Joe Knows

Reputations can be overrated. Such a label is about as useful as flip-flops in January in Erie.

In addition, they are often unfair.

Such a place that carries a stigma has provided millions with untold hours of convenience and amusement all in one location: Walmart.

I know, I know. And the answer is yes, I have seen the documentaries, and yes, I have pretended to read “The Wal-Mart Effect.” But the big, bad box store is one of life’s guilty pleasures.

Any trip to the oft-vilified big-box store will be devoid of boredom or dull moments. Commotion will find you faster than the $5 DVD bin.

That’s what happened to me when I made a routine trip last week.

After enduring a painful and untimely cold two weeks ago, I took a prudent step by disposing  my toothbrush and picking up a new one.

Once I carefully selected a criss-cross bristled Crest, I slowly shuffled to the cash register.

Eventually, I arrived at a lane that was occupied by a mother who was buying groceries with her young children. With the conveyor belt running, the next week’s dinners and kids’ after-school snacks rolled by at a snail’s pace, before a bunch of bananas came to rest at the scanner. Among the slightly green of fruits was a half-eaten sore thumb.

What ensued is the exchange that can only happen at the wonderful world of walley.

Cashier: “Did you start eating this?” She seems confused and disgusted.

“Ah yeah, I guess I did,” the mother says, thinking nothing of it.

“Well how am I supposed to weigh it?” looking as if the woman really has an answer.

Mother: “What?”

Cashier: “I have to weigh it to price it,”

“Oh, I don’t know, I’m sorry about that,” the mother says as she begins to panic.

“Well I’ll let it go this time,” the cashier says as if she’s letting her off with a crime. “But please ma’am, don’t ever do it again.

“If someone saw you doing this, you could go directly to jail,” the cashier scolds, now channeling her inner johnny law.

By this point, I can barely contain myself. The thought of muscle-bound gang members talking about the next tattoo they plan to get on their skull being joined by this 110-pound mother almost has me on the floor.

“OK, I’m really sorry about that. It’ll never happen again,” the alarmed mother says as she swipes her card and does her best Usain Bolt.

After taking this in, I walked up to the counter with a pompous smirk, as I knew the cashier had nothing on me.

“Is this all you want,” she snaps, looking at me as if I had been laughing in church.

“Ahhem, yes,” I say barely above a whisper.

The mood parallels the feeling when a parent finishes yelling at your sibling and turns to you.

“Buck fifty.”

“OK,” I manage as I hand over the cash, and scoot out the sliding doors right behind the mother.

The toothbrush now securely in my grasp, I can rest easy knowing I got the best deal possible.

But with that kind of customer service, you wonder why this place has the reputation it does.

JOE CUNEO

[email protected]ts.gannon.edu