Wal-Mart is always a good place to go when I’m running short of material. Sunday was no exception. As part of our Mothers Day Celebration and Commemoration we (the Jock and I) cleaned out the garage. In Minnesota a spring garage cleaning is mandatory, if for nothing else to remove the pounds of gravel that accumulates in your garage thanks to our road departments snow and ice removal efforts. Up here, tons of the stuff are dropped on the streets all winter long, only to be dragged in to the garage as part of the compacted snow that accumulated in the wheel wells and under the fenders of cars. I’m also noticing that our cement garage floor is much more pitted than I remember from previous years. Thank the salt for that.
Essential in the Spring cleaning process is the putting to sleep of the winter tools and the resurrection of the summer ones. As I put the Stabil into the trusty snowblower I said a little prayer.. a prayer of thanks, for all its faithful service this winter, and a little add on that by the grace of G-d this had better be the last damn time I use the thing until late into December. I’m thinking I’m safe on that note. Of course you would thought that in April too, but we got 20 inches of snow in April…
The Lawnboy woke up with no problem.. Nate promptly pushed her around the yard for our first lawn harvest of the year. I don’t do much right with lawns.. but I do fertilize the first week in November, like clockwork… which means that the roots of the lawn grow a bit under the snow, and when the snow finally melts, I always have the greenest and lushest lawn on block. Lasts about three weeks then everyone else catches up and I start going to the lake and ignoring my lawn.. making me friendly with the neighbors.
The ride-on mower however… well she didn’t wake up as easily as the other tools. She’s spent the winter in the back of the garage making sure assorted toys and tools and an old computer don’t touch the ground. Digging her out I saw that her annual flat tire was, well flat as it always is this time of year. It’s a game, we fill it up about three times a summer and I pledge to fix it, and I never do. We have an agreement that way. This year however, the battery was also dead. The old girl wasn’t going anywhere.
Since any good garage cleaning starts with the annual “pulling of the crap out of the garage” exercise I needed to get a new battery. In the past I’ve charged the battery in these situations, however this year I found myself without a charger. Last year I had two, one at the lake and one at home. The one at home was loaned out to the Israeli cousin last fall for his car. Apparently growing up on the metric system prohibits one from understanding voltage and what not. He recharged his battery at 50 amps (the setting used to start a dead car, not charge) for three days. When he returned the charger, with a sheepish grin, the thing had scorch marks on the side and smelled like a mouse caught in a bug zapper.
So, new battery, means trip to the Wallies Emporium. I don’t spend a tremendous amount of time in Wal-Mart, despite its proximity to me. I’m not all that big about climbing over shit stacked in the aisles to get to other shit.. I also find myself wondering, every time I’m in there.. “Where in the hell do these people come from?” the place is loaded with folks you almost never see in Apple Valley. Actually I saw the same crowd one time at the local Mongolian Asian Vietnamese all you can eat place. They come out when they serve all you can eat crab. This is the crowd who consider white rice an exotic grain. This is also the crowd who wear shorts all year because their calves don’t fit in anything but sweatpants. You’d see these 400 pounders filling plate after plate with piles of crab leg scarfing away, shirts stained with crab juice and rice… could have been the grossest thing I’ve ever seen in a restaurant. They eat there, then pop over to Wal Mart for Tums and weight loss products. Needless to say the Asian place quickly stopped serving crab and I quickly stopped going in there.
Anyway, Red and I made the trek to the megalow mart. We parked in the back, by the automotive entrance. I figured that we’d found a way to avoid the whole front entrance thing at Wal Mart. No parking, hundreds of the largest people you’ve ever seen in your life fighting over the managers specials in the front of the store, the nauseating smell of the baking bread at the Subway franchise, the ugly kids on the wall of the portrait studio.. all badness. We snuck in the back door passing a Coup Deville with a punched in front grill. In the Automotive department I asked about the battery for our lawn tractor.
Goober- “You’re gonna haf’ta look up tha model in that book”
Sank- “Seriously? I just need a lawn tractor battery.”
Goober- “Them are all different, you gotta look’um up”
Sank- “When I bought this one I just found Lawn and Garden on the side and bought it”
Goober- “Is this’n on warrenty? You get some money back if it is.”
Sank- “I don’t think it is, but if you want to check you can be my guest.”
Goober looked it over and remarked “Can find no number on this’n”
The batter I had was from Fleet Farm. The store I probably should have gone to in the first place.
Goober- “I ain’t sure we can return this one.”
Sank- “call me crazy, but do you honor warranties form a competitor?”
Goober “A what?”
Sank- “Fleet Farm.. its from Fleet Farm”
Goober- We can’t take back no Fleet Farm battery”
Sank- “got it, but you can recycle it and then I can avoid the $10.00 surcharge”
Goober “Oh.. yeah you kin do that. Did you want another batter then?”
At this point I’m flabbergasted.
“Well, since this one is dead.. a replacement would be nice”
Goober “they’re over there. You gotta look up the model in the book, lemmie help ya”.
Full circle now.
Grabbing the book he asked “what model do you have?”
My turn to be stupid.
Sank- “Crap I forgot. Eric what model lawn mower do we have?”
Eric – “A black one”
Sank- “There ya go.. black”.
Goober “They’re all back ‘sept for John Deere. Them are green”.
I swear I’m in the twilight zone.
For some reason when I’m trying to remember useless stuff like the names of people or lawn equipment, I can usually remember the first letter of the name if nothing else.
Sank- “Starts with a ‘P’”
Eric – “Poulan”
Goober- “OK… lets see here… You don’t know the model number do you?”
Sank “I don’t”
Goober “Well, I ain’t sure we can help you ‘till you get the model number. You can use the phone if ya want ta axe someone”.
Sank- “Lemmie see the book”
Looking at the book I see that there are about 20 different model numbers for Pouhlan Tractors. Then I notice the following remarkable circumstance. The battery model number for every one is the same. U-71. On closer examination I see that for every brand, every tractor, the model number is U-71.
Sank- “Eric, come ‘ere. Am I crazy or are all these numbers the same?” he agreed. “hey Goober, where’s U-71 on the wall here.”
Goober- “Them are at the bottom there. Where it says lawn and garden equipment. Oh, and we’re out of ‘um. Oops Break time.. Anything else I can ‘hep ya with?”
Sank- “Why start now.”
Goober took of on a break, replaced by a guy who actually looked and talked like he’d successfully finished the second grade. “Oh, you want a tractor battery. They’re all the same size.. we’re out of the U-71, but you can get the premium version for a bit more. It’s U-71R.”
Sank- “seriously? What’s the difference?”
New Guy- “Well, the base one is $20.00, the premium is $25.00”
Sank- “That’s the only f#$ing difference? WHY ARE WE HAVING THIS STUPID DISCUSSION”.
New Guy “Well, that’s about a 20% difference Sir.”
Great, a math genius stuck at Wal Mart.
I relayed the discussion I had with his coworker. “Yeah, he likes to do things by the book. We’re supposed to verify the model numbers. And yup they’re all the same.”
We paid and walked out. They lock the back door so we had to be buzzed out. On the way we passed Ole Goober and angry looking dude looking over the Caddie in the bay.
Goober- “Sir did’ja know your hood don’t open?”
Dude- “Yeah, she’s stuck for some reason”.
Goober- “We gonna have a hard time changing the oil if we kaint open up the hood Sir”
Dude- “I guess so, I don’t know why the things stuck”.
Red, my son looked up at me “Hmm ya think the fact that you hit something and bent up the grill and hood has anything to do with it? “
Sank- “You’re too smart son”.
When we got home Mrs S asked what “Took you so damn long”.
Red responded before I could “Jeez Mom, it’s like Moron day at Wal-Mart”
I’m so proud. So was his Mother. “Ahh Wal Mart, Moron day is every day at Wal Mart dude.”