Shopping For A Migraine

It amazes me that more people do not kill themselves at Walmart.

Once upon a time when I lived alone, I used to go to Walmart as Friday night entertainment. I’d get off work, stop somewhere for fast food, and wander the aisles of the supercenter. This era of my life convinced me that a) I have serious emotional problems and b) Walmart sells EVERYTHING! Also, it convinced me that I am programmed to buy almost everything. Walking into Walmart for colorful office supplies usually entailed walking out with a huge cartload of stuff and at least $100 less than I had when I entered.

As my life became more interesting, productive, and busy… and less pathetic, by the way… I stopped looking at Walmart as an entertainment destination. It was like finally leaving an abusive relationship. I stopped going to Walmart except when I visited my mother.

My mother always adored Walmart. When it came to shopping, her catchphrase was, “for $3 or $1.99 or $5 (or whatever remarkably low price something was), why be without?” Walmart was the perfect territory for such a philosophy. I ended up with some truly ugly clothes from Walmart because they were on clearance and… well, you never know. I still remember a powder blue polyester skirt with buttons down the front that I bought, at my mother’s prompting, because it was “only $3, so why be without?” I never wore the blasted thing. It took me years to finally abandon it to the mercies of the Goodwill bag.

As my mother aged and became frailer,  Amazon became a lifeline for her. She could get everything she needed delivered to her doorstep. Still, whenever I came to visit her, she always enjoyed a good outing to Walmart. I did not enjoy Walmart, but I did enjoy my mother. Max was a good sport whenever he was with me. He trailed behind us with the shopping cart while I pushed my mom in the wheelchair.

Once we moved to Florida, the whole mother-Walmart thing was more complicated. For one thing, we live within fairly easy driving distance of several Walmarts, but we are only really close to one of them. Unfortunately, the one to which we live closest, is known as “the bad Walmart.” We heard horror stories about carjackings and robberies and all kinds of sinister associations with that Walmart practically from the day we moved in. I am not the speediest person on my best day. I could probably not outrun a villain under the most ideal circumstances. An escape plan that included me pushing a wheelchair loaded with my mother and our purchases was beyond my imagination. Therefore, the “bad Walmart” was out of the question. That meant we traveled about 40 minutes each way just commuting to a more desirable and less lethal  Walmart… to say nothing of the extended time we spent shopping. Momma always had a list, but she loved traveling up and down each aisle, just to see what they had.

The other thing was that I could not push a shopping cart AND a wheelchair at the same time. My original plan was simply to load up my mother’s lap with the items she wanted to purchase, but I quickly realized that was not going to work. I tried putting one of those plastic grocery baskets on her lap and one on each of my arms. My last trip to Walmart with my mother was in 2016. I think I still have indentations on my extremities from the grocery basket handles. Somewhere about halfway through one of our first visits, I snagged a few reusable grocery bags and slipped them over the handles of her wheelchair. I was a train wreck. Flopping bags, cramped arms, bruised knees, sweat seeping from every pore, and low blood sugar- that was what Walmart meant to me.

One would ask why I did not just take my mother’s list and go to Walmart on my own to get what she wanted. That would not have met my mom’s needs. She loved getting out and feeling part of the world. And I loved my mother. As her body became increasingly fragile, her world got smaller and smaller. There was very little I could do to help her. Her health was declining and was never going to get better. It broke my heart. I could not make her physical health better. I could do nothing to stop her descent into disability. I could, however, inject some pleasure into her life. Going to Walmart was one big source of pleasure for her.

My mother has been gone for almost seven years. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have gone to Walmart in that time. The other day, I made the mistake of going there. I had a list of weirdly diverse items I needed, and I reasoned that Walmart was the only place that might sell all of them. If I avoided Walmart, which every instinct in my soul advised me to do, I would have to go to several other stores. I asked myself, “how bad could it be?” Wrong question.

I left the house at around 9:30. I decided to be brave and go to the “bad Walmart” because it was closest. My plan was to go to Walmart, stop by Ace Hardware if I could not obtain something on my list at Walmart, run into the dry cleaner to pick up our clothes, come home and eat something, and then leave again for my hair appointment at about 12:50. I clearly ingested some sort of alternate reality producing drug.

Actually, I had minimal trouble while shopping at Walmart. I noticed that the aisles seemed tidier than I remembered, and I did not run into too many shopping cart traffic jams. I did search for quite some time for a new outdoor welcome mat. When I asked someone where I could find such a beast, the employee told me to look in the “Home” section. The “Home” section consisted of about ten aisles. I know I walked down each one of them at least once before finding the welcome mats. Still, I was ultimately able to find everything on my list so I would not have to stop at Ace Hardware.

Then, I got on the check-out line. There were three people ahead of me. They all had huge carts of goods. I noticed a self-check area when I entered the store. I briefly considered moving down to that area, but I also noticed that they had ropes like a queue at Disney World to manage the self-check-out crowds. I did not think that was a good sign and I am not that speedy at self-check-out, so I figured I’d let a professional do it. It might have been a mistake to believe that, just because Walmart is paying someone minimum wage, that person can do the job faster than I can.

I waited in line for 15 minutes without it moving once. Finally, the checker finished with the first person in line. The second person was even more of a challenge. She had some sort of coupon that required management approval to input. From what I could glean from the conversation that came down the line from the cash register, Walmart’s system will not accept a coupon that is over some certain dollar amount unless a manager inputs an override code. The cashier would have to call a manager before the transaction could continue. Except the cashier does not “call” a manager at Walmart; the cashier stands helplessly at her register, flailing her arms trying to get the attention of a manager. After another 20 minutes, a manager finally came over to approve the discount. The line heaved a collective sigh of relief… until we learned that there was a second step to the process that required managerial approval.

The arm-flailing started over again. I considered passing a hat to everyone in line to see if we could collect the coupon amount. The crowd was getting ugly, though, and I

 was not sure if it was wise to try to collect a ransom from them. I have heard Walmart sells guns. I do not know if that is still true, but I know they sell knives because I saw them in my scenic trip through the “Home” section. It did not seem worth the risk. Finally, even the shopper waiting to get her coupon realized we had all somehow fallen into the Retail Twilight Zone. She told the checker to just take the item off her bill and she would purchase it somewhere else. The checker tried to do that, but the Walmart register system laughed maniacally and refused to comply.

As I waited in the line, I could feel my blood sugar dropping. I checked the time and realized I was not going to get to either the dry cleaners or home before my hair appointment. I decided instead to stop at a drive-through fast food place en route to the salon and pick up the cleaning after my hair appointment. Fifteen minutes later with no movement on the line, I realized I was not going to have time even to do a drive-through lunch. I also realized that not eating was not an option unless I wanted Walmart to call the paramedics when I blacked out. My guess is that calling the paramedics would have required some sort of managerial intervention, too. God only knows how long that would have taken. Anyway, since I was still in the check-out line, I grabbed a candy bar. I had to take two steps back to reach the shelf. The person behind me said, jokingly, “now you’ll have to go all the way to the end of the line.” I just barely kept from snarling when I replied, “not on your life!”

After waiting in line for 45 minutes with no progress, I surrendered. I moved my cart out of line. My initial thought was to abandon it in mid-aisle and leave, but I hated the idea of wasting all the time I had already invested in this purchasing process. It actually crossed my mind to bolt out the door with the merchandise and make a run for it, but that was the low blood sugar talking. I tentatively maneuvered my way down to the self-check-out line. I was able to access a machine in less than five minutes. I had a lot of stuff and much of it was unwieldy. It was not pretty, but I got her done. I left the store gobbling my candy bar. I just made it to my hair appointment.

Yes, Walmart does sell everything for low, low prices… including migraines and panic attacks.

What has been your worse retail experience? Don’t you think a few extra grams of carbohydrate would have made it more bearable? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a Walmart-free day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Shopping Season

I’ve been shopping. Imagine that. And it isn’t just Christmas shopping, either.

In addition to the other pratfalls in my keystone cop tour of New England, I seem to have lost about 30% of the wardrobe I brought on the trip.  It went missing somewhere between Maine and Massachusetts.  I am sure the jeans, three blouses, two bras, and one sock are enjoying their extended vacation in one of the many lovely inns we frequented in our travels.

I think it was probably all that moving from one hotel to another practically every day.  Despite my best intentions and organization techniques, it doesn’t surprise me that some of my clothes did not find their way back into suitcases.  As I pointed out in my blog on October 17th (, I am not a great sleeper.  Max is an even worse sleeper.  We are both even more inept at it when we are on vacation.  Neither one of us slept much ‘during our New England trip.  Nearly every morning, we had to pry ourselves out of bed in the wee hours to get ourselves and our luggage ready to board the bus.  This meant functioning (or disfunctioning) on about four-and-a-quarter winks on a pretty regular basis.  In my sleep deprived and harried state, I am sure that some clothes that I intended to transfer from my overnight bag to a laundry bag in my suitcase just decided to stay in bed.

I am not going to dignify the disappearance of the single sock with a comment.   Heaven knows, I lose single socks regularly in my own clothes dryer at home.  The fact that I lost one in New England barely ripples my radar.

The other missing articles of clothing are a bit more significant.  The loss was a bit disconcerting, but the up side was that I had an entirely acceptable excuse to go shopping. Replacing the bras was not a huge problem.  It was pretty easy to walk into one store and simply buy the same size, style, and brand I lost.  The jeans were tougher.  The missing jeans were not new or particularly expensive, but they fit really, really well.  I am mourning that loss a little.  Sure, I could walk into any department store and buy more jeans, but finding a pair of jeans that actually fits my bizarrely shaped backside is rather like hunting the elusive unicorn.  I have learned that I cannot really hunt for a pair of jeans like that.  I must be patient and wait for the jeans to find me.

I have been out shopping several times, maintaining the fiction that I am only trying to replace the three blouses that got lost on vacation. However, I find myself running into the same problem again and again.   As I roam the department stores, my eyes keep lighting on true autumn clothes.  I keep pulling sweaters, jackets, and corduroys off the racks.  As I view myself, in the safety of an air-conditioned fitting room, draped in cool weather weight fabrics in fall foliage colors, I have a hard time not purchasing those garments.

It must be a conspiracy.  It is freakin’ Florida. There is no autumn.  Why do they even display such items?  Probably because I am not the only one who hauls out the cozy the instant the mercury drops below 90 degrees.  I have lived in Florida almost four years.  You’d think I’d learn my lesson. Florida may be in the same time zone as the Northeast, but it is certainly not in the same clothing zone. Yes, it may get cool enough to don a sweater for an hour or even a day, but the weather is just teasing.  By the next day, the mere thought of wool will be enough to send my sweat glands into overdrive.  I have numerous articles of clothing in my closet that I have worn only once or twice because the climate in Florida just won’t cooperate.  Just because I am no longer sweating while actually in the shower does not mean it is sweater weather.  By the time we have our eight days or so of winter and it is chilly enough to justify something heavier than a t-shirt, it is usually January or February.  By then, autumnal-colored clothing doesn’t seem quite right either. 

At least, before I went on vacation, I could tell myself that I could at least wear those seductively cuddly clothes in New England.  Now that some of those clothes apparently decided it was too hot to return to Florida, I truly have no excuse to buy a rust-colored corduroy skirt and three sweaters.  Yet, I did.

Heavy sigh.  Please, somebody stop me before I buy yet another article of clothing that it will never be cool enough to wear.  I clearly have a problem.

What do you feel compelled to buy that just isn’t practical for your lifestyle?  How do you resist these urges?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at  

Have a warm and cozy day!


Extra, extra… read all about it!!!  My book, Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement  is a suitable gift for all occasions.  Besides being entertaining and informative, it is rectangular and easy to wrap! Perhaps you would like to visit and order a copy or several.  If you use the promo code terri , you will get a 15% discount.  You can also order at or, but the promo code will not apply.  

Shopping Around

I am a recreational shopper.  I enjoy going to malls and trying on clothes.  I love going to home décor stores.  I get super psyched by specialty shops, farmers’ markets, and craft fairs, especially at Christmas time.  I practice shopping the way some people practice their golf swing.  To me, shopping is entertainment, a leisure pursuit.

When Max moved in with me after we dated for several years, I made him promise that we would keep “dating” and go someplace fun at least once a week.  Shopping counted.  It worked out pretty well because Max is a very tolerant shopper.  He actually enjoys trailing around behind me in a mall or craft fair. He is a good fan and cheers me on when I make purchases.   If he does tire of waiting for me to try on potential new outfits, he sits on a chair by the fitting room and surfs the internet on his phone.  All in all, he is a very satisfactory shopping companion.

The only thing is, he really doesn’t get my concept of “museum shopping.” He doesn’t always understand that I can like things I see while shopping, but don’t necessarily have any desire to own them.  For me, shopping isn’t really about the acquisition of things. I certainly do my share of buying and continue to do my part to keep the economy strong, but the real pleasure in shopping is just seeing new things in different surroundings.  I get exercise while I watch people, admire the merchandise, and appreciate the store’s environment and decoration. It is almost like observing a microcosm of pop culture.  Max always seems vaguely deflated if we end a shopping expedition without purchasing anything, as if he has somehow failed in his mission. For me, the absence of multiple shopping bags digging into my arms does not mar my appreciation of the excursion.

One of the reasons I think Max doesn’t appreciate the whole “museum shopping” thing is that he takes gift-giving very seriously.  Once he has allocated money into his budget for my Christmas and birthday presents, he is like a meerkat protecting the mob (yes, that is what a group of meerkats is called; I looked it up on Wikipedia).  Every time I admire something, he pops his head up and suggests that he buy it for me for the next gift-giving occasion on the docket. That money burns a hole in the present budget until he can purchase something. Then, once he has purchased something, he budgets money for the next gift-giving occasion and the process starts all over again.   Because of this propensity of his, I think I will be opening my Christmas present for 2020 this year.  It mystifies him that I can be so excited over whatever I am admiring, but still not want him to buy it for me.  I just always want to keep shopping.  You never know when there might be something better or somewhere better to buy a gift.

Speaking of a better place to buy a gift, I don’t really consider a trip a vacation unless the activity schedule includes shopping.  I usually don’t buy a lot of souvenir things, but I do like to buy “regular” stuff while on vacation.  If a buy an article of clothing or piece of jewelry or Christmas ornament or home décor item while I am on vacation, there is the added benefit that I will always remember that experience when I use the item back at home.

Then there is online shopping. My mother was’s best friend.  It was a rare day when she did not receive multiple boxes from the Big Box Store In The Sky. Max likes the purchasing without benefit of human contact that online shopping provides.  I’m not a huge fan.  Because of my poor visual reasoning skills, I have a hard time converting the pictures and descriptions on a website to what an item will actually be like in real life.  In regular stores, I can look and listen and smell and touch to my heart’s content.  Yes, my mother did teach me not to touch, but it didn’t take.  I’m careful, but I always touch.

I do appreciate the efficiency and cost effectiveness of online shopping when I know exactly the item I want.  I regularly order hard-to-find protein bars and the Costco brand of over-the-counter sleeping pills from Amazon.  Cyberspace buzzes between Amazon and my kindle on a regular basis.  However, I find that online purchasing misses exactly what I like best about shopping… the exploration (that visual reasoning thing makes searching for items online unsatisfactory for me), the exercise (I don’t really call rhythmic keystroking exercise, do you?), the sensory experience (you can’t touch the merchandise in online stores) …. and, for the most part, the excitement.

I’ve just written over 800 words about shopping.  They say everyone needs a hobby when he or she retires.  I think I’ve decided shopping qualifies.

Do you think shopping qualifies as a hobby?  What hobbies are you pursuing in retirement?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at  

Buy yourself something nice today!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

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