My kids and I were at Target late on the evening of December 23 following dinner at Ruby Tuesdays. Officially, we were on a mission to procure a new pair of black fashion boots for my daughter, who had outgrown her previous pair. Unofficially, we were there to watch the 10th-hour Christmas shoppers do their semi-frantic thing.
Note: I refer to this group as 10th hour Christmas shoppers because it’s technically not 11th-hour Christmas shopping until the afternoon of December 24, the time at which you should position yourself at the local 24/7 truck stop for the absolute best in last-minute Christmas shopping people watching.
As someone who isn’t much into gift-giving, it’s especially entertaining for me to watch people who are, speedily trolling store aisles, snatching garments off racks, yanking novelty items off shelves and hastily hurling everything into a heaped cart of crap they pay for with a credit card. All to make sure they have Christmas “covered,” sure as the snow covers the ground each December.
I feel sorry for those who work in retail this time of year, as many customers seem short on reason during Christmas season. I worked at Robinson’s Department store in Battle Creek my first Christmas after graduation from high school and quickly had more than my fill of that variety of customer. I don’t suffer fools lightly and an abundance of them showed up like clockwork at our store that year to make 10th- and 11th-hour purchases. Their crappy, procrastinating attitudes suggested I had personally thrown Christmas, unannounced, onto their already heaped plate of December activities. And they were having digestion problems.
Someone must have had digestion problems December 23 at Target, because as we approached the checkout lane with our purchases, three Target employees and one security company official were attempting to clean up something gross on the floor.
“Please tell me that’s chocolate,” I said to the grimacing 20-something employee as I surveyed the suspicious-looking brownish patch of ick on the floor in our path.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m sure chocolate’s exactly what it is,” she said with an eye roll, struggling to put a replacement pad onto the small Swiffer mop with which she’d armed herself. But having grown up on a farm and having changed multiple diapers, I knew better.
“Well, it appears to me to be an act of turd terrorism,” I announced, laughing. The Target employees began laughing, too, despite the disgusting circumstances. The security guy was laughing so hard he moved the bag into which the clean-up employee was attempting to deposit the soiled Swiffer pad. The pad dropped back onto the floor, respreading a round of holiday cheer. A collective “aarghh” swept the gathering crowd of gawkers.
I paid for my purchases with a sideways gaze trained in the direction of the fecesatrical production. Having cleaned up the respread mess, the Target employees attempted to move a nearby shopping cart out of the way, only to discover its wheels had made contact with the original piece of “chocolate.” Moving the cart left an even longer nasty brown streak across the store. Triple gross.
At that point, I did the only thing I could under the circumstances, short of volunteering to help with the clean-up: I whipped out my phone and took a photo of the disgusted looking employees attempting to wage battle against the Evil Excrement Empire. As if working retail wasn’t crappy enough around Christmas. I contented myself with the thought that at least I wasn’t the one stepping in it, for a change.
As our family drove away from the experience, the question that remained in our minds was what kind of animal would have deposited something like that near the store checkout lane? Or anywhere else in the store, for that matter. Maybe it had been a four-legged animal. I rather liked the noble idea it had fallen from a service dog. But most likely, it had been unleashed from a two-legged Homosapien.
Pampered pooch or Pampered pre-schooler, there’s no avoiding crap life sometimes deposits from out of nowhere into our paths. We might as well re-frame it as “floor chocolate,” and at least smile as we mop.