One hour later, I had a couple of hundred bucks of food packed into a cart. The bottom was all packed, it was overflowing, and every nook and cranny was filled. Most of it was frozen or refrigerated stuff so I was trying to hurry so it would all stay cold. Of course when I wanted to check out, Every other human being in the store had the same idea and the lines were four or five carts deep.
While we are talking about the checkout lines at Walmart, I just want to know, Why do they even bother building all of those lanes if they have no intention of ever using them all at the same time? I have been there on Christmas Eve with hundreds of shoppers milling around in snaking lines to check out and still I have never seen even fifty percent of the lanes lit up at the same time. I want to stand on my cart and yell, "ATTENTION WAL MART EMPLOYEES, THIS IS NOT A DRILL! THESE ARE ACTUAL PEOPLE TRYING TO GIVE THEIR MONEY TO WAL MART. ALL HANDS ON DECK! OPEN ALL THE LANES!" Of course I would never do this especially since I have found that one's friendliness level is directly proportionate with the level of cooperation one receives in attempting to use Walmart's ad-matching policy liberally.
I have an uncle who claims that his cars are magnetically attracted to uninsured Indians. I feel this way about my shopping cart and customers paying with multiple forms of government assistance and using expired coupons and writing checks and haggling over every item. I also tend to get the check out lady who is brand new and has been abandoned without any training or help. All of these things were true yesterday and by the time I got all my stuff rang up I was dying to get out the door. Thats also when Kara called saying that she had just arrived. I told her it was too late, I was already checking out. We'd have to do something else together soon. peace, out.
Then I swiped my card and it was DECLINED! This has never happened to me and I was mortified! The lady tried running my card again but it declined again. At this point Karma kicked in hard and the people behind me in line who had all of their frozen goods on the belt were shooting me daggers with their eyes. I had become exactly what I loathe. The problem is I had literally no other way to pay. I could call John but by the time he could get their with cash or a credit card, it would be at least twenty minutes. So the check out clerk was trying to do that trick where they suspend your transaction and let you step aside and check other people out while you figure out your dilemma but something was malfunctioning and they couldn't get it to do that. Then I remembered Kara! It was a miracle. I got her on the first ring "Emergency at aisle 5! RUN!" She appeared within seconds with her fully functioning debit card and saved the day. I have never felt such relief. Plus, I happened to loan Kara a couple of hundred dollars a few days previous and the total of my groceries was almost exactly what she owed me and was going to pay back that day anyway. Turns out Karma doesn't hate me as much as she likes to screw with me every now and then.
You would think that this is the end of the story about timing saving the day but it is actually only the beginning. I got out to the parking lot and was madly filling my minivan with bags when I saw a woman who was holding a tiny baby (maybe two months old) in one arm and had a huge armload of groceries in the other arm. She was then attempting to make a phone call on a phone that was not working. She was pacing around trying to get a signal and it was like a million degrees outside. I asked her if she needed help. She told me her phone wasn't working and asked if she could use my cell phone to make a call. Sure. Then she made the call but she was obviously calling really obscure acquaintances asking them to track down other people to try and track down a ride. I stopped her. "I can give you a ride." She was elated. I even had unused baby car seats installed and ready to go. I was glad to help. We got all loaded up and headed to her house and she told me her story. She just moved here from California and doesn't know a single person here. She has two little kids and she had to go to the grocery store that day because they were totally out of food and she had no choice but to walk carrying the baby. She hadn't realized how far it really was and she really didn't know how hot it would be. The further we drove to get her home the more concerned I became. She had walked for miles and was planning on walking back those miles carrying the groceries. No stroller, no help. She was so grateful for my help. She thanked me and thanked me. I told her that I'd like to exchange phone numbers and I could give her a ride to the store next time she needed it. She was elated. I told her that I could bring her to church and there would be hundreds of fabulous women with similar minivans who would like nothing more than to be friends with her and give her whatever help she needed. We also do playgroups and crafts and have an entire organization devoted to getting your family everything you need. She wants to come to church right away and I am sending the missionaries to her house. It felt so nice to help someone in need and it gave me a good opportunity to count my blessings and to be glad that I didn't have to walk anywhere or even pay for my own groceries. My life is so damn abundant. There really isn't any other way to put it. Abundant with friends, sweet minivans, beautiful healthy children, and a world wide church that is set up so that I could move anywhere on the planet and have an instant network of sincere friends and trusted social programs. Driving that woman home was nothing more than a five minute drive to me but to her it was a big deal.
John pointed out that she could have been a serial killer and I guess thats true but the baby put the odds in her favor of being non-homicidal. I was actually the more dangerous person involved as it did cross my mind to steal her baby. I have been baby hungry like nobody's business and I want a girl so bad. This was one of those perfect little hispanic babies with huge brown eyes and a hairdo that could be mistaken for a wig. Her mom let me take her out of the seat and she just cooed and smiled at me. She had velvety thigh rolls and smelled like baby powder. Yes, I was definitely the only one who considered committing a felony by driving away with that baby and never looking back. Instead I carried her into the house and gave her back to her very grateful mother.
I drove home thinking of how glad I was that a freak banking error had delayed me just to the right moment that I could help someone in need. It felt good to serve and it really was worth the mortification of debit card denial.