The other day I was accosted at Walmart.
The directors of The Music Man wanted confetti to be launched from the catwalk during the curtain call. The two high schoolers in charge of props had acquired both confetti and confetti cannons. The only thing they were missing were the CO2 cartridges. After a bit of quick, poor research, I was sent to Walmart to buy the cartridges.
They didn’t fit.
The CO2 cartridges I purchased from Walmart were too small to fit in the confetti cannons. I had to take them back.
I returned to Walmart the next afternoon. I had ten minutes before I had to leave for work; but I figured I could be in and out in no time. I was wrong.
I placed the cartridges on the customer service desk and presented my receipt, trying to be as pleasant and positive as I could. The woman behind the counter picked up the box and informed me that I could not return them.
Employee 1: “You can’t return these. These are BBs.”
Me: “No, no, no. These aren’t BBs, they’re CO2 cartridges.”
Employee 1: “No, these are ammo. We can’t take them back. It’s Walmart policy.”
After a few more minutes of this, the employee finally sent me to speak to the person in charge of all of the cash registers. You know, the person who stands at their own small register in the front of the store, watching over all of the self-checkouts like a hawk. I approached the woman, doing my best to hide my frustration. I had two minutes before I had to leave.
Me: “Hi, I was just trying to return these CO2 cartridges.”
Employee 2: “You can’t return those. Those are ammo.”
Me: “These aren’t ammo. They’re CO2 cartridges. You can see they haven’t been used.”
Employee 2: “No we can’t.”
Me: “But, why can’t you?”
Employee 2: “It’s Walmart policy. We can’t take back ammo.”
This is where the trouble started.
A nearby woman, with an incredible amount of attitude, had overheard our conversation. She whipped around.
The first thing I noticed was her cart. It was full of chocolate roses. I don’t mean she had three or four roses, I mean full. There were at least sixty roses in her cart, if not more.
The second thing I noticed was her sass.
She immediately threw herself right into the middle of my conversation.
Sassy Woman: “What do you mean he can’t return those?”
Employee 2: “He can’t return them. It’s store policy.”
Sassy Woman: “But you all told him that those would work with his product. If y’all told him that and then they didn’t work you’re at fault, aren’t ya?”
I had never met this woman before. I hadn’t told her anything about my situation. How she came to the conclusion that Walmart had lied to me I have no idea.
Employee 2: “No, that’s not our… what?”
Sassy Woman: “If you sold him the wrong product, you need to take it back.”
Employee 2: “We can’t.”
Sassy Woman: “Oh, you can’t? I once bought a 2008 Camaro and returned it two years later for all of my money back. I can return anything.”
I was so confused. Who was this woman? Apparently she returned a Camaro. She was very proud of herself.
Sassy Woman: “I want to speak to your manager.”
At this point, the second employee took us back to the customer service desk. The Queen-of-Returns had taken control of my problem and I was starting to freak out. At the customer service desk a third employee informed us that the manager was not in today. This was not the right thing to say.
Sassy Woman: “What do you mean she’s not here!?!”
The employee quickly apologized and offered to get the assistant manager. She ran off and we were left under the supervision of yet another employee.
The sassy woman continued to shout about Camaros, returns, ammunition, and justice. I continued to grow more and more uncomfortable.
The fourth employee watched us worriedly, glancing at his walkie-talkie from time to time, looking like he was contemplating calling for back up. I knew I was in trouble. Somehow this whole situation had gotten out of my control. And on top of it all, I was late for work. I panicked.
I started trying to get the employee’s attention. I tried to catch his eye in the hopes that he would understand that I was just as uncomfortable as he was, that I had never met this woman before in my life, and that I had no clue what a Camaro had to do with anything.
I must have looked like an idiot, but it worked.
I finally caught his eye and he nodded at me. He cleared his throat and pointed at me.
Employee 4: “All right. When the assistant manager comes, do you want to talk,”
He moved his finger to 2008 Camaro Woman.
Employee 4: “or do you want her to talk?”
My hand shot into the air.
Me: “I want to talk!”
I turned to the sassy woman and told I appreciated all the trouble she had gone through, but I thought I would be fine. She told me, "all right," and wandered out of the store with her load of chocolate roses, still mumbling about her Camaro.
The fourth employee took me to the back of the store to find the assistant manager.
The assistant manager was standing near one of those discount movie bins with a really tall Walmart employee. She took the CO2 cartridges from me.
Assistant Manager: “CO2 cartridges. Are these ammo?”
Very Tall Employee: “Nope.”
Assistant Manager: “Take ‘em back.”
That was it. All of that trouble at the front of the store and the assistant manager cleared up the whole situation in six seconds. Why didn’t we go to her first?
The fourth employee, who had guarded me earlier, escorted me back to the front of the store. On the way he started talking to me.
Employee 4: “We didn’t want any trouble. We didn’t want to call the cops, but we would have called the cops. You need to be careful when dealing with people. You could have been in a lot of trouble.”
I wanted to explain that I didn’t want any trouble either, that I was sorry, and that I had never seen that super sassy woman before, but I didn’t know how.
They refunded my money for the CO2 cartridges and sent me on my way.
I was half an hour late for work.
I can never go to that Walmart again.