If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I have a love/hate relationship with WalMart. I love their low prices (especially now that food prices are obscene). I hate just about everything else from the crazed WalMart hide and seek players (nothing like having a 60 year old scruffy man jump out from behind an aisle to engender fear) to the cashier computers that quit working after all of your purchases have been rung up and the machine has to be rebooted and you have to start from scratch.
Normally, Cal makes the WalMart trek with me, and we call it our WalMart date. But Cal was out-of-town this Saturday and I had to do it by myself. I steeled myself for the experience. I hit the gardening section first looking for jalapenos and basil plants. (I tried growing basil from seed, but the stupid squirrels dug through my pots, ate the seeds, and tossed the expensive dirt all over the place.) At any rate, I found jalapenos. And discovered that WalMart is not always cheaper. They wanted $5 for a single jalapeno plant that they’d forgotten to water—no thank you. The basil was the same.
My next stop was the photo center. I had about five photos that I needed to print up for the church bulletin board. We frequently have a handful of photos that need to be developed so Cal says, “You go find groceries, and I’ll do this.” For which I am grateful (you’ll see why in a minutes). But he was gone.
I eyed the computerized photo kiosk warily. (I have a very sordid history with photo kiosks—they don’t like me.) The printer was HP manufactured. I like HP. They made my laptop and it always works properly so I trust HP. I approached the kiosk and insert my media. It recognized my media. Excellent. I pushed a button. Nothing happened. I gently pushed the button, allowing maximum contact between my finger and the touchplate. Nothing happened. I jabbed the button. The screen ignored me. I jabbed it over and over. Nothing. I wanted to curse the machine and all of its ilk. But this is not the first time this has happened. For reasons I can’t fathom, touchscreens don’t work for me. They never have. (Cal and the kids find this uproariously funny. I don’t. Especially when I crash the whole computer system—it’s happened more than once.) This is why Cal or one of the kids always runs the kiosks. But I was by myself. I tried it again. Nothing. Then I spied a special pen on the side of the kiosk. I grabbed it and touched the screen. Voila. The system lived. I got everything inputed and the machine printed my receipt. I took it to the photo cashier and paid for my photos. So far, so good.
I went back to the kiosk to scan my receipt and get my photos. I scanned. The machine told me to see a sales associate. I scanned again. (Clearly the first scan was an error.) Same message. I tried it multiple times. Same message. I snagged a sales associate, who scowled at me. I explained the situation. She scowled more. Then she asked if I’d paid for the photos. I said, “Of course,” and showed her my receipt. She scowled more deeply. “You shouldn’t have paid for them first.” I thought about telling her that’s what the machine told me to do, but I figured she’d only scowl more.
She found the salesperson/tech guru for the photo department. He looked up my photos, which didn’t exist. We reinput my photos. Which still wouldn’t exist. In fact, after me no one’s photos existed. The Hispanic man behind me shrugged and rolled his eyes. The tech guru told us that his wasn’t his fault. He ranted about the evils of HP. I pondered whether it was my fault. (Back in the day, I worked at Harcourt. And I crashed the company intranet. Apparently, the IT guys traced it back to my computer. They had to reboot the entire system from tape drives and an entire day’s productively was lost. The third or fourth time it happened, my boss sent me to the eleventh floor to hide while the tech guys came to my office again and had a hissy fit.) I decided the WalMart tech guru didn’t need to know my history. At this point, I was waiting for a break in the HP rant so I could ask for my money back. Then, my photos appeared. The tech guy shoved them into my hands. I said, “Thanks.” And I hurried again from the kiosk before something else happened. It wasn’t until later that I realized that the photos were missing the tops of the heads of people. (It wasn’t that way in the pictures that I took.) I think it’s a conspiracy. I think the Harcourt computers shared their stories about me to other computers. And they’re all eeking out revenge.