up at this point. But I wanted to have chalk when I played outside with my nanny kids and I didn’t want to disappoint the toddler who so sweetly asked me last week, “Iaeij e sojiea calk?” (that’s in toddler-ese. The translation is, ” May I play with chalk?”). Plus, it was ridiculous that I couldn’t find something as basic as sidewalk chalk.
By this point, I was rapidly becoming less annoyed and more flustered. I had now wasted 15 minutes in Walmart–15 minutes that I was getting paid to work–looking for sidewalk chalk. I had already asked for help. I wanted that chalk! Trying to cling to my dignity and not throw an adult sized tantrum under the florescent lights, I headed to the last section I could think of that would have sidewalk chalk–the office supplies (not to be confused with the craft section. I had checked that aisle the week before for sidewalk chalk).
I found the children’s art supplies in the office section. I carefully scanned the various colored writing instruments. There, nestled among the colored pencils and markers, was a solitary pack of sidewalk chalk.
It wasn’t what I really wanted since it only had 5 pieces. However, I knew at that point, after spending nearly 20 minutes searching aisle after aisle for simple sidewalk chalk, that I should just grab it and get out. Of course, I still had the entire grocery section of my shopping list to complete.
And that’s how I wound up shopping at Walmart in a flustered, unfocused haze–which I’m sure was the layout designers plan to begin with.